It’s here! Finally, Christmas Eve has arrived.
For many Christians, this is the most important night of the year and tomorrow the most important day, arguably trumped only by Easter Sunday in some folks’ minds.
Does it seem to you like it has been Christmas for months? It does to me since many folks around town have had Christmas lights adorning their residences since Thanksgiving. And because I am a member of two bands that prepared for holiday performances, I feel like I have been playing Christmas music since . . . well, practically since last Christmas!
The older I get, the more I find myself feeling melancholy this time of year. Not maudlin, but definitely introspective. I have lived through so many holiday seasons now that I am — somewhat painfully — aware of all of the changes that have taken place in my life over the years. Perhaps the most difficult transition has been a completely natural one that most people will eventually experience: Sequeing into a more matriarchal, mature role within the family. My parents are both gone, as are my husband’s and brother-in-law’s. So we half-jokingly refer to ourselves as the “old folks.”
Gone are the days of shopping at Toys ‘r’ Us and playing Santa. These days, we ask questions like, “What should I get your girlfriend?” and traverse the fine art of celebrating at times that coincide with family members’ obligations to other families.
Since my birthday is December 21, I get ample opportunity each year to contemplate my arrival at this juncture and consider what I want my life to be like next year. Odds are, it is going to look much like it looks right now, frankly. But it is fun to deliberate in anticipation of New Year’s and the “fresh start” that January represents.
So does all of this angst translate into quality written products? Yesterday, Paul wrote about his inability to convey his love of Christmas through his writing, even noting that he ended up writing a piece about an attempted suicide. I chuckled when I read his article not because I was laughing at his plight, but because I feel his pain.
I was feeling extremely optimistic back on December 3, 2007, when I suggested that this might be the most wonderful time of the year to write. But in the weeks since, I have struggled to write anything meaningful about the holiday season.
The subject of Christmas, and holidays in general, poses particular challenges for writers.
First, it seems like the stories have all been told before — many, many times, in fact. I simply can’t think of a novel or unique way to convey a fictional character’s journey to self-discovery through, as advertisers proclaim, “the miracle of Christmas.”
Along with that problem is the real danger and, indeed, tendency to write in an overly sentimental or cliched fashion. After all, is there any aspect of Christmas, the associated traditions, the problem of staying focused on its “real” meaning and avoiding its commercialization, not to mention family conflicts, that hasn’t already been written about at length? I don’t believe so.
Finally, I don’t think people are much interested in how other families celebrate Christmas. If someone wants to write about my family’s celebration tomorrow night, they are welcome to do so, but I think reading your local Yellow Pages aloud to your sleeping dog would be more exciting.
Let’s face it: Most families do the same sorts of things and those activities just don’t lend themselves to scintillating plot points. I’m going to put on my favorite sweats, watch the kids open presents (and that’s as much fun as watching paint dry because I just wrap up some cash because they can’t think of anything they want that is within the designated price range), and forget about my health and fitness program for the evening. In other words, yes, I am going to eat pumpkin pie.
There just isn’t going to be any high drama aside from the heartburn I am anticipating and for which I have fully prepared by purchasing a fresh bottle of antacid tablets. When we are finished with our “wild” celebration, we are going to burrow in for a nice, long winter’s nap. We are not going to rise early on Christmas Day to see what Santa has delivered because my kids are way too old for all of that. They will, in fact, sleep later than I will. The days of them waking us up before the rooster crows because they are excited about Santa having visited are far behind us.
So maybe New Year’s will lend itself to more interesting written pursuits. After all, there are those resolutions to consider . . .
Do you plan to make any? I’m still debating. I’ll let you know next week.
In the meantime, to all of you who will be celebrating Christmas, have a very merry time with your loved ones!
Be vigilant in case a wonderful idea for a blog post, short story, poem or other written product presents itself. It if does, be sure to leave a comment, tell us about it, and provide a link to what you write.