If you’re one of those people who takes down your tree on December 26th, you may be wondering why I’m still thinking and writing about Christmas on the 30th. Well, I’m a little different. I trim the tree and hang the stockings only about a week before the big day, and I NEVER un-decorate until after New Year’s. So it’s still Christmas at my house.
This schedule is partly due to family tradition, but also due to time constraints. Other things take precedence. Packages have to be mailed well ahead of time, so that’s top priority. Next, the Christmas letter needs to be written and the cards made and mailed (see previous post and Christmas Cards). Then and only then, can I turn my attention to decorating.
It’s a lot of work, but it all seems worthwhile, especially if we’re going to have some company to come and enjoy it as well.
“This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather. I was snowed up at a friend’s house once for a week. Nothing could be pleasanter… We are sure of excellent fires and every thing in the greatest comfort.” (Emma, chapter 13)
I don’t usually quote Mr. Elton as an authority on anything, but in this case I think he has the right idea. Whatever our various holiday traditions, for most of us, it’s the “friendly meetings” we look forward to most.
Sure, for the kids, it may be all about the presents. But as we get older, our perspective changes, or at least I think it should. When my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I told him, “What I want, you can’t buy for me.” And that was true. I didn’t want the kind of stuff that comes from a store. I wanted the REALLY GOOD stuff, the IMPOSSIBLE stuff! I wanted to be a better person. I wanted enough time and energy to take care of my responsibilities with plenty leftover to do the creative work that feeds my soul. I wanted everyone everywhere to have the basic necessities of life. I wanted a cure for cancer and for the other illnesses that decimate people’s lives. And while I’m thinking big, I might as well throw in world peace too.
None of these things are within my power or control. Maybe that’s why I write fiction! As an author, I DO have the final say in my novels. I can see to it that the “bad guys” don’t get away with their evil schemes, and that the “good guys” get the happy ending they deserve. No one ever need grow old or die either.
Escapism? Sure, but I think it’s more than that.
It depends on your taste in reading material, of course, but I read (and write) fiction to experience other worlds and different lives than the one I inhabit, to be encouraged and uplifted by ordinary people behaving heroically in their ordinary lives, overcoming whatever obstacles threaten to bring them down.
No, as a novelist, I will never discover a cure for cancer. But I’ve had several people tell me that, when they were going through a particularly dark time, their favorite novels “saved their lives” by helping to keep their spirits up. Not necessarily my novels, you understand. Still, perhaps in a small way, what I do can make a positive difference. I’d like to think that’s true.
So please pardon my waxing philosophical here, inspired by the whole peace-on-earth-and-goodwill-to-all Christmas ideal. Here’s wishing you a 2015 with lots of the really good stuff and perhaps a few impossibles too. Let’s treat each other with patience and kindness and see what happens.
PS – I had a couple of other posts published elsewhere this week too. Please visit Random Bits of Fascination for a quirky interview with “Shannon Winslow, Superhero” (complete with my secret identity, sidekicks, and an unlikely villain to vanquish). Then, at Austen Variations, get a sneak peek at my new work-in-progress. Read chapter one of my next novel – a Pride and Prejudice sequel from Georgiana Darcy’s perspective.