Monday, December 15

Let's talk about Christmas

I went to a writers' meeting last week. They are a bunch of talented, funny, scary-smart people and I always love the meetings. I am the only romance author there--sigh--but they are (with one notable exception) supportive and kind. We are not a critique group, unless someone asks for that. We just talk and eat and laugh a lot. Usually there aren't many surprises.

However, this week, I was surprised. Out of the dozen or so of us in attendance, only about three of us really liked Christmas. Our writing assignment was about gifts, and a few didn't bother because they disliked the season to the extent they didn't want to write about gifts. A couple of the stories people read were so sad I was almost in tears.

It was a long meeting, filled with much conversation. They all loved it. I felt vaguely unsatisfied, because I do love Christmas. I think it's a happy time, a time to do good unto others (I shouldn't need a calendar reminder, but I do), a social and spiritual time. It is the only time of the year I long for the "good old days," but even then it's in a happy way.

I know, I do, that it's not this way for everyone. It's a rough time to be alone. It's different for non-Christians. Depression often rears its ugly head in huge proportions during this time. But the meeting made me wonder, and once again I'm asking questions. Everyone can answer, but I would really like to hear what other writers have to say.

Do you love Christmas? Hate it? Feel indifferent? Are you annoyed by Christians (like me) or by non-Christians (I often am--and hurt because they make fun of my beliefs at a time that is so precious in my faith)? Do you turn off the Christmas music or listen to it from October to January? How does Christmas affect your writing?

Thanks for coming by--and for the answers! Have a great day.






34 comments:

  1. I tried to send you some cheer with pictures of my Mom's quilts. They had been handed down from her Mother's family. So, I to tie that back to Christmas, I try to remember the reason for the holiday, and enjoy my time with family. I actually enjoy the "grateful" vibe around Thanksgiving better. Christmas effects your writing, because it pulls you to so many social events, plus all the planning. Thanks for posting, made me stop for a second and reflect on the important things.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I agree about that grateful vibe, and try to keep it alive through Christmas, too.

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  2. I love the entire month of December, because it is Party Central at my house, with three birthdays plus Christmas and New Years. I've been more stressed out the past several years due to financial strains, but the kids have never complained of skimpy Christmases, just the travelling we sometimes have to do, lol! There are some years where I'm singing Christmas carols in June, and others not until the week before, but I focus on the KIDS and FAMILY and usually the 'grinchiness' disappears. I am especially thankful when the snow is minimal, or so deep we get 'snowed in' and have to stay home. I've found the older I get, the less tolerant I am of driving in the stuff!

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    1. Hi, Molly. I'm like you--love the whole time. I don't even mind snow as much since I'm retired and picking up and going south for a week isn't an impossible dream! I think you're right about kids and family, too--they keep it going.

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  3. I love Christmas - i love the houses the Christmas throws up on (as my nieces say), the focus on family (at least, that is how we do it), the songs and movies and books. Yes, the extra time shopping pulls me away from my writing, but that's okay. And yes, the extra money spent could be saved or used in another way. But the joy of the season, the giving spirit of other people feeds the soul. Sometimes you have to really look to find that giving spirit, but it is always worth it, I think.

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  4. I love Christmas, but it doesn't really affect my writing.

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    1. That's good. I must admit, it really brings mine almost to a dead stop, but it's so worth it to me! Thanks for coming, Arsoleen!

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  5. Do you suppose the sad vibe at your meeting was because there were no other romance writers?
    I have always enjoyed Christmas, but I've enjoyed it a lot more since I gave up my nursing career to become a full-time writer. I set my own hours now, so I have the time to devote to making Christmas as special as I possibly can. Finding the time has been difficult in the past because there is no such thing as Christmas break when you work in a hospital, and I usually had to work on Christmas Day. Many people consider Christmas to be just another source of stress in their already stressful lives, which is probably why the Christmases when we were kids seem so much better than those we experience as adults. And yes, it's a lonely time of the year for many. Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in with not much to look forward to until March or April. I'll feel bad enough in February. I see no point in starting the blues any sooner than necessary.

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    1. I'm with you on the SAD, Cheryl--January's soon enough for that! I loved Christmas when my kids were home, and even when they were gone and I was still working (at the post office, no less) I loved the excitement and the sentimentality of it. I agree though that it's a special kind of fun when you can set your own hours.

      I wonder if you're right about it being because I was the only romance writer--we do tend to be a happy bunch. :-)

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  6. I guess I'm indifferent. I have never been much into holidays. I probably have 5 different trees in my garage attic given to me by people who were insistent that I needed a tree. I haven't put one up in years. I do love to look at the beautifully decorated houses and lawns of others though. I don't like to be tied down to certain days. I often buy gifts I see something that seems perfect for a person but I've never been good at waiting 'til a special occasion to give it to the person. Hey, come on over to the house and eat any time, you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving! I'm not religious so Christmas doesn't have any particular spiritual meaning for me but lately I've sort of resented the Christmas police dictating what you should say. I've always used Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas interchangeably. I think you should gratefully take any well wishes you get how you can. When I still sent Christmas cards, I used Xmas (X being Green for Christ, after all) until I discovered this offended some. I don't think the Wabash Courthouse should feature a manger scene on the lawn. Religious displays are for churches, not government buildings. Not all taxpayers are Christians. But I don't feel strongly enough to throw a fit about it as some people do about Happy Holidays. Like so much else in American life, even Christmas seems to create a division. So, there I guess you have the "bah, humbug" side of it, Liz!

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    1. Not really the bah, humbug, Vic--you don't seem to get particular pleasure out of ruining it for anyone else. :-) I never liked Xmas for the simple reason that my mother didn't and it carried over. I definitely don't have a problem with "happy holidays," either, and I think those who do are looking for a reason to complain.

      Had you been at the meeting, I think your feelings would have fit in with the majority. No one was hateful or divisive.

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  7. Oops, Greek, not green! And I forgot to say, I don't think Christmas affects my writing one way or the other.

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    1. LOL, I wondered about that--thought something new had come about that I was behind on. As per usual!

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  8. Now that I'm housebound, I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I miss going out shopping and seeing the lights on the houses like I use to. I still enjoy baking and seeing my family on Christmas day, but the parties and outings are all in my past now.

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    1. I think that would affect my feelings, too, Ilona. I'm still very mobile. However, I think if I could stay in my house and still be busy all the time (cookies, anyone?) I might be okay with it.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  9. Hi, Liz: I like Christmas. I like buying for others, the music, the movies. However, after having sinus and bronchitis for two weeks, I'm kinda numb from the drugs.

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    1. Oh, yuck--been there, done that, Vicki. When I was a kid, I had earaches on more Christmases than I care to remember! Hope you feel better soon.

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  10. I always say, I would like Christmas a lot better if it was celebrated a different time of the year! About half the time (beginning when I was a child), I get sick right before Christmas. In fact, right now I'm recovering from the flu (despite getting a flu shot).Despite that, I mostly enjoy Christmas. I like the lights and the colors (my living room has red and green decor year round) and the trees and greenery. My husband loves Christmas so I go all out for him, we have two trees (real ones) and decorations all over the house. I look forward to getting together with friends and going shopping with my grown daughter. I don't really celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday, although I was raised that way and think the nativity story is lovely. I especially like that nativity sets usually have animals gathered around the manger. So much of the holiday actually comes from other religions and traditional celebrations and stories, and the idea of celebrating the winter solstice is very ancient. My outlook is, hey, I'm for any excuse to have a party and celebrate!

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  11. I love Christmas! It's been an especially magical time of year for me since my daughter was born (28 years ago). We have a small family - just the three of us most years - so building family holiday traditions has always been very important to me. It warms my heart to see how important they are to her, too. This year feels even more special than usual because now that we're settled in the new house I'm able to have all my decorations out again, do my holiday cooking and baking, and my daughter will be here in 6 DAYS!!

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    1. You'll have the best time, Alison! Merry Christmas to you all.

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  12. Hi Liz:
    I like Christmas. I grew up Christian, converted to Judiasim and raised my kids Jewish, divorced, and became a mixture of everything. Today, I'm mostly what I think of as a spiritual being. Ha ha. BUT all of my Aussie family are Christian so I've always been able to celebrate with them and then put up a Menorrah and make latkes with my American family. So I straddle the fence, embracing all. It's a time for friends and family and get togethers and giving of gifts, cards, time, and well...just remembering others.

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    1. Yes. Exactly. I feel good just reading your comment, Roben!

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  13. Speaking as a non-christian, it doesn't bother me at all. We celebrate Yule, which is much the same, but without all the presents and commercialism. It's about preparing for the rebirth of nature and giving thanks for the past years blessings.
    What I like most about Christmas is giving children a little magic to look forward too. Life is tough. Kids need a little magic.
    What I don't like is the high expectations that stress people out as they try to meet those expectations. I think people would be happier if they scaled it down a little.

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    1. Magic was my word for 2014, and it has cropped up more often than I would ever have imagined. Commercialism has done its greedy best to dampen that part of the season, hasn't it?

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  14. I have always loved Christmas and when our children were small, the time seemed extra special, trying to surprise them with creative gifts. My husband and I have large families and I took some of the constant get-together a for granted until losing my father and several extended family members within a 2-year period. Since that time I have valued each Christmas and hold my memories close. (Forgive the iPhone typos)

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    1. I think that's me, too, Cathy. My kids are in their 40s and I'm still surprised they don't want surprises anymore. :-)

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  15. What Christmas Means to Me - Do you Believe?
    By Marcella Simmons
    http://familylifefocus.com/

    As a child, Christmas was a special time of the year. We were poor and never had much and we didn't expect much but we were happy. I remember one Christmas that momma bought a large plastic tea set for my two sisters and I and we were the happiest children on the street. Christmas morning all the neighborhood kids would ride by on their shiny new bikes and they'd show them off because they knew we didn't get one. That didn't matter to us. Christmas was a glittery, red, green and gold time of year and we welcomed it regardless.

    Being poor is just a state of being I suppose. But you can still be happy even when you're poor.

    We never had much and didn't expect much but we managed and we turned out okay in the end. I'm sure that if my parents could have done any better, they would have. But we had each other and we were happy to some extent.

    I use to think that everyone believed in Christmas but in adulthood, I learned the hard way that most Christians thinks it's a paganistic holiday and don't celebrate it or any of the other holidays that we as kids always enjoyed so much. We knew that Christmas was a symbol of the birth of Christ although Santa Claus made it fun for us, hoping that he would bring us a gift under the tree. The Easter bunny was fun too and we hippity-hopped all the way down the bunny trail and loved the boiled eggs and surprise filled-eggs that we might have stumbled upon while we hipped and hopped and had a wonderful time. We turned out all right as adults.

    I know that Santa Claus is not real and that he was just a man doing good unto others, and that the Easter bunny meant well by helping kids have fun! Why take the fun out of life for kids! 'Little Red Riding Hood', the 'Three Little Pigs' and 'The Three Bears' taught us lessons in life. 'Danny and the Dinosaur' and 'Harriot, the Spy' filled our heads as we read during the summer months instead of watching television all day. Back then, poor kids only had black and white sets if they were lucky enough to have a TV set at all.

    I'm just saying that if you take all the good away, what have you done? It's better to believe in something good rather than believe in nothing at all.

    People are bound by their beliefs so harshly that it makes them sad and miserable. A lot of selfish pride keeps them from believing and they live a life of depression and misery. It's not for me. Spending money at Christmas cheers me up and makes me feel good and when I do something especially nice for someone, it makes me happy. What's wrong with that? If I died tomorrow, the money I had today would only be spent on my funeral or given to some charity or fought over by my grown children, if I had any money at all.

    What Christmas means to me is that although it's a symbol of the birth of Christ, it's also about sharing, and not being a scrooge. Christmas is about having fun, enjoying family and fellowship and about knowing and being thankful that we have a Lord and Savior to save out soul at the end of life's way.

    Some people don't believe in God at all. My answer to that would simply be: it's better to believe in something good than not to believe in anything at all.

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  16. I love Christmas and the hope it inspires. And good will to all men.

    Being out in the retail sector, I've seen it all around the holidays but I still believe in the best we can be. This will be the first year in over ten, that I don't have to work on Christmas Day. And I'm kind of excited about enjoying the entire day with my family. Instead of waking them up, opening presents, and rushing off to work while they head back to bed.

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  17. I love Christmas! I love decorating, baking cookies, buying gifts...everything! I think it's sad that many of the members didn't participate in the assignment just because they didn't like Christmas or didn't want to write about gifts. You're writers...make something up! It's called fiction. ;)

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    1. Lol. Most of them are hobby writers, which makes them see things differently than I do--not wrong, just different. Merry Christmas, Chrys!

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