It's been a while, I know. What can I say? I work in retail, online though it may be, and this is getting to be the busy season for us. My boss wants me to magically double our sales from last year, so I've been a tiny bit overwhelmed! LOL!
So as you've probably guessed, like most writers, real life gets in my way a lot this time of year. This is the time of year when we all get together with family. The pressure is on to make it the BEST HOLIDAY EVER. So we cook food we don't eat any other day of the year. (For the record, I do NOT like Turkey. I like stuffing and cranberries, but the rest of the Thanksgiving Day meal I could pass up without a problem.) We invite relatives over that we avoid the rest of the year. Why?
Because it's the holidays!
I don't care what holiday you celebrate this time of year. And everyone is celebrating something. This is a cross cultural thing, this BEST HOLIDAY EVER stress we put on ourselves.
The best Thanksgiving I ever had I had by myself. I was pregnant with my second child, and within 5 weeks of delivery. My doctor said I didn't have to...I mean, I shouldn't travel to my mother-in-law's place two hours away. Hubby took Boy Child and left me alone with the TV and a stack of movies. I had THE BEST DAY. I will always think of that Thanksgiving as my very best because it was truly a day I could reflect on how blessed I am without the stress of having to make a big dinner or clean the bathrooms twice in one day, or make sure I have all the right family portraits out on my coffee table.
Immediately following Thanksgiving (and I do mean immediately, Kohl's is opening at 3 AM) the official Christmas shopping season begins. Now, I'm done shopping except for my kids, so I'm a step or two ahead of the rest of the throng. But I go out on Black Friday to watch the crowds battle over this special thing or that. I once saw a young couple get into a screaming match at a Walmart over a big tin of pop corn.
My friends, as a writer, this time of the year is silly with inspiration, especially if you write crime novels. LOL! But I want to talk about something else, something that is near and dear to my heart.
Since I was a little girl, I was a big reader. My parents had no money so I lived at my local library. Today, I think I have more books than that small town library did! I read anything and everything. Some of my best Christmas memories are of me curling up behind my grandfather's chair and reading all the Reader's Digest Condensed books he had on a shelf.
Today, in this hurry up, electronic world, books still make a great gift. And, with the explosion of second hand book stores, you can give more books. Or, if you have too many books on your shelves, you can donate books to various outlets so that someone else can enjoy them. Books rarely wear out, and just because one person read it doesn't mean someone else won't love it. Used books, unlike used socks, make excellent gifts!
Oh, I'm still a big cheerleader for the E-reader movement. Don't get me wrong. I will soon own my very own Sony e-reader and I'll load it up with tons of books so that I dont' have to carry an extra 15 pounds with me where ever I go. That said, there's still something very, very special about sitting in a comfy chair with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa or tea.
A book is a very personal gift, too. A book is a shared experience in many cases. My nieces will tell you that they own a copy of Wuthering Heights and they got if from me. Giving copies of your favorite book to a close friend or a relative is not just a gift exchange thing. You're actually giving a little piece of yourself. My favorite children's book of all time is "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad day." I can't tell you how many copies of that book I've given to the children in my life. And I always read it to them, because sometimes you have to read a book to a child to really share it.
So, this Holiday season, take a deep breath and relax. Instead of trying to find the perfect gift of the latest thing, take a step back. Give a gift that connects you to the person you're gifting. Give the gift that opens up new worlds, or comforts, or amuses, or warms the heart of the person you're gifting.
They will thank you for it!
And we, as writers, will also thank you!
By the way, if you're in Downtown Waukesha this Sunday, I'll be signing copies of MY book at Martha Merrell's book store from noon to 4 PM. I'd love to see you there!