Monday, December 08, 2008

The Season

As usual, I find myself way behind on so many things. I haven't begun writing out cards. My shopping is well, barely started. I did put up my artificial tree this weekend and now much of the challenge is persuading my dog Sophy that it is NOT for her to chew on—not the branches OR the ornaments!

Partly it's the weather. We stayed unusually warm until very recently. We still have some days that hit 70 degrees and I'm used to much colder temperatures in November! NOT that I'm complaining. I like the warmer weather. It just means that it doesn't always feel like the Christmas season as early as it would back in the northeast.

Partly it's the economic chaos. Like everyone else, I'm mindful of what I can afford and how I choose to spend on gifts. I always try to choose gifts that will be meaningful but this year it feels even more important not to waste money just to buy SOMETHING.

I find myself thinking about Hanukkah, too. For close to 30 years, it was part of my life. I loved the lighting of the candles and the concept of the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days. I don't light a menorah now but when I see the candles in the store, I'm swept back to moments when that was part of this Season for me, too.

As a writer, this gives me a chance to look at the Season with a new perspective. How might characters in a novel act and react differently in a year like this? What would be emotionally compelling—and not just in obvious ways? How might a character create peace and calm in the midst of financial disorder? How might a character find new and meaningful ways to celebrate Christmas with her children when money is tight? How might friends in a story help each other out when no one has any money? How might a character find success when everyone says it's impossible?

So I have my tree up, I've begun to brainstorm what I might get my children for Christmas and perhaps by next week I'll be starting to send out my Christmas cards. Meanwhile, I'm taking moments to savor what I love about this time of year. I'm letting myself question, too, all the old assumptions about what HAS to be part of this Season.

How about you? Are you ahead of schedule? Behind? Right on time? Are you rethinking anything about what you do for this time of year?