Thursday, November 30, 2006

Finding the Write Spirit

By Nichole Giles

It’s that time of year again. Christmas colors light up rooftops and shrubbery. Pine trees that tower toward ceilings are loaded with colorful lights and homemade bobbles. The warm aroma of baked goods drifts through the air. Garland and bows adorn our houses and our lives. And somewhere amid the clutter in a far off corner, someone puts up a tiny crèche. The pieces may be worn and broken, but they’ll glue it together. Make it last one more year.

“Can’t blow my Christmas money on a new one,” they say as they flock to the store to begin the madness as soon as they’ve finished feasting on turkey. Earlier. Next year, we’ll go earlier. Thoughts of frustration run through the heads of hundreds as they punch, claw, and fight for a five dollar Barbie or a three dollar toaster.

Others have waited for days to secure their place in line, cooking their “honorable” feast on a portable grill, and enjoying it on the sidewalk in their pajamas. Bigger, better, cheaper! Becomes the spirit of the day. If it plugs in, they will come. If it plays games, movies, music, or software…they’ll break down the doors to make sure they get one. No matter that they can get one next week, next month, next year. No matter that these things are available for purchase all year long. These people must have it NOW!

Gone are the days when Christmas shoppers had time to think about what they are buying and for whom. Here and now every purchase is rush, rush, rush. Forget about wooden trains, and hand-sewn dolls. Every child must have an iPod, or a new gaming system.

We consumers spend so much time and money fighting for bargains. Have we forgotten why we celebrate this holiday? Even the legends of Saint Nicholas speak of charity and giving. He is an iconic figure, passed down through stories for a hundred or more years. How can we forget what he represented?

I am one of those mothers who left my house before some people had gone to bed on the morning of Black Friday. I scoured the stores, I shopped, I bargained, I spent. And at the end of the morning, while I did have most of my Christmas shopping done, I could not force the Christmas spirit into my veins.

Later that day, I tried to write. I wrote—for at least an hour—about my favorite Christmas memory. But I had a major problem. The spirit wasn’t there. I hated every word I had written because I could not feel the spirit of Christmas. I had allowed my holiday to become so commercialized that I could not even force that lovely feeling into my words.

So, I am scrapping that attempt and starting again. But before I do, I’m going to take a few precautions. I will play some inspirational beautiful Christmas music while I bake some…well, something, and give it away. I’ll wrap a few gifts and place them under my tree. I’ll stand at my window and look at the snow that has recently fallen. Maybe I’ll fill out a few Christmas cards, and mail them. Then, I’ll brew a nice cup of hot chocolate and bring it with me to my computer to start writing.

I don’t know if it will work. Maybe I should sing a few Christmas carols with my kids. Oh, and then I’m going to read them the Christmas story. That should do it.

Whatever I do, I’ll make sure to stay away from the stores. I already know I won’t find the "write" spirit there.

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