by Janis Patterson
Remember when we were children and it seemed that geologic ages crept past between one Christmas and the next? Now it seems that the pine needles from one holiday season are barely swept away before another Christmas is barreling toward us.
This year I’m soft-pedaling the holiday. We have no small ones at home (save for the furbabies, who really don’t care) and all our family get-togethers are at other people’s houses this year. Yea! I don’t have to decorate. Or even dust.
It’s not that I don’t have the Christmas spirit – I’m just tired. A publishing blitz of ten books in four and a half months, four new books written, freelancing and regular blogs, plus the normal things like family, friends, the day to day things of laundry and cooking and the rest… it gets exhausting. Add on Christmas shopping and wrapping and parties and it gets even worse. Plus I’m getting older. (I will have to admit that I have reached the cereal years – every time I move it’s snap! crackle! pop!) Somehow putting up wreaths and crèches and garlands and animated lawn ornaments – though they are beautiful – doesn’t really excite me this year.
The Husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I didn’t have a clue. I mean, there are the things we can’t do anything about, like world peace and more sales (lots and lots, please!) of my books (Please, Santa – I would like to earn back at least the costs of publishing) and for Microsoft to quit making us change every few months to new programs that are both unnecessary and overly complicated. Then there are the things I really want but we can’t afford, like a new Herman Miller Aeron office chair (which costs about the same amount as my first car) or an office/workroom built above the garage. We already have everything we need, and a lot of things we want, so this year we have agreed that while there will be a few little trinket packages for Christmas morning, our main presents this year will be our trips. We are planning a lot of trips in the new year – the FRW cruise conference in February, perhaps a trip to Egypt in March, a sometime trip to Vegas we won, NINC in October and Denver in June…
Oh, have I told you about that? The Historical Novel Society is a prestigious international association which is holding its conference in the US this year – in Denver in June, to be exact. And…. (drum roll) I have been invited to appear on a panel on “Egyptology and Elizabeth Peters.” You all know what Egyptomanes The Husband and I are, and Barbara (Mertz, aka Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters) was a friend. That invitation is truly a memorable gift.
While I love Christmas presents and parties and decorations, none of those are the true meaning of Christmas. There are those who can talk with much more eloquence than I about love, and faith, and grace, and all the other real things that Christmas means. Beside such cosmic truths poinsettias and reindeer and all the rest fade into insignificance.
So – this year I am going to try to be a better person, and keep the true meaning of Christmas in the forefront of my thoughts. I will be kinder and try to be a truly better person. I will try to treasure the things that really matter – family, friends, love, beauty and all the rest.
In one thing, however, I will remain the rebel – in gleeful defiance of the cleric Abu Musaab Wajdi Akkari (the one who said that wishing someone Merry Christmas is “worse than fornication, and drinking alcohol, and killing someone”) I will proclaim at the top of my voice “Merry Christmas to all!”