How Writing Saved My Christmas

Early this morning, drifting between sleep and wakefulness as a snowplow rumbled past my bedroom window, I snuggled deeper, strangely relaxed after Christmas. Normally, I would be sleeping the heavy sleep of exhaustion after the high stress of the holidays. But this year we had the most relaxing Christmas I can remember in my whole adult life.  Because I made a seemingly simple, yet monumental, change.

First, you have to understand what the holidays meant to me before. Christmas has always been an exercise in chasing perfection. Remember those old Christmas movies like White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Christmas in Connecticut? Despite trials and tribulations, everyone joins together to create the Best Christmas Ever!

I ignored the troubles and focused on the perfect Christmas at the end. We could have a Best Christmas Ever if only I could buy the perfect gifts for everyone, bake and decorate the most beautiful cookies, fantastically decorate the house and then, create the perfect ambiance of joy and wonder and excitement on Christmas morning. (You know where this is heading.) And year after year I plunged to the depths when some things just wouldn’t work out the way I planned.

This year, I was not looking forward to Christmas Day with my side of the family. The thought of spending the day in the same place, with the same traditions and memories of old conflicts and worries over new tensions had me looking for excuses to get out of it. But how could we skip Christmas? What about the kids? My mother would be devastated! All I wanted this year was a peaceful Christmas. Ha! So, I invited my whole clan over to our house for the Sunday after Christmas.

This way, I had Christmas Day at home with my little family that I’ve craved for years. We stayed in our pj’s most of the day and watched movies and laughed! 

I also had a Christmas celebration with my side of the family that, despite the problems, was unthinkable to miss. Having it in a new place kept us from falling into the same old patterns, ways of thinking – and arguing. Now, I know this is not new for a lot of you. But my parents have had Christmas as their house since I was a child. This was a big leap for us. I expected resistance, but everyone agreed to the change, and it worked out well. It felt different and we actually had fun!

How does this all tie in with my writing? The perfectionism I described before was the way I tried to live my life for so many years. When I took Holly Lisle’s writing course, I began to see the mental barriers (perfection being one of them) I put up to keep from writing. But I also learned that I used those same mental barriers in all parts of my life. It took time and persistence, but once I began knocking down those walls, life in general didn’t seem quite so difficult and exhausting.

But I didn’t go into Christmas this year consciously thinking these things. I just didn’t feel the strong need for “perfect” this year and I honestly didn’t feel the lack.

Because I took a leap of faith to write, my life has changed in ways I never expected. To me, that’s better than the perfect endings in those old Christmas movies.

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5 comments on “How Writing Saved My Christmas

  1. Kerryn says:

    Squee and congratulations! I’m so thrilled that you had such an amazing Christmas that you couldn’t have even dreamed of last year! I know that Holly would love to hear about this so if you won’t email it to her I will!!

    Happy New Year and I know that this is just a little bit fantastic change that will make 2010 the best ever year for you. xx

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  2. ekcarmel says:

    Wow – thank you, Kerryn! Honestly, this last year has been such a leap off a cliff for me. Actually, I kind of like the feeling (most days). I’ll definitely e-mail Holly.

    Now that my girls are back in school, I’ll try to get my schedule back on track. I haven’t looked at anyone’s blogs lately – including yours. But at least I kept writing. That’s something.

    Take care.

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  3. Leah says:

    Oh, perfection! How you try to control and suffocate us in so many ways.

    PERFECT was my biggest writing barrier, too. And I believe I have crashed straight through it; although, it tries to sneak back in every once in a while.

    Congrats on having the courage to implement changes in your life. For a lot of people, change can be as scary as not being perfect.

    P.S. I’ve added your blog to my WP list so hopefully I will be able to read your chapters sooner than later. What genre is your WIP?

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  4. ekcarmel says:

    Hi Leah – thanks for stopping by! Yeah, Perfect does have that nasty habit of popping up again. I’m happy to meet a fellow recovering perfectionist!

    I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. I usually do that sort of thing in spurts. Thanks for reading my WIP – it’s an epic fantasy (at least that’s what I’m shooting for) with an ancient rather than medieval culture. I’m using the Sumerians as a model. Hope you like it.

    Eileen

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  5. […] reasons. However, the one that meant the most to me on both a personal and professional level was https://ekcarmel.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/how-writing-saved-my-christmas/ . It describes how I had an epiphany of sorts, where my writing and my life crashed together. I […]

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