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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The beginning of the holidaze

The full moon wove its crazy magic last weekend. On Saturday night around 1:00 a.m. I heard a woman screaming on Main street--OHNO! OHMYGOD! Was something dire happening to her? I lay in bed on high alert wondering if I should call 911. Finally the screams gave way to shouts that sounded benign--teenagers out carousing, I finally decided.

On Sunday night I heard the bleak and hopeless cry of a man--it was the sound you make when you've reached the breaking point--the scream at the top of your lungs that releases pent up fury. I lay in bed waiting for the next phase of this man's horror--the gunshot. But none came. I thought about what it would be like to be homeless, out in the street on a freezing cold night with nowhere to go.

On Monday night all was quiet until the street sweepers came by. It seemed that our street was especially dirty since the whir of their engines faded away and then approached again, coming down the alley by the side of our house. After that the train whistles began their nightly serenade, the clackety-clack of the wheels in the background.

As the dark time approaches I wonder what the night will bring. Will there be homeless people huddling into doorways? Will fights break out because of alcohol abuse and utter frustration? I feel powerless to help and it bothers me. I can bring food to the homeless Vietnam vet who begs at the side of the road, I can bring blankets to those who have none, but I can't stop the tide of unemployment, the people who have lost their homes.

Why am I writing this now? I guess because of the season we're hurtling toward--'the buying season'.  The ads have begun, the tinsel trees are up in the Mall. Buy this, buy that, twenty percent off sale! What does this feel like to those who don't have a roof over their heads or money for food?

 I remember my five-year-old daughter ripping through the boxes on Christmas morning and at the end of it feeling let down. Where is the perfect gift--the one I was waiting for? But there is no perfect gift. There might be one present that gives satisfaction for a time but even it will soon be discarded.

 Samhain marks the beginning of the dark time--when the days begin to shorten and we slow down, go inward and gather our energies. In this culture of hustle and bustle the 'buying season' disrupts the natural rhythms, putting pressure on us at a time when we need to go dormant rather than blossom. At the winter solstice the sun is at its lowest ebb but after that the days begin to lengthen and it is the 'return of the light' that we celebrate. The meaning for me comes with lighting candles to dispel the dark, a roaring fire, a resinous fir tree brought inside and decorated, family and friends coming together for food and wine and giving a libation to the goddess of winter. If I was church-goer I would want to sing carols with others, our mingled voices filling some cavernous space--and despite my pagan leanings there have been years I've attended midnight mass.

What is it about the season that you like or don't like? How do you get through the hype and craziness?


  1. Intriguing post. Luv the Samhain references as well. Groovy blog:)

  2. Very insightful - the buying season disrupts the natural rhythms. I've thought there was something amiss, but I couldn't finger it.

  3. I don't enjoy the hype and craziness. I stay in as much as possible during this time. I love the family togetherness, the excited expectations of something positive ahead. I enjoy watching seasonal movies with my kids and kicking back. And, now that I have two kids in school, I love the days off school!

  4. Beautifully written post. I came here after sorting the mess on my desk and finding The Willamette Writer from March 2011 (I really must get organized) with a blurb in Member News about your blog. Finally here. A good post to read on this Thanksgiving Day.

  5. Great post, Nikki. Evocative. I think all you can do, apart from slow down, is to make sure you give a generous 'Christmas present' to someone who has nothing or little - in the form of any charity donation you wish

  6. Hi Nikki. We feel it too - the spending frenzy at this time of year is overwhelming. I heard this past "black Friday" was a recordbreaker for sales. ($55 billion? Don't quote me, but I think that's what "they" said.)

    I do like to buy meaningful gifts for loved ones, sure, but I'd rather spend time with them, eating a lot of good food and laughing. Sadly, so many families are spread out these days; it's challenging for everyone to come together.

    I think ultimately the change needs to come from within the household (like so many things today). If we focus on planning for fellowship and family time, perhaps eventually our holiday preferences will outshine the cheap tinsel at the mall.

    Thanks for sharing your post with us. Have a wonderful day!