This sunrise was a gift, a splash of tangerine through my window reminding me that light conquers darkness, that each new day is a promise fulfilled, a gift to savor.
I rose at 4:30 this morning to write... a gift to myself but also to my family who has handed me the gift of flexible time and relative freedom to work on my creative pursuits, despite the echo of an empty bank account that goes with them.
I owe it to them to face the empty pages head-on, to pull the right words out of my dreamy head and arrange them on the page the best I can, instead of just chasing them around in that dreamland of my imagination.
And I owe it to myself, because this isn't a pretty knick-knack you place on a shelf and admire, but the kind of gift you try to use up, the kind that won't last forever.
It's a gift I've wished for for so long that I've been hesitant to open it, as if I feared the beautiful thing inside wouldn't fit me.
I've wasted time fiddling with the ribbons, but not any more. This week I'm ripping into it, no longer worried about whether it will fit, but determined to make it my own.
I'm adding structure to my dreamland. No more vague boundaries between projects... I'm keeping track of my time, submerging myself in one venture at a time as much as possible, finding a balance between creative and business.
No more multi-tasking, but pure focus on whatever I'm working on.
I've stepped back into my children's book; it's the closest to being finished and it just makes more sense to dress it up, slick back its cowlick, and ship it off to a potential agent or two... and then get back to my historical fiction, where the research has become a bog, slowing my progress.
Besides... I missed my characters (Winston, Eddie, Reed and Nate) and felt guilty that I just left them hanging, poor kids. I could hear them calling my name every once in awhile, but like a busy mother told them, Not now. Go play.
I think they've forgiven me for neglecting them. They were a little stingy with the story yesterday, but today seemed to forget they were mad.... we had a pretty exciting morning!
I haven't forgotten my personal history business, but it's like a model plane I began building but had to set aside, without its wings.
This afternoon I spent a few hours transcribing those interviews with my parents from the summer. I love listening to their voices, hearing stories I've never heard, imagining them in their other lives, those aside from being Mama and Daddy.
It takes time, but to me, it's worth it. Their stories are a treasured gift to myself. I need to get this plane off the ground and help others discover the same treasure... the treasure of family stories. So a block of my day, or at least my week, is devoted to it, too.
I'm able to do all of this during the week before Christmas because TG and Daniel helped me decorate the house and tree. My cards are ordered - they'll go out after Christmas, but that's okay - the Christmas season runs into January. The Epiphany.
We have a "no-bought-gift" policy this year, so no frantic last minute shopping for me. The next couple of nights will find me baking cookies, editing and scanning and uploading photos... those are my gifts this year, gifts of my time and cooking and photography, but not I'm stressing or keeping tabs about what doesn't get done.
Why didn't we do this earlier? Somewhere along the way I feel we lost the point of our celebration... the birth of Jesus.
On the phone with my oldest earlier this week, discussing our Christmas plans, I asked how he felt about not exchanging gifts this year. That triggered a near-rant that made my mother's heart soar, about the over-commercialization of Christmas and extreme emphasis on bought gifts.
"I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday now... it's all about family and just hanging out with each other. I think that's how Christmas should be, too," he told me.
This isn't a drastic change in attitude for him - even when he was small he didn't ask for much, and when he was older, he scolded me for buying him things he didn't need.
The other two are the same way. I have no idea where their pragmatic, frugal outlook came from - I was a zealous 'gotta have lots under the tree' kind of mom for years and Tom's not much better - but I'm very grateful for their attitude now. Perhaps they just rubbed off on me.
Those three are my best gifts ever.
Another gift... Tom's Pop is out of the hospital. Still no definite answers till test results arrive next week, though, so we appreciate your continued prayers!