Monday, October 5, 2015

Hailing the Holidays


Hailing the Holidays
From spooky signs to phony gravestones for Halloween, the holiday messages reach us in all forms and types.  Designed by creative minds and hands.
 Now, I realize that most of us probably don’t do the Halloween thing.  We still find ourselves involved in writing something for the Holidays: either disclaimers on Facebook or in texts, emails, and letters explaining why we do not do a specific holiday; or pieces talking about what we love most about the holidays.
                                                  Which is it for you and when does it start?  
I gave up explaining to people why I do not participate in Halloween festivities.  I simply say, “God wants me to celebrate living souls and help keep them from being part of those restricted to one day of a freedom a year.”   I get looks, laughed, then that follow up of realization at how profound that thought really is.
BUT we do celebrate seasons, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  
My family does a newsletter in our Christmas cards.  With each newsletter, I like to add short piece on the history of one of Christmas’s symbols. (At least something seasonal.)   Then for friends or family that are new on the cards list, I include a special tidbit.
Every third year, the family does homemade gifts for the Christmas list. That includes cards.  Everything has to be hand made and personally executed.   The cards can be designed in the computer and printed off at home, but the message must be original. 
Out of seven Christmas’s doing it that way; we’ve yet to duplicate anything we’ve done in the past.  And people on the receiving end seem to like it.  I was asked last year when it would cycle around to the homemade Christmas again.  
With the kids grown and on their own now, I don’t know how successful such an effort would be.  But, because they are grown, I’ve started something new.  It’s a daily greeting in text.
I know you’re thinking by now; “What does this have to do with writing projects?”  The realistic answer is: It is a type of writing project. 
                                                          Start with a few questions:
1.      When do you start sending out Christmas cards?
2.      Why do you send Christmas cards?
3.      How many do you send, and how do you decide who gets one?
4.      What is the REAL message in your card?
Two years ago, I reviewed my Christmas cards list.  It seemed that almost everyone on it was also on my Facebook or in my phone’s contacts list.  I can send each and every one of those people a greeting any day of the year.  The others on my list only ever hear from me once a year; when they get my card and the newsletter.   Half of them don’t ever send me anything to let me know how things are in their world.
So, I created a series of groups in my cell phone and on my Facebook page.  Every now and again, I pick a theme or a reason and I type up a salutation and send it out.  Then there’s the everyday statuses that I post which are equivalent to novels. 
Last year, I posted a status; and sent out a note in messaging; a request for updated addresses for everyone that would like to continue to receive cards from me at Christmas.  Of the 40 people on my list, only 15 answered back.  And they only want original works; not the regular market cards that they are going to buy and send out themselves.  The reason: “We like the intermittent greetings you send all year long.  It’s much better than a card once a year.”
General consensus was this:  If you write it, it’s worth reading.  We know that you mean it and we’re not just on a list when it comes from your creativity.   Have you ever thought that way about something you’ve received? 
This is now the season when everyone in the church expects to see seasonal decorations and bulletin board messages, and calendar updates tracking Holiday events.  All of that is inspired by the Scriptures, and brought to life through some intense creativity.   I will never dare to re-write Scriptures, but my imagination must really get with the theme of the board if I’m going to demonstrate the Scriptures properly. 
So, as I work my way through the season, I have found that each literary and art project works with another to get things done.  As I write a bulletin board theme, messages, and captions; something in it may lend to a part of the annual newsletter.  Or part of the newsletter might lend to an idea and some captions for the bulletin board.  The artwork, scenery of the season, themes, and Scriptures of those projects give life to ideas for greeting cards, and highlights for the newsletter. 
Which holidays do you celebrate and highlight? 
The answer to that question will greatly affect when you set about getting your literary accomplishments for the season started and finished.  Is Halloween going to take some of your time?  Or do you like Autumn and want to develop projects that embrace the season but not its most commonly celebrated holiday?   {Sadly enough; Halloween IS more celebrated than harvest or Thanksgiving.}
It isn’t that hard to work Autumn without fitting Halloween in.  It’s based upon the same principal of political correctness that gets applied to Christmas. What everyone else avoids because of the Biblical content and connotation; examine it and use what is appropriate.  In other words; what secular society is rejecting is foundational material. But always study and examine ALL of the content; including potential innuendo a reader or viewer can draw from the work.
Then, pick a different word than the ones that offend.  Dress up the participants in attire opposite what is expected.  Describe the attributes of the season in your pieces; not the activities of the season.  Use identifying words that will draw attention to feelings, sounds, and aromas of the season versus the sights of the season .  Instead of Jack-O-Lantern; describe the happy pumpkin or the angry one if you are talking about decorations you’ve seen.  Although I’m not a fan of political correctness, we do have the means of turning it to an advantage in our projects.
Be strong in the responsibility of being a writer.  Let your words flow from the mind to the paper.  From the paper, they can become a form reality, as you share them.   Properly worked, those same words can become the season’s greetings that family and friends just can’t wait to receive in the mail, in the email, in a Facebook message, or through text.

                                So, as Autumn continues to float through, I will say: Seasons Greetings. 

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