Perhaps I’m getting more selfish, but I decided some time ago that on holidays, I wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t want to. That means no long trips to see relatives. No elaborate decorating, because I don’t really see the point. A Christmas tree with silver and red glass balls, ornaments of painted wood, white lace snowflakes (many of which I made myself), strings of popcorn and cranberries, with a white lace angel on top. Among the branches, small white lights twinkling like stars. Hanging from the mantle, the stockings I made. And Christmas cards on the mantle and bookshelves. Add presents under the tree, and I’m not sure what else you need. No enormous meals, just some of the treats one rarely gets during the year. Christmas morning is the one morning of the year when one can legitimately eat a chocolate Santa for breakfast, for example. (As Ophelia did this morning. Although I believe part of his torso may still be left.)
So what does one do? Read. Get some rest. It makes for a very quiet holiday.
I bought myself a Christmas present: I went to the local crafts store and had three pictures framed (a Ruth Sanderson engraving I bought at the World Fantasy Convention, a painting by Janet Chui that I bought long ago, and a limited-edition print by an artist whose name I no longer remember – I can’t make out the signature – that I bought in a small gallery). And I got a present in my stocking: a certificate to get the antique slipper chair I bought reupholstered. (And some perfume and chocolate.) But at a certain point in life, you have everything you need, and you find yourself wondering how to get rid of things, rather than how to acquire more. (Of course Ophelia received many presents. But then, she’s still in the process of acquiring, and can one really have too many fossils and origami kits?)
What did I do? I rested, but I also made a list for myself of the stories I’d like to write this year. The list looks like this:
England under the White Witch
A Green Thought in a Green Shade
From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology: Cimmeria
To Merlin, with Love
Red as Blood and White as Bone
Dresses White and Shoes of Bark
Song of the South
The Music Lover
The Blue Women of Ubar/Ulan
How to Dress for the Firing Squad (Wild Rose)
I’m not sure when I’ll have time to write all these stories, but today I started on “Blanchefleur,” which I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Next semester is going to be very, very busy, but I do want to make sure that I focus on the writing. After all, this is why I did the dissertation – so I could get to a point where I can write steadily.
I think there is a kind of selfishness inherent in the creative life. You make sure that you have time to work on your own projects, that your creative work is a priority – as much as possible. So you carve out time and resources for it. In a sense, it teaches you a valuable lesson – that it’s possible to choose a quiet Christmas, that peace and comfort and joy are not only what the holiday is about, but things you can actually have. And, as important as all those, you can also have meaningful work.
Next week, I will take Ophelia to museums and parks. And I will prepare for the next semester, and try to finish one of those stories. I’m very glad this holiday was restful.