Desire in Christmas Reflections and Writing

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) by Travis Richardson

I grew up in a hyper-religious family, but we celebrated Christmas as a secular holiday. No stars, no angels, no managers. Since Jesus’ exact birth date could not be confirmed, we stripped religion from the  celebration. Just Santa, Rudolph, and elves. God wasn’t missing from our lives since we went to church three times a week. Around Christmastime friends of mine whose families weren’t very religious went to church for midnight mass, nativity plays or productions of Handel’s Messiah. I felt like I was missing out.

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This was not allowed in our house

As I grew older, commercialism, the thing that Charlie Brown warned about, got the better of me. I wanted a real tree that touched the ceiling, perfectly wrapped expensive gifts, and a big joyous spectacle around an immaculate living room with a blazing fire. The sorts of things I’d seen on TV and desired. To me, it was the tangible visualization of what a perfect Christmas should look like.

Regardless, the Christmas celebrations were great. I celebrated not only with my immediate family, but with my wonderful grandparents and in later adolescent years with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It never looked like the staged 30 second commercials or glossy Hollywood productions, but it was plenty. My wistfulness was satiated by the actual moments of giving, receiving, eating, and overall family love.

Although different, the wants of an author have similar parallels. Most of us probably have a strong desire to be read by the masses and well respected. Some may want to live the life of a multi-million book seller like Stephen King, James Patterson, or Danielle Steele. (Here is a list of the all-time best selling authors).  Maybe a writer’s dream includes an unrealistic visions of exotic cars and mansions. In reality this only happens to less than 1% of writers. However, we should enjoy the craft of writing and publishing, and try to achieve the highest level of success while being satisfied that we are creating new experiences for future readers.   

Desire is both healthy and unhealthy. Wanting to improve is a good thing. To be stagnant and not grow in the time one has on earth is a wasted opportunity. Wanting material goods or success for vanity’s sake, however, will probably open an abysmal hole for a lifetime of dissatisfaction. The key is to do the best you can and enjoy the moment. (I think I am repeating this last line for myself since humans tend to follow patterns.)

I’m wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. May your days be joyful brimming with writing contentment, and may you strive for constant improvement.

Travis

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Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at  http://www.chekhovshorts.com,
and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. “Quack and Dwight” is his latest short story and can be found in the Anthology JEWISH NOIR.  www.tsrichardson.com 

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15 Responses to Desire in Christmas Reflections and Writing

  1. I enjoyed reading about your memories. I hope you also have a merry Christmas.

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  2. I on the other hand Travis have wonderful memories of Christmas. We all went to Catholic School, St. Mary Help of Christens. We went to 8:15am Mass every day and on Sunday with our class. We were relatively poor, but my mom baked for the nuns to help with tuition. To me Christmas was about giving, even the simplest item brought joy to me. Getting together with family, friends and neighbors and sharing love and joy. Traditions through the years have kept that joy alive. I am now 72 and enjoy the same traditions through my children and the joy with my grandchildren, Turn on the lights and it’s the holidays. :o)

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  3. Joe Stephens says:

    For us, like pretty much everyone I knew, Christmas was a hybrid of the sacred and the secular. We were people of faith all year, though, not just the types who went to church on Easter and Christmas. I do recall sitting down with my Bible for the first time as a child with the intention of reading all the passages that had to do with Christmas, only to find that they were very brief in a couple of the Gospels and altogether nonexistent, at least as my childish mind understood it, in John. It seemed odd to me that these short passages that made up a tiny fraction of the life story of Jesus, had become such a huge celebration, especially in comparison to Easter, which was a huge element in all the Gospels. I thought about stuff like that even as a child. That’s probably why we all became authors. We tend to think about stuff more than the usual person.

    Merry Christmas!

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  4. Good post Travis. Our childhoods definitely influence our adult lives, but understanding it all at one point is priceless. We, too, attended church every time the doors were open and I loved it. My parents believed that religious and secular could coincide, so we had not only the rock of our faith but also the holidays most children get to have fun with. This,of course, was only if the secular holiday wasn’t anything too far out. I am happy to be the byproduct of such a loving and understanding family and I believe, like Jim does, that it’s our “different” make ups that make us good writers. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2016 be the best year ever for you!

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  5. Sorry, Joe. I was just reading a blog post by a “Jim” and I “let my fingers do the walking.” I’ll never do it again! Lol

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  6. Neva Bodin says:

    Great post Travis, and explains why sometimes what we experience as kids makes us seek something entirely different as adults. And puzzles parents. Christmas is definitely what we make it. I had never thought of the amount of coverage given in the Bible, as Joe did, for the two holidays, but it makes sense, while Christmas set the stage, it was Easter that clinched the deal in the reason for the birth of Jesus. I hope you have a blessed Christmas! Sounds like even with your secular Christmas, you still had the foundation of your faith given to you.

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  7. katewyland says:

    Christmas was always a combination of religious and secular when I was young. Nativity scenes and Midnight mass along with Santa and light displays (and snow when I was little). Gifts were part of it, course, but grew less important as I got older. The real thing was the “time out” from mundane life. It was a fantasy time with everyone happy and giving. My life tended to be much too serious, so I loved daydreaming and Christmas was the ultimate dream. Now I write dream worlds.

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  8. Great parallel between holiday hopes and what we envision for ourselves as writers. I think how we are raised definitely influences how we see the world, how we dream, and how we see ourselves. It’s a tough uphill battle for those (like me) who were raised in a quiet “adult-centric” household where kids are discouraged from being kids. That barrier has to be broken to realize that the world is out there for you to grab and to just go for it. Merry Christmas, Travis!

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  9. Nancy Jardine says:

    Well said, Travis. Enjoy what you have but that striving for knowledge and to continue to do what you do better (i.e. writing) is something great to hang onto. May the festive season be good for you and your family – a first Christmas for a child is magical (even when the child is too young to appreciate all the trappings the parents are enjoying) 🙂

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  10. Doris says:

    Well written and so very true. Wishing you the realization of dreams in the most wonderful way possible, not only for you, but for everyone. Doris

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  11. Wranglers says:

    My life too was a combination. My Mom and Dad loved Christmas. They loved seeing our excitement. I think the best year I had was when my firstborn was 2 months old. I couldn’t imagine why everyone wasn’t smiling and enjoying the perfect season. The snow fell gently, the stores had Holiday music coming through their doors, and I walked along enjoying each light, and each bit of music. I know my nose was cold, but my heart was warm. I kind of get a warm feeling when I’ve gone through the storms of writing a book, and finally I finish it. Cher’ley

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  12. I greatly enjoyed your post, Travis, and the parallel between desires of Christmas and a writer’s desires. I, too, grew up in a household that celebrated Christmas as a combination of faith-based and secular Christmas, and I still celebrate it that way; however, I focus more on the spiritual side than the materialism. I love penguins and snowmen, but I love Jesus and the messages of love, hope, and grace His birth, live, death, and resurrection embodies. I desire a deeper faith and I desire to be a writer — I desire to grow in both. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Travis!

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  13. Mike Staton says:

    Interesting observations on the parallels between commercial and religious observations of Christmas and commercial and personal success in writing. You brought back memories of discussions I had with my Mom back in the day about Dec. 25 not actually being the birth date of Jesus. I’m not against the commercial aspects of Christmas some. I have some sweet memories of my mom and I shopping in various malls looking for gifts for others in our family. With her now gone (as well as my father), those memories are precious.

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  14. S J Brown says:

    Travis, Hope you had a wonderful holiday. I chose to be away from the computer and be with family so now I am catching up. Being part of that 1% never really fit into my plans but I wouldn’t mind a bit more exposure. So in 2016 I will be working a bit harder on marketing.

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