Once, while in the midst of the (I believed then) obligatory baking of Christmas cookies, my friend Chris Torke called. Apologetically, she said that she had received a sheaf of poems from a student and had no idea what to say to him about them. Would I help?
"Yes!" I said. "And thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me who I am. Please! Bring them over right now!"
I think she thought I was kidding, but I was as serious as a heart attack.
To say the least, I don't "do" Christmas well. I try, but it always gets me in the end. I sink lower and lower into a bad mix of sadness, guilt, anxiety,and dread. I get tireder and tireder, until I can barely stay awake.
Anyway. After Chris's call that day, I salvaged what I could salvage of the burnt, broken cookies, cleaned up the mess in the kitchen, and swore, Scarlett O'Hara style, As God is my witness, I will never, ever bake Christmas cookies again.
I don't remember anything about the poems Chris brought, just that reading them and saying something useful and encouraging was something I knew how to do. I felt like myself reading them. It was such a relief.
This picture of the Christmas Motel, sent my pal Mary Nicolini, captures how Christmas feels to me. It cheered me up all through this season--though, alas, not enough to avoid the holiday plunge.
I know I'm not alone out there!
Next year, a few days before Christmas, I am going to offer "Christmas Motel: An Afternoon of Escape from the Holiday Spirit" as a Writers' Center class. We'll write, commiserate, write some more.
Refreshments: store-bought Christmas cookies.
I'm betting it will fill.