A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.
By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.
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#6: Gifts (Giving Them)
An adult’s pronouncement that “‘tis more blessed to give than to receive” will often be met with skepticism on the part of the average child. Part of this may have to do with the rarity of words like “‘tis”, anymore (one good reason of many to preserve old seasonal standards like “Deck the Halls”), but it will be mostly due to the counterintuitive nature of such a concept. “Suggesting that ‘to make a present’ of something for another at my own expense would make me happier than being handed a gift, free of charge – are you insane?!” Average Child cries, appalled.
Granted, on the surface, it may sound crazy. Average or not, I know Child Danielle didn’t get it. Giving people things was all very nice of me, I supposed, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as getting. Little did I know that giving can be a twofer: Giving and getting, too.
Even Older, Wiser, and Prettier Danielle doesn’t give a lot of Christmas presents. It’s not because I don’t enjoy giving, because I absolutely do – but not because I’m “supposed” to. I don’t want to get some long list of people presents just because it’s a present-giving day; I want to be minding my business in the store, see some item on the shelf/rack/whatever, think “So-and-so would adore that”, and get it for them so they can have a grand surprise. I like to give gifts that I know the recipients will find meaningful and special and in some way perfect. And I really, really like to give gifts I’ve made myself.
Have I yet mentioned that I love books? Because I do. Reading them, writing them, and making them. One of my favorite gifts ever given was a picture book I made for a cousin of mine, based on an assortment of my characters and the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It was a time-consuming, multi-step process.
First, planning: How to fit a “true love” couple to each verse of the song? Which of my characters would ever give his or her sweetheart ten lords a-leaping, eight maids a-milking, or a partridge in a pear tree? (You’d be surprised.)
Second, creating the artwork. Drawing’s a lot like writing, you know – craft an outline, build upon it, fiddle and tweak the heck out of it until it’s something you can live with. Each of my illustrations had to tell a story, and look good doing it. My end result was no da Vinci, but I was proud of it.
Third, more fiddling and tweaking as I added text and decided on formatting. Then came printing the pages, laminating them, and binding them so that they were less like super awesome placemats and more like a book.
Books, calendars, CDs and accompanying musical guides… if the receivers of these gifts get half as much of a kick out of getting them as I do making and giving them, that’s a lot of kicks. And knowing that you’ve provided those kicks really is like nothing else. Watching the receiver’s face light up, or hearing their squeals of ecstasy, or reading a thank-you message blown to bits with exclamation points and massive fonts and giddy emoticons – that is a gift in and of itself, and it’s kinda priceless.
Joy vs. the homemade picture book of a yet-to-be-famous author. Yep, I’m coming out ahead.
And now a little gift from me to you, readers mine: Share one or more of your Top Giving Moments, and bask in my joy!