Swirling Emotions of Unpacking Christmas…and Writing a Book

I’m busy putting out Christmas decorations for the first time in three years and doing so in a new abode. Hence, an opportunity for displaying keepsakes in varied spots, seeing cherished collectibles from different angles. And perhaps culling for giveaway items not so very dear or memorable.

This made me realize the process is a lot like writing when it comes to attachment and catharsis. And there’s also, in unguarded moments, a bit of unbidden melancholy and angst. Because with every heavy, dusty green tote hauled in from the garage bearing unknown contents until opened and remembered, emotional baggage is unwrapped.

Unpacking these feelings and memories for character development in a novel can be just as exhausting, and sometimes exhilarating, but also enlightening while emotionally draining. If you dare to take the time to clear gathered dust and see something shiny or tarnished for what it truly is, your protagonist may do so too.

Memories evoked of Christmases past filled with joy or heartache, jubilance or disappointment. An ornament with a name inscribed of someone no longer in your life. Stockings for beloved pets long gone but never forgotten and still loved so much it hurts.

How did this fragile Christmas angel ornament survive for decades since childhood? Through myriad moves and many changing lifetimes of holidays spent with family, friends, or in quiet solitude.

Some years these nostalgic items were left wrapped in crumpled fading tissue, hidden away in the garage, because it wasn’t a time to safely seek the security of love once felt or received in this supposed season of joy and reflection.

Like writing that chapter where you suddenly pause to ask—or awake at three in the morning to ponder—should I go there? Can I go there? Can I write about trauma, teen angst, lost loves, or bitter betrayal?

Can I unwrap the gilded packaging and get to the nitty gritty of the moment, conveying a message to be learned and instilled? Shall I keep writing to reach the other side of fulfillment, like wrangling an ornament to hang properly on the tree while my cat lurks underneath to bat it out of my hands.

Should I ensure that a timeworn treasured ornament has not twisted away from the view it is meant to portray to those reading my books, or observing my life’s collection arrayed on a tree?

The last three sentences I began drafting to finish this post are now erased, much like the pile of ornaments I’ve set aside as no longer wanted or cherished, unlike the ones kept simply because they are so old and tattered that no one else would want them, or understand their meaning.

Last year at this time I was in flux, moving from one home to another, and carrying all of my stored Christmas totes from one garage to the next, without unpacking, without a glimpse into the past with fond remembrance, or occasional sorrow intermingled with smiles.

This year I’m fully settled yet nonetheless between novels of my Other Worldly series. Number six, Altogether Alien, is with my editor for the month of December, and I have yet to write that first word, that opening chapter, for the next.

Almost like putting that first ornament on the tree, moving it around several times before finding just the right spot as others join it. Which ones work on that bough, and which ones don’t? Does it get lost among the clutter or still shine like a welcoming beacon of delight and wonder?

Should I cut the tattered piece of ribbon used to hang that bit of whimsy purchased decades ago while on holiday? Replace it with a shiny new version, swirling with possibilities for Christmases yet to come? Or shall I stick with tradition, the tried and true of what works, or what doesn’t for me?

Who knew decorating for Christmas would be so much like writing a book.

6 thoughts on “Swirling Emotions of Unpacking Christmas…and Writing a Book”

  1. Lovely reminder of how we are “so not alone” in dealing with mixed emotions of the season. Congratulations on wrapping your book and do enjoy the holidays in your new home’

  2. I have in all my moves through my life, managed at one move or another lost all my knickknacks for my holidays. I had a few that had come into my possession, very dear from my childhood… also gone now when I gave up my house. I have a few bright memories… a few my scattered mind has left me. But with the last move, leaving my house, now in a small studio apartment, I find myself with very few things I want to hang on to in this new incarnation of my life.
    And I don’t decorate for holidays, again, things I don’t want to keep year to year….

    I am happy you have those memories and yes, it can be very much like opening the doors to characters lives.

    1. I got rid of so much stuff in my last two moves, yet I still had so much to go through. We humans sure do accumulate 🙂

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