Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Writing Lab: End of the Year Traditions

I hemmed and hawed about it a bit like I do, but I eventually decided I did want to participate in NaBloPoMo this month. BlogHer apparently decided to repackage the monthly event as an ongoing Writing Lab with daily prompts though, so instead of making a commitment for a month, you're supposed to just pick up a prompt whenever you feel like it instead.

Personally speaking, I think I'd still like to at least try to stick with things all month. However, I might eventually find that I'm grateful not to have made an ongoing commitment. That way I don't feel like I have to quit altogether if I need to skip a few days because of work or whatever. I'm just going to play things by ear and see how it all works out.

I also decided to join the BlogHer Writing Lab Facebook group so I can share my progress and some of my posts if I feel like it. I've fallen way, way out of the habit of actually meeting and socializing with other bloggers and sometimes I wonder if that might be part of the reason I don't invest more energy in my personal writing. I tend to go back and forth between wanting an audience and not wanting one, so I hesitated to even mention I was doing this challenge to anyone. I eventually decided the worst thing that would happen is I make a couple of friends and discover some new blogs to be interested in though. So here we are.

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Holiday Art by Thomas Kincade
The year end traditions I look forward to the most don't go way back to my childhood or anything, as my fianc√© and I started them together at some point over the past 10 years. We celebrate a spiritual Christmas, but not in a cloying, heavy-handed way. We observe the liturgical season of Advent. We celebrate Mass on either Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. We've recently started abstaining and fasting on Fridays and other liturgically significant occasions, so we usually won't eat meat on Christmas Eve. 

However, I do treat us to a seafood feast or a vegetarian pasta meal on Christmas Eve, as well as cook a relatively hearty Christmas dinner. Unless we're unable to find one for whatever reason, Christmas dinner is usually a duck. (We're just not ready for more turkey only a month after Thanksgiving.) Seth loves leftover duck like it's going out of style, especially when I use it to make his very favorite duck chili. Side dishes vary, although I think I'm leaning toward some Southern-style staples this year -- like homemade macaroni and cheese, greens, and biscuits. 

Unlike most people, we don't really do presents for Christmas. Not only do we not really have the money to go all out buying tons of presents for everyone we know, but we're not really about "things" at this point in our lives. We aren't really permanently rooted as far as where we live, so we never know when we might be moving next and it's not really prudent to collect a lot of belongings. Also, given the realities of our relationships with most of our family members, the whole gift thing has begun to strike me as really hollow and I don't enjoy it the way I probably did when I was a child. If I feel the need to let go of money around Christmas time, I do it with anonymous donations to charities and organizations I believe in. That just feels a bit more in keeping with the holiday spirit to me.

I'm a reading fool, so I also look forward to reading A Christmas Carol every year. Seth and I watch all of our favorite Christmas movies -- A Christmas Story, Bad Santa, Muppets Christmas Carol, Jingle All the Way, and Love Actually to name just a few. Both of us love Christmas music, so we listen to plenty of it. (Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, classical choral music -- we love it all!) Some years, we make hot spiked tea or coffee and then drink it while we walk around the neighborhood, checking out all the Christmas lights. We like reflecting on everything that happened the year before and waxing optimistic about everything that might occur in the year yet to come as well.