ELLEN GREY CARTER

i'm a writer. other stuff too.

Happy Hanukkah. Now Write About It.

As a photographer, I often take pictures of everyday life.  I take pictures of buildings, sunsets, things I find interesting.  Even if everyone else around me thinks I’m off my rocker.  But a lot of the time, I don’t whip out my camera or even my iphone to take pictures at family events.  Somehow, I don’t even think about it.  This happens with writing as well.  When I was at Thanksgiving this year, I had a few moments where I thought, “remember this.  Write about it.”  The only thing I actually remember is walking downstairs in the evening, hours after the Big Dinner, and bringing up armloads of food for everyone to pick at for supper.  I remember taking in the smell of the musty basement and the feeling of the stillness of the creepy half-finished, very old basement.  It contrasted so much with the recently remodeled kitchen above my head and the steady hum of conversation, cheers from a football game, and laughter from the board games being played.  But I never wrote about any of it, and all I have left is a sliver of what I could have had.  Writing everyday is important, it makes us writers a lot better.  A huge gigantic tonnage better.  So on to the point, eh?

Well, I’m not Jewish, and I’ve never celebrated Hanukkah before.  The point of this post is that the holidays are upon us, and if you are serious about writing, you should be able to see the get-togethers, or even lack of them, as an opportunity.  No one makes us feel That Certain Way like family.  Whether you are feeling lonely, or overwhelmed, or obligated…whether you are dreading this month or looking forward to it, you are probably feeling something.  So write about it.  Emotional times lend the best material, in my experience.

I for one, am very excited to have Christmas with my kids.  Finally, no babies!  Babies don’t get it at all!  My kids probably won’t either, they are only 1 1/2 and 3, but we are making some progress.  I’m also looking forward to seeing a good friend that lives way too far away.  Pretty much everything else, I’m dreading.  Christmas night, my cousin, sister, aunt, mom, and I have an annual Phase 10 game, that lasts for hours on Christmas night, where we all laugh and fight and someone always gets mad and leaves the game.  We reminisce about what it was like when my Gramma was still alive.  Where the stubborn streak in my family shows it’s evil face as we all tough it out to the end.  I’m so gonna win this year.

Everything else, I’m pretty much dreading.  Having to have Christmas with two new families, instead of with my mom and dad.  All of a sudden, I find myself with a handful of new step-brothers and step-sisters-in-law and my kids are no longer the only grandkids.  Everything I loved about Christmas when I was growing up is gone.

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season.  But whatever happens, as a writer, you can use it.

Merry Chriskwanzmukkah.

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4 comments on “Happy Hanukkah. Now Write About It.

  1. MissTiffany
    December 8, 2012

    You make a great point. I will often take photos of little things or scenery or some such, but at family events, it just slips my mind – I too caught up in what is going on. But you’re right, family events can give you so much fodder for writing. Last Thanksgiving, when my sister from college, we had our cousins over for Thanksgiving dinner. We set up a table in the basement, and all of us girls sat down there, giggling and gossiping (like girls do). At some point, after we had started saying so many funny things, I ran upstairs and grabbed my post-its, so every time someone said something hilarious, we wrote it down. There are so many things we would have forgot otherwise!

    I am very excited about Christmas too (mostly because I have a kick-ass gift for my sister and I can’t wait to see her face when I give it to her). It sounds like you will have a fun Christmas morning with your kids. I hope they will “get it” this year! I remember when my brother was a baby, all he wanted to do is play with Dad’s dry-wall chisel. 😛 Hope you have a wonderful holiday season as well!

    • Ellen
      December 8, 2012

      That’s a great idea…..bring on the post-its! I’m going to go out and buy some just for that purpose. I love post-its. The hubs and I just bought all the kids presents this year, and now I’m way more excited than the kids. Even though today they have been playing with beans, pouring them and such, and I think its the most fun they’ve had in weeks. I could have bought them a bag of beans and a bag of rice and they would’ve loved it. Giving is so much fun! Merry Christmas to you as well!

  2. stephsoul
    December 8, 2012

    חנוכה שמח, although I’m also not jewish, but I wish all my friends in Israel shalom, shalom & shalom!!!

    • Ellen
      December 8, 2012

      Yes! Shalom and peace to you! And to everyone in Israel as well >> Psalm 122:6-8

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