I’ve often wondered why two of my nine books are about Christmas, a high percentage considering the number of topics to write about or even the number of holidays in a year. Just the other day it hit me: one was inspired by my best Christmas ever and the other, by my worst!
The ideas for both came directly out of life events. My best Christmas ever was in 1987, just a week after my second daughter was born. Presents and much of the usual Christmas folderol (which I dearly love) fell by the wayside as I basked (groggily – she wasn’t a sleeper) in the glow of tending my new baby. Waiting for Noël started with those emotions, a mix of joy and gratitude and contentment that gradually took on larger meaning.
When Posey Peeked at Christmas, published many years later, is about my worst Christmas ever. That was the year I peeked, not just at one or two presents, but at every single gift under the tree with my name on it. I don’t know which year it was. Ironically, I don’t even remember the presents. What stuck with me is an awful feeling of overwhelming dismay, as it dawned on me that surprises are half the fun – and sharing, the other. That Christmas I learned the hard way that relationships and process are more important than things.
In both cases, it was the emotions that not only lasted, but motivated me to write. As writers, we often fuss over plot and characterization, voice and metaphor, details of word choice and syntax and even grammar. But isn’t it the emotions that truly drive us onward, propelling us into and through a story?