Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Time is Here, By Golly

by Deren Hansen

My title comes from the first line of Tom Lehrer’s, “A Christmas Carol.” Here’s how he introduced the song:

"It has always seemed to me, after all, that Christmas, with its spirit of giving, offers us all a wonderful opportunity each year to reflect on what we all most sincerely and deeply believe in.

"I refer of course, to money. And yet none of the Christmas carols that you hear on the radio or in the street, even attempt to capture the true spirit of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States: that is to say, the commercial spirit."

In the second verse, Lehrer sings:

It doesn't matter how sincere it is,
nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What's important is the price.

Whether or not we are immune to the relentless commercial drumbeat that fills the final month of the year, thanks to our simian need to track our social status we are all keenly aware of the quality of gifts we receive.

For most people, gift giving is tied to a handful of well–defined occasions. Writers, however, constantly offer themselves up for scrutiny because writing is the gift of our thoughts.

Words on a page are kind of program that enables another brain to re-create the thoughts—even the experiences—implied by the collection of symbols. The quality of the gift embodied in our writing is a function of the care with which we arrange and present our thoughts. It is a matter of both craft and to devotion.

This season of gift giving is a good time to review the gifts you give through your writing. Are they shoddy, perfunctory presents dispensed to satisfy perceived social conventions, or are they heart-felt expressions motivated by and embodying the joy of sharing something wonderful?


Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.

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