holiday prescription

Call me crazy, but I love editing. There is something joyful about looking over the words that I’ve written, months later, and still loving them. I’m talking about the copyedit stage, when a manuscript, much like an adolescent becoming an adult, evolves and becomes its own person. It’s the stage when there’s more deleting than adding, as if the chapters want to shed their childhood trappings and get down to business.

The aftermath of this type of editing takes all of my creative juices and depletes my mind of intelligible thought. Once finished, there’s an hour or so that I feel like celebrating, and then I crash. My laptop remains closed for at least a week.

Such was the case 5 days ago. My remedy for replenishing creative thought is simple. I search for some project to occupy my hands and not my brain, at least on the surface. Happily, ’tis the season, and decorating for the holidays has filled my every waking moment since last Friday. It started with 32 feet of braided garland for the front door, then moved on to the 9 window swags made from discarded Christmas tree branches and holly cuttings and pinecones from around the yard—I had enough material to make 17, so I did; I like to give the extras away. Picking up a tree and decorating it with my husband and two teenage boys came next, followed by setting up candles in each window, something I learned was de rigueur after moving into a colonial-style house in northern Virginia.

And finally, there are the lights. I use white lights inside, but outside? That’s a whole other ballgame. Growing up in Michigan with a dad who had very particular tastes made me rebel just a little as an adult. We lived in a modern house: connected boxes with vertical redwood siding cascading down a hill. The only artwork was the view: a narrow lake snaking down the center of a valley. The words “spacious minimalist” come to mind when I think about the décor. Mother nature was the real star.

Colored lights outside would detract from the beauty around our home, my dad believed. And now that I am older, I tend to agree. But I no longer live out in the country, nor do I live in the city. When our boys reached the ripe age of two, we moved from Chicago to the DC suburbs, where lights of every denomination coexist peacefully.

Enter, the glow balls.

I learned a lot from my dad: how to paint, how to identify the proper tool for the job at hand, how to lay a tile floor…the list goes on. But it was my father-in-law who taught me how to make glow balls. A nifty construction of 50 clear plastic cups and a string of colored lights. Add recycled drycleaner hangers bent into hooks, and you can see my front tree from outer space—well, at least from the next block over. My father-in-law used a heavy duty stapler; I use an old glue gun. For three years, I hung the balls in the cherry tree next to my driveway. This year, I passed the torch to my 6’2” 9th grader. Heck, half the time, he didn’t even need the ladder.

Tully the Dog Photobomb

Tully the Dog Photobomb

And while he decorated the tree, I wasn’t idle. I inverted two tomato cages and created glow trees. Why? Because something needed to be put in the empty pots on our porch.

A little holiday mania was the perfect prescription for my brain-drain. I was coming off a 10-day editing deadline for The Queen’s Dance, a 107K word book. Am I ready now to continue writing book 3 in The Aurelian Guard Series? After warming up with this blog and writing a bit of bad poetry, absolutely! Now, if I could just figure out this year’s Christmas list, I’ll be all set.

Here’s Wishing You All A Peaceful and Love-filled Holiday Season!

p.s. If you like bad poetry, scroll down just a bit more.

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