Happy Fall/Winter Holiday Rush!
In our family, we’ve survived Halloween (a favorite holiday, but also the start of the competitive gymnastics season), and we’re now speeding toward the rest of the stacked fall/winter holidays. In our family’s case, that means my birthday, my paternal grandmother’s birthday, Thanksgiving, my maternal grandmother’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, Christmas, my niece’s birthday, and New Year’s Eve/Day. We’ll then speed into my hubby’s birthday as we enter January, followed quickly by several more.
Usually, at this point I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but also excited. I love birthdays, and it’s so much fun to gather with our families. This holiday season, however, is my first once since my father died in June. So, our family is hitting the firsts: my first birthday without my dad, the first Thanksgiving without him (dad was an amazing cook, and had developed a gift for baking), and our first family Christmas without him (he picked out wonderful gifts for all of us). So far, I’ve chosen to deal with all of this by not dealing with it at all. I very deliberately choose not to let myself think about it, and distract myself accordingly. As an only child, this is somewhat more easily done by focusing on what my mother needs right now. My husband, who has lost his mother, father, and stepfather, stands back and, I suspect, is waiting for me to finally let it all sink in. At some point, I’ll be ready to feel all the feelings, and even perhaps channel it all into some creative output. Not yet.
But, this is not a post about sadness, but rather that sadness creates an opportunity to appreciate your personal community; I call mine my posse, although technically, I have several. I bet most people do, even if you don’t realize it! My mother has them, too. People she hasn’t really seen in years are suddenly asking her to brunch every other weekend. Her sister, with whom she’s close, is making sure she stays busy, is home safely from the late meetings she often has after school, and that she actually goes grocery shopping. Her neighbor, the most delightful retired college professor, has organized the two of them into a weekly dinner date where they take turns cooking the meal. She’s reconnected with friends from high school, and they’ve met up a few times for fun outings. One of my dad’s closest friends is both keeping an eye on mom’s heating and plumbing, his area of expertise, but has also taken on finishing the installation of our new furnace, a project dad began but couldn’t finish.
My posses have surrounded me, too. A group of friends gave me a lovely gift certificate to purchase a tree to plant in memory of dad, an incredibly thoughtful gift that shows their understanding of my love of gardening and nature, as well as the need to have a long-lasting memorial to him. My family on my husband’s side, people who have seen more than their fair share of loss, reached out in sweet, kind ways. And then, there is perhaps my largest posse, my writer community.
Writers are, as a group, some of the most thoughtful, kind, warm, and humble folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Readers, too, are quite delightful. My Mysteristas’ sisters are so much fun, and I enjoy all of our interactions; the amusing part is that I’ve never met any of them! And yet, I truly adore them, worry and care about each and every one; we support each other through trials and tribulations large and small, and the connection is sincere. The larger writer community of which I feel privileged to be a part, shows me daily how easy it is to be kind, and how meaningful a simple gesture can be. I’ve watched some of the street teams I’m part of reach out en mass to support a writer going through the loss of a parent-in-law and another a serious illness. I’ve seen readers and writers alike provide messages, stories, and memories to the grieving family of a beloved writer, Joyce Lavene. She was one of those people who could create a rich, meaningful connection with people, even through Facebook! The online memorials and remembrances continue to pour in, and I hope that each and every one brings healing to her dear husband and children.
So, as we enter the crazy season and the month of thankfulness and gratitude, I encourage everyone to acknowledge their own amazing communities (or posse(s)!); I can’t wait to see how much we have to say about them this month. Personally, I’m embracing the NaNoWriMo and Sisters in Crime New England (SinC-NE) communities this month. I managed 1800 words today, day one of NaNo (visit here if you’re not familiar with NaNo), and Friday is the beginning of Crimebake, the annual mystery conference for readers and writers. I submitted a portion of my manuscript for feedback, and I’m quite nervous. But, I’m also so excited to surround myself in the energy and creativity of these fantastic communities!
What’s your community?