Friday, December 23, 2011

How to Write a Christmas Story

A re-run of blog postings past, this one first published December 15, 2008. Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for reading "The Damage is Done"!

I was re-reading my holiday posting from last year and realized that it had all the predictable elements necessary for your standard-issue Christmas story.

In it, the narrator (and I’m making a distinction here between “narrator,” “author,” and myself—all of which, it seems to me, are merely epistemological constructs…) 

Um, where was I? Oh, OK, “predictable elements” of a Christmas story:

The protagonist starts off rather gruff and cynical. His environment—bleared by toil, greed, and commerce—seems to mirror his callous emotional state. But a turn of events cause him to have some sort of epiphany—a sudden insight into his own personal pathology, as well as the true nature of humankind. All of which leads to a melting away of his cold-hearted cynicism. Somewhere a Christmas tree ornament jingles, he wakes up tangled in his bed sheets, sleds down Mt. Crumpit, stands alone on a stage and recites from Luke chapter 2, and the true meaning of Christmas is cheerily re-discovered. By the time the ending credits roll, everything is as soft and mushy as a grocery bag full of rotting yams.

Oops…Was that cynical of me?

Looks like the three Ghosts of Christmas will be paying a visit at midnight again this year.

The problem with reliving the Christmas story arc every winter is that it can be emotionally exhausting. First there’s all those cloying Whos down in Who-ville, your obnoxiously cheerful nephew and his guilt-inducing handicapped tot, a prepubescent squeaky-voiced red-beaked reindeer, and your own beagle who mocks you while you’re trying to direct the annual pageant.

I’m no different than anyone else. It’s a lock that, at some point during the year, things will go south.

Friends move away
Family members fall ill
Relationships strain
My own attempts to be a better person inevitably fail…

Until sooner or later, I find myself standing on a metaphorical bridge, ready to leap into the icy void of despair waiting below.

And yet, what power—what force is it—that finds me once again standing beneath these December stars, gazing up a the night sky, lost in thought, contemplating all that has come before in this past year?

Until I realize I’ve been staring only at the brightest star in an otherwise black sky, while a voice inside me once again picks up a long-running, if one-sided, impassioned conversation—questions, frustrations spilling out like dark ink…


An answer of sorts
Travels back through this chill night air
And somewhere inside of me
Is reborn


Mr. Daddy said...

Brian, I found this poem a while back, and it somehow seems to fit your theme...

What can fill that empty space
That seems a hollow pit.
When something there is missing
And nothing seems to fit.
How do you fill the emptiness
And satisfy the inner hunger;
When all in life has left you starved
But no where's found the answer.
Outside yourself, you start to look
But still there stands the void.
The little things you used to love,
No longer seen enjoyed.
Don't talk to me of Jesus,
For I'm his and he is mine,
but even though I know him;
I'm still not feeling fine.
Tomorrow, I'll go searching,
And tell you what I find
But if my search should prove in vain;
It will have satisfied my mind.
-- Submitted by Gloria Sarasin from Trinity, North Carolina

Merry Christmas to you and yours :o)

Anonymous said...

Great post...and awesome poem above...

Merry Christmas!