Did you know that Christmas is just around the corner — eight weeks to be precise — and I am sure you are wondering what the perfect present is for a writer or you are wondering what to tell your loved ones what your perfect gift for yourself would be?
Times are changing and people are moving away from the materialism of the past. I remember back to massive Christmases, with presents reaching halfway across the room from the foot of the tree, the day taken up by present opening, the fun as much in the giving as in the receiving. I was told, once, that if we were to take up all the wrapping paper used in one Christmas across the world and stick it all together, then the line of paper would reach out across the universe as far as the moon. I am not certain if this is true but it’s a very unsettling thought.
And what about the crackers? The Christmas table just isn’t Christmas without the snow-flaked crackers, crossed over each other, all along the table. The paper hats that must be worn, the plastic toys that last, if we are lucky, until St. Stephen’s Day, the jokes that are hilarious in their un-funny-ness and the little red paper fish that tell us if we were happy, or sad, or in love, or even, Heaven help us, if we are grumpy. I sometimes wonder who makes those little red fishes and who first decided what they mean, whichever way they turn, inside the palm of your hand. The amount of paper that holds all that precious nonsense is extraordinary (it makes no sense when you look at the waste afterwards), but, without them, what becomes of the Christmas cheer and how does one eat the turkey without a paper hat on one’s head? (It’s actually ok for those of us who tend to have vegetarian Christmas dinners … the hats are no longer obligatory!!)
Whether it is presents galore, or crackers, or waiting up with the children at night to hear the jingle bells of Santa’s sleigh, or the putting of Jesus in the crib after midnight mass, or the hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts in the fire, or carols, or silly office parties, or family coming home and airports and boats and buses, Christmas is, above everything else, about love.
And if it’s about love, I just might have an idea for the perfect Christmas gift for a writer. It doesn’t need wrapping or a cracker to enjoy it, and it certainly won’t bother the moon.
How about a promise, in the form of a gift voucher, for a weekend away, or a full week away even, at the Half Door Writer’s Retreat, overlooking Lough Derg in North Tipperary? What more could a writer want than the peace and quiet the cottage can offer, after the festivities of Christmas, to get those words down on paper, or tucked safely onto the hard drive of the laptop? The Half Door is a place to unwind from the real world, a place to re-enter the magical world of your novel, or your poem, or your song, to tweak it to perfection away from the scramble of the real world.
Vouchers can be bought by emailing me at email@example.com or ringing me on 087 2576901. For whoever is the lucky recipient of the voucher, I promise that the door will be open in welcome, the kettle on and the writers’ desk waiting for their pen.
Take a look at www.halfdoorwriters.com and happy Christmas preparations to everyone at www.writing.ie
(c) Pippa Slattery