As seen from various points of view through time, the Holiday Season changes. At least in my experience. As a child, we’re excited to see what Santa has brought us for our year’s worth of good behavior. Growing older, we begin to pay attention to the preferences of those close to us. A coveted CD, a gift card to the movies in the hopes that we will be asked to join in the foray, a gift of indulgence, such as perfume. As children, it’s all about the cookies, the parties, the presents. Somehow, as we age, it morphs into an expense, an obligation, an attempt to make family peace. For some, the religious aspect of whatever holiday is celebrated, either rises to the top, or settles to the bottom.
In the novels I’ve completed so far, the point of view I’ve taken is one of third-person omniscient, which means you, the reader, are privy to the thoughts and feelings of each character. Most novels are written from this perspective. Memoirs and non-fiction tend to be written from the first-person point of view, thus we know the thoughts and feelings of only character, the narrator. I believe it is understanding both the protagonist and antagonist’s point of view that allows us, as the readers, to cheer for one and boo at the other. In some long-ago counseling class when I was working on completing my Masters, we discussed perspective. Conflicts arise when one cannot ‘see’ or understand the point of view of another. To aid in resolving conflicts between students, we often encourage them to ‘see’ the situation from the other person’s perspective, usually followed by questions such as, “How would you like it if . . .” in an attempt to get them to try on someone else’s shoes. Sometimes it worked.
As one of the assignments that my Algebra students needed to complete for their Graphing Unit, they were to choose a graph we’d covered in class, and write a paragraph or so from the graph’s perspective. Many students struggle with this. The one’s who were able to complete the assignment fairly easily, generally tend to be less conflict-ridden in their lives, and began with something like, “Hi. I’m a circle graph. I’m divided into sectors that show percentages and a category.” I invite you to do the same.
Observe the wrapped gifts sitting below a tree. What do they see from their place under the boughs? Lights, ornaments, candy canes? Are they a stepping stone for the cat to climb up the trunk of the tree? Do they know if the receiver will be thrilled, or disappointed? Or, try a centerpiece on the holiday table. What does it observe regarding the food? The guests? Many people decorate their tree with ornaments created by the children of the family. What stories could the ornament share? How has the child, the family, changed over the years? What about the candles lit on the Menorah? Does each have a story to tell, an expectation for itself? The five dollar bill you placed in the red bucket next to the bell-ringer representing the Salvation Army, what is its story? Where will it go, what will it buy? Perhaps a grander attempt would be to take, “Imagine a world with no countries, and no religion, too,” from John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, and expound on his thought.
If you’d rather, begin a brief history of your family’s traditions at this time of year. Start at the beginning and attempt to recount any changes or additions or deletions. I’d wager your perspective will vary with the passing of each year, as you gain understanding, and hindsight. Moving towards New Year’s, write something from the perspective of your New Year’s Resolutions from last year, or ten years ago. Or, jump into 2010, say around June or July, and with the list’s voice, make note of your progress. Have you accomplished half the things you told yourself you would? All of them? None of them? Keep in mind, you’re writing as the list, not you!
With all of the stimulation, perhaps a poem is itching to be released onto paper. Make a list of the five senses, then add ‘thought’. View the scene in your living room or dining room or out your front or back door. Add at least one noun for sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, then flesh it out with an adjective or two (they answer the questions how many, which one, what kind), or a prepositional phrase (into the garage, under the chair, through the leaves). Jot down what words come to you, then go back and read it. What feeling does it invoke? Use that as your title, and the sense-related lines will support the theme.
There is no right or wrong. Only a different perspective. And if you can ‘be’ the gift under the tree or the pine cone in the centerpiece or the snowman looking in the window, notice if your holiday is a little more blissful when Uncle Charlie drinks bit more eggnog than he probably should have, or John didn’t decide to come home from college, or what it means to Grandma Rose when family visits her in the assisted living complex. This time of year elicits all kinds of emotions in people. What does it draw forth in you? Allow that to be your muse, to direct your creativity. Write, sing, play, sculpt, paint, draw, and move in a way that expresses what perhaps words on the tongue cannot. “Choices”, the title of a short story on my web site (www.myjoyenterprises.com) was one of my first attempts at a different perspective. Which will you choose? Or, which will choose you?