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The Writer's Life

On Writers and the Holidays

The holidays, for the average person, are a time for celebration and family, a time of good cheer, good will, good… karma? Writers, of course, are not average persons by any system of measurement, so what does the holiday season mean to us?

Garrison Keillor says, “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”

I suppose that’s true, especially when you think about how commercialized the holidays have become. For many writers, commercialism is hardly something to celebrate, and yet the holiday season still manages to bring forth from them stories about the underlying good in many people. It just depends on your point of view, kind of like the difference between “damn, I got wet in that thunderstorm,” versus “I got drenched and I loved it.”

In that spirit, I had an idea for next holiday season that Dona and I will try to implement among the relatives. No more gifts for the adults, and in their place, each person (kids too) will be tasked to tell a holiday story. They’ll have the option of reading their own work, or a published piece. I hope it works out.

So far, it’s been a good holiday. Among my Christmas gifts was a book I’ve been wanting for more than a year, which was out of circulation but has just been brought back by New York Review of Books—In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass, one of America’s finest writers of fiction and essay, although he’s rarely mentioned in that company these days.

Gass is still alive, as is his wife. He should be about 90 by now. It’s great to see his book brought back in time for him to appreciate it.

The downside of the holidays is mainly the loss of writing time to gift buying, tree trimming, visiting and being visited. You writers know how that works. Not that I mind so much, but it seems the best ideas and writing opportunities come along when one has the least amount of time to devote to them.

Upside: Our annual holiday party made a successful transition from Michigan to Washington. Although we scheduled it a bit late and many invitees already had other plans, we (co-Pub Kelly of TLR and I) still hosted a good crowd.

Downside: Enduring Dona’s annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” perhaps the sappiest film ever made. (Why couldn’t the North Koreans have hacked that one?) Did you know the movie flopped at the box office when it was released in 1946? What does that say about our society now?

So I guess I’m back to blogging. It’s been a few months. This time around I’m not going to succumb to the pressure of blogging every week. From now on I will write as the mood strikes. No more Saturday Morning Post, which is fine, as I was pretty tired of the name. It won’t always be about the writing biz either, although usually. I may come up with a new name, and maybe a new look as well, sometime after the New Year.

’Til then, I hope you’re all having a fine holiday.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


13 thoughts on “On Writers and the Holidays

  1. You just topped off a wonderful Christmas day. I’ve missed keeping up with you and Dona and Henry. Welcome back and happy holidays.

    Posted by Darrelyn Saloom | December 26, 2014, 12:52 AM
  2. Looking forwards to the new name and look, though The Saturday Morning Post is fine by me. Happy Holidays.

    Posted by nadiaibrashi | December 26, 2014, 2:44 AM
  3. Your post was a good ending to a low key, but thoroughly enjoyable Christmas. Happy Holidays to you and Dona (and Henry).

    Posted by michellemorouse | December 26, 2014, 2:47 AM
  4. Glad you’re back, and glad things are going well for you, Joe! Good to hear from you again! Re: “It’s A Wonderful Life”: you gotta tap the sap to get the syrup! ;-]

    Posted by fpdorchak | December 26, 2014, 3:54 PM
  5. I wondered when we were going to hear from you again, Joe. Happy holidays! (We are at the grumpy and disgruntled stage, but we had a great time as far as it went.) Can’t wait to see your new developments.

    Posted by shadowoperator | December 26, 2014, 6:18 PM
  6. This is the first year in memory that I did not see at least a snippet of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I also did not listen to radio stations playing 24 hrs of Christmas music, and at home I only succumbed to my Frank Sinatra Christmas album. The only Christmas movie I watched was “The Family Stone,” which has grown on me and become a favorite; however, I did miss seeing “Love Actually” if for no other reason than getting a good cry in when the guy shows up at Kira Knightly’s door with the signs to tell her how much he loves her.

    I wish I were immune, but alas no.

    And now you have me thinking about my audiobook choice over this holiday, Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, where the author reads her personal experience of having a stillborn baby. An odd choice during a holiday built on the premise of a baby in a manger and eternal life, maybe, but it was so beautifully real I’m listening to it again.

    Posted by Teri | December 30, 2014, 6:19 PM
    • I suppose we’re all a little sentimental sometimes (even me). I have some old recordings of Christmas music by the London Symphony Orchestra and Choir that I bring out every year. I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but somehow these songs get to me every time. Maybe it’s the traditions I was raised with, and a feeling that those times are gone.

      Posted by Joe Ponepinto | December 30, 2014, 8:41 PM

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