20 days until Christmas…

I have to say, committing to write everyday until Christmas is taking a lot of time and energy, but I’m enjoying it. This blogging idea started out as a fun way to share my funny photo finds of crazy Christmas yard decor, but turned into more than that, I wanted to document the process of what an upside-down Christmas looks like for me and my family.  These blogs are a bit more wordy than I had anticipated, but it they do tell the story, and in great detail.

The idea to write everyday was inspired by several people.  Hank Stuever, for the way he can write about something controversial, yet word it to not be offensive, while painting a picture of the truth.  The book Tinsel really has to make a person evaluate how they do Christmas.  My assesment?  If this book doesn’t give you some food for thought, then you need to find something that does.  Allison Harrell, for her amazing writing skills.  I will never type as fast as her (she has a letter jacket for typing), but I want to enhance my communication skills.  Writing is not an easy thing for me like it is for her, or easy like photography, graphic design or altered art, but I do enjoy it with a sick kind of love / hate relationship.  Another person is Jackson Robinson.  He has committed to doing a painting everyday and he blogs it.  These tiny masterpieces are painted by him every morning and look like they should be hanging in a gallery.  Unbelieveable detail!  And Robert Leahey, who took on a challenge to write a novel in one month, and successfully accomplished his mission.

Words are my friend.  I feel better after journaling pages of handwritten words, I love doing typography art and my opinionated side loves to share my views with words.  Even with all of those positive word attributes, words are also my enemy.  I struggle to find them, I have a difficult time articulating them and my brain thinks in pictures, not words.

Turning Christmas upside-down has been a wonderful experience so far, but it came with some unexpected returns, deep feelings and a better understanding of my life and the way I live it.  An experience of which I hope to put into words.  Besides taking the money I would have spent on gifts for people and giving it to great causes, I still want to give something meaningful to my family and friends for Christmas.  Something that is an expression of how I feel about them and something that inspires their creativity.  I came up with the perfect thing, but I’m still in the creation process.  It’s my little Christmas secret.  I guess you’ll have to keep coming back and reading to find out what it is, or wait until you get one.

I guess I must really love words because I’m a book junkie.  I have five bookcases in my house filled with books, an no, I didn’t pay full price for any of them.  Over the years I have made several trips to Gladewater and there’s a small mom and pop type bookstore I’ve always wanted to visit.  Most of the time I was there on Sunday and the bookstore was closed.  Friday, it was open.  I like buying books that have had previous owners, not only to save money, but for the chance of finding a book with a personal note in it, handwritten sentiments to someone I don’t even know.  It’s like getting two stories in one, the story in the book and the found mysterious story.  I love creating the rest of their story and incorporating it into my own.

As I was shopping in there for gifts for some of my close friends, I realized the books didn’t have any prices on them.  I brought a stack to the front and asked where I could find the prices.  The man at the counter said, “I’ll look them up, tell you the prices, then you can argue with me.”  I immediately took a liking to him.  I shopped a little longer, taking in the pleasing scent of old books, then finally made my way to the counter to argue with Pete.  Pete and I talked for a long time about books, photography, art, Bible translations and people.  I was telling him I could never work there because I would want to take everything home.  He said I was too interesting to work there.  That made me smile, as I like the word interesting more than quirky or weird.

Toward the end of our conversation, Pete was looking up a few books for me.  I asked, “What did we ever do before Wikipedia and Google?”  He replied, “We argued.”  Now I’m really liking this guy.  Pete, being of a slightly older generation than myself, and from what I could tell, progressively embracing the electronics age, I had to ask.  “So, are you on Facebook?”  Unfortunately he is not there… yet.  He’s about to purchase a new digital camera and wanted some tips so I gave him my email address.  He said, “I’m going to contact you and ask you camera questions.  I guess you could just ignore my emails if you don’t want me bugging you.”  I replied, “Nah, you’re too interesting to ignore.”

I gathered my new-old books, and headed for the car.  Pete told me about an abandoned church right up the road, so of course, I had to stop there before heading home to Frisco.  Words… books… what does any of this have to do with deep feelings and understanding life?  I’ll tell you.

Shopping, or as I prefer to call it, treasure hunting for meaningful books made me think a lot more about the relationships in my life.  Not just my friends and family, but in a deeper sense, people that are close to me, people that are acquaintances and people that I don’t even know.  I’m not one of those crying, emotional types, as a matter of fact, I missed that line when God was passing out those genes.  My face leaks about once a year, just to clean out the cobwebs in my tear ducts.  I don’t express emotion through tears, I do it through art.  Words are an art form, one I am learning, just like learning to have more meaningful relationships in my life.  I have a deeper appreciation of the people I know, an admiration of their uniqueness and an understanding of what an important role that plays in all of our lives.

I don’t know if it was the death of my cousin or searching for meaningful gifts, or maybe it’s just the loneliness of the holiday season, but I have experienced some life change.  It’s a feeling I have never felt before and one that I cannot put into words.  I have a desire to live differently.  This isn’t a passing thing, I have acted on it and am reordering my life around it.

The icons of Christmas that started this writing adventure are not the plastic Santa statues or the many strands of mismatched colored lights.  The icons of Christmas are people, from the impoverished guy on the street corner with his ‘need help’ sign to my closest family and friends.  The most important Christmas icon of all is Jesus, and I don’t mean the plastic one.  The eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus that was born on December 25th.

Words to sum this up?  If you are planning on turning Christmas upside-down, you better put on your seatbelt.  It will turn your life upside-down.

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About jody wissing

I'm a person just trying to matter in a crazy world. View all posts by jody wissing

4 responses to “20 days until Christmas…

  • Diane

    Jody you are a great writer and I enjoyed reading every word … you are a woman of many talents and it is so crazy that you would be friends with someone like me who has zero talents.

  • Jackson Robinson

    First of all Jody, I appreciate your kind words. I find that words are the most potent form of encouragement.

    I applaud your commitment to write everyday until Christmas & I will share with you my “secret”. Most of you reading this will probably glaze over this and file it away lackadaisically in your cerebrum as something good to write on a post-it note, but nothing that could really change your life. Jody, and for those you who have made it this far down my response, my “secret” is the number 5. The number 5 is an incredibly powerful thing. The number 5 has enough power to completely change your life. When I say the number 5 I mean 5am. This is the point in the response at which you, the reader, says “that’s it? Ok where do I delete the post-it note of information?” For me and my commitment of painting a painting EVERY day, the number 5 has been the absolute crux of my success. You may say to yourself, when reflecting on your own commitment, “I don’t have the time.” The reality of the number 5 is that you are the only person up that early, so you have nothing but time. You have at least a good two hours before anybody else in your house gets up. You can get more done in those two hours than you can get done the entire day. Those hours, those minutes have become intoxicating to me. It is such a great feeling to think to myself “Self, I think I’m going to paint a rock today.” The subject matter is not important in my paintings, what is important is that I can think of an idea a KNOW that this time tomorrow I will have a painting of a rock drying on the rack.

    Think of your writing as simply words. Don’t worry about making every paragraph this Pulitzer prize winning material. You committed to writing not to write to win an award. When the mere act of writing is what you can’t live without then you will write words of quality that will move people, without even thinking about it. Your journey will not take long because your words of turning Christmas upside down are already so incredible.

    PS the magic number for me is slowly creeping back. I find my head popping off my pillow at 4:30 and can’t go back to sleep because my palette is just up stairs.

  • sterrell

    Never doubt you writing is good. I like what Jackson Robinson said about not trying to win an award. Your commitment to writing till this Christmas has INSPIRED me to start writing again! Although I am not a great writer and I too have a hard time articulating my thoughts into words and will even at times spend too much time trying to find just the right words….it is my passion. A passion that I have put on a dusty old bookshelf that you seemed to have found in Gladewater. It amazed me the responses I got back from people about my last post. I shake my head at comments of “you are a good writer” because I just see it as a bunch of jumbled words expressing my thoughts.

    Keep writing! I am enjoying them and am finding myself looking forward to hearing what you have to say. And again don’t worry about saying it just right, you are perfect in your imperfection. 🙂

    Thanks for inspiring me! I can’t wait to write again. Maybe we should take a writing class together sometime!

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