Friday, December 6, 2013

Reinventing Christmas

As I prepare for the coming Christmas holidays, I find myself not only thinking forward to how I’ll celebrate this Christmas, but also looking back to Christmases past. Christmas was a big deal in our house when I was growing up. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and relive a Christmas past. I can close my eyes and remember the sounds of Christmas carols and laughter and six conversations going on at the same time as family gathered. I can smell the sweet aromas—the pine tree, gingerbread cookies and still-warm pies. I see the live tree covered in lights—not those little bitty lights we use now—big honking lights that glowed bright. I can feel the anticipation and excitement, the warmth of being with family.

There’s a saying: You can’t go home again. We writers often, whether consciously or unconsciously, incorporate our own memories and desires into our writing, along with those 'what if' questions that pull us into and through our stories. What if we did go home expecting the Christmas we knew and everything had changed? Relationships weren’t the same. The once-homebaked goodies were now store-bought. The artificial tree was outfitted with new miniature lights. The same spirit of anticipation and excitement is lost.

(Photograph property of Linda Rettstatt)

Well, we all grow up and things do change. But Christmas is that magical time when we all become children again, at least on the inside. In Reinventing Christmas, M.J. Rich retreats to her family home for the holidays, needing comfort and the joy she knew as a child. Sidelined at the Philadelphia airport by a blizzard, she ends up sharing the last available rental car with Brady Cameron, a stranger who’s headed across the state as well, but with a very different Christmas plan in mind. While stuck in a deserted mountain cabin half-way between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, M.J. learns that Brady plans to spend Christmas alone. So she invites him to experience the perfect holiday with her family.

Except everything has changed and M.J. never got the memo. There’s only one thing to do—reinvent Christmas.

The coming weeks will hold their share of busy-ness. But take some time to remember your best Christmas ever. Pick up a Christmas book or two to get yourself into the spirit of the season. Take some time to reflect on what’s most important for you during Christmas and recapture your child-like wonder. If this Christmas isn’t shaping up to be what you hope for—reinvent it.

* I'll be taking a little break from The Writer's Vineyard for a few months to focus on some writing projects, but I'll be back with you in the spring.

Linda Rettstatt


Big Mike said...

Funny how even in our sixties we can remember our Christmas mornings as a child. Now I relive by watching my grand daughter celebrate hers.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Nikki said...

A really good read, too!

Linda Rettstatt said...

Mike, Those memories always come to mind in my work this time of year. My agency does an Angel Tree for kids and I love knowing so many kids will have that excited smile on their faces on Christmas morning.

Linda Rettstatt said...

Awe, thanks, Nikki. It was a fun book to write.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

We'll miss you here, but you left in a blaze (lights) of Glory.


Linda Rettstatt said...

Thanks, Julie. I'll be back in April or May.