Christmas is here! Shopping over until tomorrow for all the after holiday deals. I love this day… the wonder in small children’s eyes, the older folks watching the kids tear open their gifts from Santa, the teenager trying hard to be unimpressed, the college kids thankful for the new computer or the cash, and then the parents who made all of this happen. Usually family is a very complicated thing – keeping your mouth shut on those occasions when you really would like to put someone in their place but it would only hurt you, trying desperately to give confidence to someone who has hit rock bottom, and wishing a special someone could see themselves through your eyes because then they would see how special they are. But Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior and we should try to be more like him everyday. So we will honor our elders, we will hold small children a little longer, we will be kinder to others and we will treat ourselves better.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Pere Noel or Santa has completed their night long journey and is back at the North Pole resting until next year. But things in Louisiana will hold the memories of this Christmas for a while but something special is coming…stay tuned.
Two days before Christmas, crunch time for most. My family is celebrating in mid to late January. A time when we can all be together. We know the reason for the season is the baby Jesus but we celebrate his birthday every day at our house. So celebrating when we can all be together is not a problem. The little ones just get more presents at two different times. They don’t mind. I hope you and yours have a special day where you concentrate on each other and put away the smart phones and computers. Perhaps watch some Christmas parades and possibly some football and argue about the calls and the scores. But most of all I hope you are surrounded by those you love and that love you. Hold dear to these times there will be moments when you reflect on the memories and wish you had said I love you or I cherish you. Don’t let these times go by without saying how you feel!!
Lily’s Lagniappe: I can remember as a kid that we used to drive around the city looking at lights. In New Orleans, Al Copeland, the owner Popeye’s Fried Chicken, has major display at his house. Make this kind of activity a tradition. Your kids will remember this forever and do it with their kids.
Four days to Christmas.. The shoppers are cramming every little bit of shopping into the limited time available. It’s manic time. Frenzied, wild-eyed beasts lurk around every corner, searching for the right color and size. RELAX!!! The person would probably prefer a gift card.
What about your characters? Gift card? Personal gift? No gift? No family celebration? Love to have family near them? A loner during the holidays? If you don’t know the answers to these questions you must find the answers. They tell us a great deal about the character’s core.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Shrimpers and fishermen decorate their boats and have a Christmas Eve parade on the water. If you haven’t ever seen a floating Christmas parade you have really missed out. On most lakes in Louisiana there is a parade of the boats; it’s lovely and small children love it.
Well, six days till Christmas. The crowds are getting more frantic and the commercials are television are ramped up so that every child is still adding to their list. The grocery stores are busier than usual because the feasts are being planned. I still see young mothers shopping for the ingredients for the special cookies for Santa; but don’t forget the reindeer. Carrots or grain is always nice. The reindeer need their energy to make that one night trek around the globe.
I know the little ones in my family are looking forward to the night. Anticipating the visit is almost as exciting as the following morning. Anticipation is a true guide to how you deal with life. Some folks wait for impending doom, others wait for the light at dawn, others still have no idea whether to be anxious or excited; characters in your novels have the same feelings. Explore how your character waits for events in their life.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Small children everywhere are getting excited about Pere Noel, Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or Babbo Natale. If you don’t have the Cajun Night Before Christmas please purchase a copy. It is a lovely read written and illustrated by James Rice.
Eight days till Christmas. I’m working on finishing a middle grade novel with the working title Basketball Ballerina. My main character is in conflict dealing with family issues and school issues. Being torn between two worlds, one place she needs to be more grown up and the other place she just needs to be her age. The emotional impact is so stressful. How will she deal with it? How would you deal with it? I’m not sure at that age I would have dealt with it very well. I’m working a variety of scenarios. None of which I’m really happy with but it will come. She, the main character, will lead me to the right conflict. I have to be patient because good things come to those who wait.
Lily’s Lagniappe: The desserts in Louisiana at this time are amazing. Pound cakes, coconut cakes, red velvet cakes, enormous varieties of pies but pecan being prevalent, Ambrosia, fruit pizzas, family traditions of bread pudding with praline sauce or bread pudding with rum sauce, these and many more are sold and made during this time.
Exactly ten days to Christmas. The rush of shoppers trying to find that last great gift, Moms and Dads buying the latest want from one of their children, Grandparents getting long awaited hugs, your work family seems a little more jolly, even your boss seems happier and you feel melancholy. The Christmas blues are real for a number of people. Does your main character have a reason to hate the holidays? To love the holidays? People bury themselves into books so they won’t be disappointed. The only time some characters are alive is during the holidays while others can’t wait until they are over. I hope your characters direct your thinking about their wants and needs through the plot conflicts you have given them.
Lily’s Lagniappe: One of the best things firemen and Coke Distributors in and around the Baton Rouge/Denham Springs area is they ride Santa down the streets so that children in need or handicapped children can get visit from Santa. Warms my heart to know men/women who are heroes already give their time and off hours again in service of others. I’m sure other Fire Depts do the same thing but I’m only familiar with the ones in Louisiana.
There are exactly twelve days to Christmas. The streets are flooded with shoppers after that last present. Mothers and grandmothers are grocery shopping for the last few things needed for their Christmas feasts. The hustle and bustle of this time of year reminds me of the period of time right before a big hurricane hits. Being raised in southern Louisiana, June to November every year was hurricane season. We were perpetually prepared for a hurricane to hit. Water, can food, bread, milk, crackers, anything to munch on for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a couple of days or a week.
I really never thought about this process much because it was what I knew. It was my norm. I’ve never been around a tornado like the ones the folks in the midwest experience. They scare the bejesus out of me. I’ve never been around a blizzard like the folks in the north experience. I truly hate the cold and know I could never live through a winter like that.
It made me start to think about the characters that are in my manuscripts. Do they like cold or hot weather? Are they southern dwellers or northern dwellers? How would they react in a weather phenomenon? Would they cower or take charge? These questions and others like them can provide insight to your characters and their traits.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Louisianians create unique ways to celebrate and party. Most of the natives in the beginning of our state were from Europe or French Canadians. These folks on both sides of the pond know how to celebrate. Most of them were Roman Catholic so the story of Mary and Joseph was very prevalent. It still is to this day; but the bonfires on the levee, the parades where treats are thrown to the parade viewers, and the unique pastries of the area make this time of year special.
It’s fourteen days to Christmas. Not one gift under my tree. It’s bare. Nothing there. I stopped the other day and thought maybe I should put fake gifts so it wouldn’t look so empty.
I sat down and thought there are families who even on Christmas morning there will be very little under the tree. I’m so blessed. I have everything I need. I want for nothing. It’s so disappointing to wake up on Christmas and get nothing or very little under the tree; especially for small children. So I encourage all of you to support angel trees. These are real children in need. They may live in orphanages, or group homes under no fault of their own. Usually it is clothes, shoes, a few toys, but the joy these gifts will bring will last way beyond Christmas. Every child should have warm clothes and coat during this time of the year.
Be kind, be generous and I promise your good deeds will not go unnoticed or unrewarded. The feeling you get from making someone else happy lasts a very long time.
Lily’s Lagniappe: There are some many family traditions. Louisiana families strive to honor their generations. I’m sure other states honor also but I am only familiar with this state. I treasure the times my cousins and I celebrated on Christmas at my grandparents’ farm. It was something we did. Some families worked together but definitely lived close to one another. I can honestly say that most of my friends visited their grandparents’ houses on special days. We all lived near our grandparents and relatives. We saw each other frequently. I loved that part of my childhood. I still see my cousins as often as possible. I live in another state now but recently after my sister and I lost our mother we’ve made an effort to see our family more often. Please visit and stay in touch. When they are gone I will have no regrets! Will you?
Well, sixteen days until Christmas. I haven’t shopped at the mall at all. Why? I don’t know what I need to get for anyone! I love this time of year though. I find folks nicer. The shoppers are sweeter, the sales staff are sweeter because they need the totals, even the lines at Santa’s chair seem nicer. I always love watching new babies and older babies sitting on his lap with wide-eyed hope that they will get everything they want. They won’t! Some families can’t afford a large Christmas.
Your characters will be disappointed about things also. You know these feelings. Show me how you felt don’t tell me. Your entire body feels the disappointment. Show your readers the feelings on every spot of your body. Sweating, tears forming, skin itching, goosebumps in areas you’ve never had goosebumps before, and the sinking feeling of discourse or depression setting in.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Being a Louisianian, I am very proud of them going to the polls during the Christmas season to vote their conscious. I am thankful I live in a country where voting is a right for all citizens!!!
Well, eighteen days to Christmas but more importantly it is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The harbor on Oahu had the majority of the American fleet in. Japan sent their Kamikaze pilots to attack our fleet. Many a soldier lost their life that day and it has been honored every year since. I must confess I have visited Pearl Harbor every time I’ve gone to Hawaii. There was one trip where a group of teenagers from Japan were listening to the tour on headphones in their own language. They came to the part of the memorial where it is over the Arizona. They started giggling and laughing. This memorial is maintained by the Navy. The tour group was escorted off the memorial and told to leave. Harsh? Hell no!!! If I went to Japan and disrespected one of their shrines I would be asked to leave. We have got to stop being politically correct when we dishonor our past. History is a fact. Live with it. Because of our past we have made changes to the ways we deal with others and with our laws. We are still a young country and learning. But we have a great country and the rest of the world is watching.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Yesterday the state of Louisiana had a monumental vote for senator. Mary Landrieu lost her seat to a fellow named Cassidy. If he doesn’t perform he will only get one term. The folks in Louisiana are tired of being disappointed.