Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cherishing the Unexpected Gift of Words

by Susan

I can never remember actually believing in Santa Claus. Sure it was a fun game, but even at the age of four I knew there was no way a big man with a sack of toys was going to come through our fake fireplace. And while I liked the extra gifts, they all came wrapped in the same paper as the ones from Mom and Dad, and all the tags were in her handwriting.

Plus, we all gave gifts to each other, which with nine kids and one set of parents, adds up to one gigantic pile of presents. The "Santa" gifts weren't even the icing on the cake; they were a curlicue on the icing on the cake.

I was probably young enough to still (theoretically) believe in Santa when I became irritated at a school Christmas program. The eighth graders performed a skit where Santa brought every single present for the kids. Every. Single. One.

That's not how it works!

Gifts come from SOMEONE.

They do NOT magically drop from the sky.

There is NO Santa Claus!

I'm reconsidering that last sentence these days.

Maybe there's no red-suited dude fighting polar bears for the last floating bit of ice at the rapidly warming North Pole. But I can look at my life and see gifts dropped on my head that I didn't ask for, didn't deserve, and didn't reciprocate.

Most notably: I was given the gift of words. I'm not trying to claim brilliance, here. What I mean is that I was given the gift of wanting to work with words. I was given the gift of an appetite for reading, for devouring books, for escaping into worlds built by others and bringing back pieces with which to build my own. I was blessed to find a small audience to share them with.

Those of us who are writers have been given this gift, and it is an incredibly precious one. I have written things, imperfect as they were, that have made people laugh and other things that have made them cry. I cannot begin to tell you what that means to me. Stories unite us as humans.

I can see where the people around me added to the pile of gifts around this one. I remember the many stories my siblings read to me. I remember how in the house I was raised, there was something to read by every chair. I've been blessed with good libraries. Fellow writers encouraged me.

Still, on some level, I feel like this was dropped on my head, like a present from Santa. The work I've done, the support I've had from others has added to it, but this one gift just arrived from the universe somehow, and I didn't do a thing to deserve it.

When you write, you might believe your gift of words came from God, or the universe, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for all I know. You can even believe it came from Santa Claus, if you'd like. It doesn't matter.

It's a gift we get to open every time we grab our pens and open our notebooks. It's new and different every time. Could it get any better?

With that, have a blessed and peaceful holiday season, however you might celebrate it.


  1. Susan, What a great post. We give away words, receive words from unlikely spots, watch children learn new words and phrases not always combined the right way,and watch adults be introduced to new concepts and words that surprise them. I also like the flowered couch, the hardwood floor (I have three in my farm house with two having been made by my dad.), and maybe mostly that I can feel how you wanted to play with your gifts instead of look at the camera. As writers, we should choose our words wisely. Myra Peak

    1. Thanks, Myra. That hardwood floor was the only one in the house. About once a year, Mom would wax it, then have my brother (the one who gave me the skunk) put on our socks and slide across it back and forth to buff it. We had a blast, and the floor looked nice afterward.

      Thanks again for the kind words. :)

  2. Very nice, Susan, and appropriate this time of year. Yes we are sometimes also cursed with this gift when the words and stories don't come. And then Santa comes down the chimney, he's gone on a diet, and there's a story or poem all wrapped in shiny paper with a big bow on it. Takes some time to untie the bow, but it is a wonderful gift. Thanks for reminding me of this gift.

    1. Art, it's hard for me to think of you having to wait for Santa for the words -- they're always so lovely when you gift them to the rest of us.

    2. You are much too kind, Ms Santa. The damned things are always either hidden so I can't find them or wrapped so tightly that it takes some time to fine and get them out. ;-)

  3. You're so right, a love of words is an amazing gift that I enjoy daily. Reading and writing are both so much fun! And I grew up with an almost identical flowered couch, by the way. I usually had piles of books next to me too! I still do, much to my husband's chagrin after he bought me a Kindle hoping to eliminate them.

    1. She who dies with the most books WINS! BWAHAHAHA!

      So glad you enjoy the gift of words. I've enjoyed the gift of your words on many an occasion. :)

  4. I love this post, Susan; succinct, moving, just the right touch of nostalgia-- and photographs, which makes it just a little better (even if we are word persons). Thank you.


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