This past Friday I finished a first draft of the latest short story for my collection-in-progress, and wrapped work at my day job prior to a two week vacation. I gave myself permission to take a break after a busy last few months, but here I am compelled to write another blog post, the last of 2015 as I won’t–for sure this time–be posting next week. I guess I felt moved to share my take on the holidays, and again reflect–as I did around Thanksgiving–on all I have to be grateful for. So, here’s my latest list of holiday gratitude, 1-4 in no particular order, and rest assured I’ve checked it twice!
1. I’m grateful to be a published author: Chief among 2015’s personal highlights was signing the contracts with Booktrope to become a published novelist. I’ve never put much faith in the Law of Attraction–the philosophy that your thoughts manifest your reality–but I will say that from the time back in those grad school days circa 2009 that I began the initial draft of the novel which would become Wings of Wax, I constantly imagined it being published. Each time I sat down to write I envisioned a completed book between covers. Six years later, and my debut novel will be hitting shelves in March, 2016. Maybe the Law of Attraction does work to some degree. This is technically my second book (the first was a collection of short stories published when I was a teenager) but this one feels like the beginning! Maybe I did manifest my reality. In any case, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my writing with readers.
2. I’m grateful for Christmas music. Sure, many tunes are a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but there’s something about the seasonal soundtrack that makes me smile. At their core, most Christmas songs speak of togetherness and possessing a generous spirit. That message is appropriate all year round, and these crisp evenings as I take the dog for a stroll after the day’s work is done, I’ve been listening to Soul and R&B renditions of classic holiday tunes: The Temptations’ rendition of Silent Night, Let It Snow by Boys 2 Men, and This Christmas by Donny Hathaway are all great selections.
3. I’m grateful to be in a position to give. It is better to give than to receive, so goes the old cliche. I’ll say it is wonderful to give and receive. I can give gifts, I can give love, I can give time, all of which bring a smile in return, and what a gift to receive!
4. I’m grateful for a Greek spin on the holidays. Holidays are a time of tradition, of course, and in my family we continue to carry our own. For as long as I can recall we have hosted Christmas dinner. Growing up, when my parents were still together, the days leading up to Christmas were often intense. My Greek-immigrant father would grow moody, to say the least, in response to the rampant commercialization of the holiday, and often decry the Capitalist machine prior to decrying everything else. Opa! 🙂
But, alas, by the time the big day rolled around, things were okay again. Laughter and cheer were present as we opened our house to family and friends, everyone gathering to enjoy a typical Christmas meal of turkey and stuffing, albeit with a Greek twist. Alongside the holiday bird, there was village salad abundant with Feta cheese and Kalamata olives; Greek-style roast potatoes heavy on the lemon, garlic, and oregano; flaky, buttery, tiropita, and we made stuffing from a recipe passed down via my maternal grandfather who was from the island of Mytelini. It calls for chestnuts, figs, olives, bulgar wheat, Greek brandy, and other secret ingredients that make for a savory/sweet delight.
These days, Dad sends shipments of kourabiedes from Greece, and Mom travels up from Monterey to again claim her rightful place in the family home as Christmas preparations commence. We still do the open house party, Greek stuffing and all! There you have it, faithful readers. Rest assured, I’m grateful for you, too! Now to really take my break. May you all have happy, happy holidays abundant with traditions of your own! Καλα Χριστουγεννα και καλες γιορτες! I’ll look forward to seeing you in 2016!