All creative people get frustrated when life takes over and leaves them no time to express themselves. For me that feeling is never more acute than at this time of year. I recognize that the Christmas season is actually an outlet for many people’s creativity. By decorating their houses, sending beautiful home-made greeting cards, wrapping gifts, baking, and cooking, they are giving rein to their artistic impulses as well as giving pleasure to others.
I am not one of those people. The honest truth is every year at this time I feel like a corked-up bottle ready to explode. It’s hard enough during the rest of the year to find time to write, but in December with all the social and organizational demands of the holidays – all delightful in themselves but so time-consuming – it’s almost impossible. I get panicky, thinking that a whole month is going by and I’m not making any progress with my book. It doesn’t help that I turn a year older in early December every year so “at my back I always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” (Of course Andrew Marvell was trying to persuade his coy mistress to get frisky before they both grew too old to care. I guess we all feel time’s pressure in different ways.)
I know that what I need to do is take a deep breath and just live for a few short weeks. I need to allow myself to enjoy the taste of Christmas cookies, the smell of pine sap and wood fires, the sight of the beautifully decorated trees in my neighbors’ windows, and the sound of carols sung by high boys’ voices in ancient British cathedrals. And of course I need to spend time with friends and family, time that is balm to my spirit in a different but equally essential way to the time I spend at my desk. My book will still be there on January 1.