Today is Boxing Day, the 26th of December, and the day after Christmas. The day when everyone is supposed to rush out and buy more stuff. The same stuff they were supposed to buy as Christmas gifts, only on sale now. The same stuff they were supposed to buy on Black Friday.
There was a time when I would awaken very early when it was still dark and very cold to rush to different stores where I could score huge discounts on Christmas wrappings and decorations to use the following year. I had a penchant for plaid wrapping paper, always too expensive and hard to find. It was part bargain hunting, but mostly sport, done with daughters and friends.
We’re all ready for our new Christmas Eve tradition tailored after the Icelandic Happy Jolabokafod, the Yule celebration that centers on a generous exchange of books. Treats accompany the gentle celebration that sends everyone off to a cozy bed to read their new books.
He chose the latest John Grisham and I picked the most recent Susan Isaacs novel. These are books by authors whose writing suits the simple elegance of this book feast.
How does a book lover celebrate Christmas? Writers typically avoid crowds, with the exception of an occasional writers’ conference, which can take months to recover from. Noise and throngs of people with dazed expressions filling malls are akin to fingernails on a blackboard. The earworm, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (and there are far worse), can implant an impossible case of writers’ block excisable only by a merciful turn of the calendar to a new year.
Michele My recent trip to Ireland taught me that what happened to my great-grandparents is far more relevant than I realized. It almost seems to me if there is a cumulative DNA factor that continues from generation to generation. (I’ve since learned from Alexia about “epigenetics.” It’s a good thing there’s a doctor in the Miss Demeanors’ house.)
I arrived early at the Cobh Heritage Center, eager to meet Christy Keating, the resident genealogist, but oddly nervous. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I knew this was my last chance to connect to my grandmother’s ancestors. Nanna had been my rock as a child, the person who I now realize is largely responsible for who I am today.
I left Cloonbulban, Ireland filled with emotions that surprised me. I hadn’t expected to feel the strong connection to my paternal grandmother that materialized when I stood on the soil she had once toiled.
We began traversing Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the Celtic version of the wild, wild west, in Kinsale after being brushed by Lorenzo, a rare hurricane that felt more like a familiar Nor’easter to two Massachusetts coastal residents. The Wild Atlantic Way felt magnificently large and bold, while also vaguely familiar. Wild waves splashed on enormous rock formations against a canvas of rugged mountains and placid pastures dotted with sheep and cows. With no agenda, my husband drove us into a maze of quiet contentment. We stayed in Dingle and Doolin, sailed to the Aran Islands, drank Guinness and ate fish ‘n chips. We discovered sticky pudding and vowed to test it wherever it appeared on a menu.
Anyone who follows me on social media could not possibly have escaped that I recently spent two weeks in Ireland. At the risk of making you all dive under the covers screaming, “Enough,” I plan to spend this week blogging about the stories stirring within us and their sources. Writers are frequently asked where they get their stories. Author Hallie Ephron is particularly adept at pointing to the source of her latest book (Careful What You Wish For), which has to do with a couple on different sides of the Marie Kondo wave. Another came from a house where she went to a yard sale.
I’ve been spending my annual week in Truro, mostly on the sweetest porch on the planet. At least that’s my opinion. I wanted to invite my fellow Miss Demeanors to join in on the fun. So the question of the week is: