Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Finding Christmas

Like millions of people I do a lot, if not most, of my holiday shopping online; especially this month when I am spending most of my non-day job time speeding towards the finish of Mother Mayhem, the third book in the Odelia Grey series. I love the convenience of pointing and clicking and having the goodies shipped to me instead of fighting crowds at malls and circling parking lots looking for an open space like a birdwatcher stalking a near extinct species. Amazon, QVC, and gift certificates are my friends.

But last night my gentleman friend enticed me out to dinner with the promise of a much needed relaxing evening. By the way, romantic relationships are another casualty of deadlines, but thankfully my guy pal is very understanding and patient … but I digress. We decided to meet at Harpers, an Italian restaurant at the Century City Mall just a block from my day job. I love this restaurant and if you ever go, order the seafood salad, it’s to die for … but again I digress.

Anyway, I arrived about thirty minutes early so I could pick up something at The Container Store, then still with time on my hands, I sat down on a bench and simply watched the people. In all the rush of my life, I had forgotten how much I enjoy people watching. Most writers are natural people watchers. It’s in our blood and part of our daily need as much as the need to write. We sit in parks, restaurants, airports and on benches in malls observing people and listening for tidbits of choice conversation, all the while taking mental notes for later use in character development.

But last night I observed something else: Christmas is here! It’s here in all its brightly colored lights and poinsettias, shoppers scurrying, and timeless musical favorites played over and over. People bustled about the mall, dashing into stores and emerging with packages. They greeted friends in front of restaurants with hugs and smiles, and squeals of delight, and even in Harpers last night there were two holiday parties in progress. For all its convenience, online shopping can’t provide this kind of heart-warming ambience; not even if ginger-scented candles burn in the background while you type in the numbers of your credit card.

My friend thought he was simply treating me to a nice dinner and relaxing evening. Instead, he pulled my head out of my frantic pace and worry over meeting a deadline while juggling seasonal social demands and gave me Christmas Spirit. What a nice gift.

26 days and counting . Last night I didn’t write a single word and I’m happy with that.

Memo to self: must hang wreath and buy eggnog!

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