Friday, November 19, 2010

Black Friday Looms--Plan Now

On my theology blog, I wrote a post about preparing for the holiday season now, a week before the biggest shopping day of the year. Many of the suggestions are applicable to the non-theologically inclined. After all, it's not solely religious people who end up irritable and frazzled by the end of December.

This week-end makes a good time to think about our holiday shopping. Maybe we want to be brave and think about how much gift giving/receiving we really need to do. A few years ago, my family members all agreed to donate to one charity that we all selected, and we've continued to do that.

One year, before our charitable giving initiative, my family experimented. We said that we would give gifts under $10 or gifts that were handmade. It seems to me that poetry is the quintessential art for this experiment. Most of us have a huge supply of poems and some access to either technology or art supplies. Why not select a poem for each family member? Make a broadside or a video. Import some illustrations. Take some photos that go with the poem. Or write poems specifically for the people on your gift list.

Even if we can avoid the holiday gift giving frenzy, there are other times of the year where we find ourselves giving presents: birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and all the rest. We might think about how our gift giving dollars can support poetry.

I plan to write a blog post about my favorite books of poems that were published in 2o10, but I might not get that list together before next Friday's shopping frenzy begins. So I thought I'd point you to some of my posts from last year.

--If you want to give books with a spine for the holidays, this post offers suggestions with a brief description.

--If you want to give chapbooks (perfect for people who aren't sure they even like poetry), this post offers suggestions with brief descriptions.

--This post explores other ways to give gifts that also support poetry (a subscription to a journal, for example).

Many of us find ourselves exhausted several pounds heavier in January, with more credit card debt and more regrets. Let's vow to make this year different. Let's look for holiday strategies that can nourish us as poets and enrich our creative communities. Instead of a heavy holiday meal, let's have a poetry potluck. Instead of baking cookies for everyone on our list, let's invite our friends over to bake together. Instead of giving stuff, let's give experiences (a date for lunch or a museum or a movie--in February, when we need a treat). Instead of a huge party, why not a do-it-yourself writing retreat of an afternoon or evening where our friends gather for a shared bottle of wine (or hot cider or cocoa or sparkling water) and some writing prompts.

Now is the time to strategize.

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