On my second day of book signings for Dark Sky at Dawn, book one of my historical fiction series, Free Men and Dreamers, a potential reader posed this question to me before deciding to buy the book. "You promise not to die before you finish the series?"
I told him I certainly wasn't planning to. . . Of course, I reacted to the question in the jovial spirit in which it was intended, but I can't say the question never replayed in my mind each time I turned a manuscript in.
It's funny . . .the things that mark time. One of the annual time-markers for me is the re-packing of the Christmas ornaments. Engrossed in reminiscences of Christmases past while I unpack them, I am equally invested in introspective thoughts while putting each whimsical and cherished item away.
I've always considered the collection of boxes to be like time capsules--with new ornaments marking the arrival of each child, each new bride or groom, or exciting milestones in schooling, hobbies and careers.
But each time I put the beloved but odd collection--a mix of macaroni and paper plate wreaths and Studio 56 blown glass treasures--I wonder about the whats, the whos and hows of the coming year. Perhaps you've asked yourself similar questions that begin something like this:
When I next open this box. . .
* will all my loved ones be healthy?
* will any new members be joining our family?
* will anyone we love have passed away?
* will we be in a state of joy or worry?
* will we have work?
* will the world be a better or more worrisome place?
Through our own choices, we determine some of these answers, and we choose how we will react to the rest. After all, being happy, despite our circumstances is ultimately, a choice.
So as I packed up the outdoor lights and removed the garland from the front door, I pondered December 2009, and I asked myself these questions. Perhaps you did too.
Those of us over forty can always look back at what appeared to be "better days", but these days form the backdrop of our children's and grandchildren's childhoods. That is reason enough to make me want to open those boxes dozens more times with a positive outlook and joy for the world. I want to do the little things that make the world wonderful every moment I can--simple things like smiling more, saying "I love you" more, really listening and offering a hand more than advice.
Christmas is finally all put away, replaced by a string of heart lights and other Valentine-style regalia. That is except for my husband's old wooden sled, draped in lights and a big, red bow, perched expectantly on our front porch, awaiting the promise of a good, winter snow.
Promise. . . That's really what it's all about anyway, isn't it?