I have gift giving on my mind.
I have bought nothing yet. No cards, no wrapping paper. Not even a bag of chocolate money, which is one of my favourite treats of the year!
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. It’s just that… well, my homage poem to William Carlos Williams explains it best. I grew up in the northern hemisphere – where even if it didn’t always snow, chestnuts roasting and Jack Frost nipping were never out of place. But now I live in the southern hemisphere. Sun hat and sun- glasses weather and newborn lambs bounding in green fields don’t shout Christmas to me. Turkey and twenty-eight degrees centigrade aren’t the best partners.
Shopping is always a marathon affair for me nowadays too. Besides being a bit over excessive consumerism, the tendency of my joints to dislocate makes wandering around shops for hours on end looking for the perfect gifts a physical nightmare. To be fair, even if I could walk around for hours, I still hate going shopping. I like walking in the hills and fields or on the beach, not pounding the polished tiles of a shopping mall.
I don’t mind. I’ll save my energy for spending time with the family. Instead, I was thinking about the sort of gifts that don’t come in boxes or bags from retail outlets. The sort of gifts that are more about life experiences and opportunities than material ownership. Like a family trip to the… oops, no, better not say here, they read my blog! My favourite kinds of gifts are ones that people can engage with at an intrinsic, emotional level.
Just as I was thinking this, an unexpected gift pinged into my email inbox, making me smile from ear to ear. It was from my friend in Scotland, saying she nominated me for the 2018 Liebster blogging award. Such well-timed proof of what makes good gifts. Sometimes the best gifts are the simplest – a sign of appreciation, something that lifts the heart.
Incidentally, lifting the heart is exactly what my friend does on her excellent blog, Despite Pain. It’s an encouraging, positive-thinking approach to living with chronic pain conditions.
The purpose of the Liebster award is to connect newer bloggers with a wider audience. Each nominee has a set of tasks to complete, like the twelve labours of Hercules. (Those stories were my favourite thing about high-school literature classes.) OK, I don’t have to slay any nine-headed hydras, but I do have to come up with some creative, interesting questions for my nominees, so that could be almost as challenging.
1: Write about what makes you passionate about blogging.
Words. Writing. I love writing, painting pictures with words. I’ve been writing since I was three and figured out black squiggles on paper actually meant something. Nobody else knew what mine said back then, but I knew what the story was. Now I write poems, short stories, blog posts, daft emails to dafter friends, novels, reviews, tweets etc. What I like most about fiction and poetry writing is that it allows me to explore and create worlds and experiences I don’t inhabit. What I like most about blog writing is it allows me to explore the world I do inhabit in more depth and create connections with other people through that exploration. Writing about writing helps me hone my craft, and share my knowledge with others. Writing about pain helps me manage my own needs and offer support to others. Writing about social issues allows me to raise my voice about injustices in the world.
2: Share ten random facts about yourself
I’ve scattered them throughout this post. See if you can find them all.
3: Answer questions set by my nominator
It’s five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve – you can call one person to tell them how you think THEIR year went… who will you call and what will you say?
I’d call myself, on a time-machine phone. Myself, the same time last year. And I would say, you know that challenge you set yourself? To get your latest poems publication ready and send them off to a publisher to seek their fortune? You did it (and now I have 13 days, 2 hours and 45 minutes to make it true. Plenty of time, no sweat!).
An alien from an unknown planet comes to your house and ask for directions to the most beautiful place on earth. Where will you send him/her/it?
I’d say it had already found the way itself – can’t beat New Zealand!
If you were a season, which season would you be?
I’d make up a new season. A hybrid of spring and summer – a perfect 23 degrees, with an occasional wisp of breeze to keep the air fresh, and rainfall only at night.
Hot, spicy, salty or sweet – which seasoning would you be?
Spicy – so much variety and opportunity!
Think ahead 10 years. Will you wish you had done more with this part of your life? Will you have regrets?
Nope. I do what I can do when I do it. I banned regret from my life a few years ago. I’m not going to regret what I did/didn’t do, I’ll just own it, look at what went wrong, and how to make it right in the future.
That alien has come back… he wants to learn more about [people’s] feelings and behaviour. In no more than thirty words, how would you describe us?
I’d give the alien a dictionary of emotions, and take it out to people-watch.
You’re a fly on the wall. Whose wall?
The Great Wall of China – I’d love to go there. And if that means being a fly, then OK!
Do you have a cure for hiccups?…
My aunt. Once she promised she’d give me 10pence (that was a good rate when I was a kid) for every hiccup – and they stopped straight away!
What music would you play on a long drive? Or would you rather have silence?
Depends. If we’re on a road trip, and meandering along windy back roads, or through amazing countryside, I’d rather no music because it’s nicer to chat and drink in the views. On a boring, concrete jungle of motorway and high barriers, it’s got to be old rock classics.
The alien… Says that his planet only has happiness and harmony. Invites you and your immediate family on a one way trip to his planet. Would you go?
I love travel adventures! I’d have to negotiate the one way aspect though. One way makes it sound more like a trap than an invitation.
4: Nominate some other blogs for the Liebster award.
Hate cruelty to animals?
Voice for the Voiceless
news on past and forthcoming novels
and some great poems.
Mind over Latte
Mediterranean Love Affair
short fantasy pieces
5: Create 11 questions for my nominees
If you had to come up with new collective nouns for some animals, what would they be?
If a dolphin had a conversation with a fox, what would they say?
Which is most important – rational thought or emotion?
Imagine you could influence a historical event in some way. What would you do?
What advice would you give to a youngster experiencing their first broken heart?
What would be in your room 101 and how would you overcome the fear?
What makes your heart sing?
What would make you protest-march?
What’s something all your friends love but you think is over-rated?
What’s the best present you’ve ever received?
Fantasy dinner party for 12. Who are the guests (dead, alive or imaginary)?
And that’s it. Job done. I’m crossing my fingers until 31st December, but meanwhile, I’m off to book that family trip – and I’m still not saying where. Maybe in the next post.
Happy Christmas, everyone.