“Where is your Christmas spirit?”
“I think maybe you have enough for both of us.”
Gaby shook her head. “That didn’t fly last year either. I’m not saying you have to go nuts. But you could at least get a tree.”
“A tree? That takes more work than most everything else.”
“But it’s fun work,” Gaby insisted.
--The Christmas Project
Wrong holiday? Maybe. But it fits with my theme. I have a theme this month because I had a couple different thoughts, and I’m going to try to tie them all together with this idea of work that is fun. If it seems as though I’m veering into a tangent at some point, just keep thinking fun work and everything will fit.
I was recently reminded of a time when I was about eleven or twelve years old. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to give up for Lent. My mom suggested that I could always give up time by adding something extra. It’s possible I interrupted her reading the church bulletin because I remember she was very quick to point out Stations of the Cross happening on Thursday evenings.
At the time, I had no idea what that was. My mom said it would probably only take about a half hour. Committing to a half hour a week sounded a lot easier than trying to come up with a specific dessert that I might reasonably expect to encounter during Lent but not at any times when it might be difficult to refuse.
We lived right down the street from the church (on a street named Church Street) so it was simple enough to walk there a few Thursdays. I loved it. It was the first time in my young life that I actually found myself looking forward to going to church. I think it was the story aspect that drew me in. Yes, it’s a sad, painful story. But I already knew it had a happy ending. I was born a sucker for happy endings. Then I had a different problem. Since I ended up enjoying the sacrifice, maybe it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. I was afraid it didn’t “count.” Clearly, I was missing the point.
Lenten sacrifices are not supposed to make us miserable. They are supposed to remove distractions to bring us closer to God. There can be joy in that. There should be joy in that. There is nothing wrong or shameful in realizing you don’t miss what you gave up, that what you gained was better. The prayer and fasting and almsgiving that are the hallmarks of Lent can be fun work. There’s my theme.
My job is fun work. I love writing. I love sitting around daydreaming about what might happen next. There are parts I don’t love. Sometimes I let in a little stress over a deadline or frustration over a scene that isn’t coming out as I envisioned. And sometimes I realize it’s already been a month since I posted anything to my blog and because I’ve been doing very little writing recently, I have to stretch really hard to connect what I have been doing to my regular work.
Because we’re enjoying all this fun work of Lent, Easter is right around the corner. We figured out many years ago that a traditional egg hunt is a challenge with kids of different ages. If you hold the older ones back, they complain that the little ones will find all the eggs first. If you don’t hold them back, they snatch up all the eggs before the little ones can find them. I really didn’t like the way it turned into a competition. Breaking up fights over who saw an egg first does not fit under the umbrella of fun work. Plus, it might rain anyway.
Now I hand each kid a plastic egg with a clue inside about where to find the next egg, which will also have a clue and so on with a treat at the end. They’re all looking for different color eggs so no one has to get there first. The kids really enjoy it, and I enjoy putting all the individual hunts together. Creating word puzzles and bad poetry is fun work. It also has a happy ending when I get to watch the kids figure out the clues. However, I’m making twelve hunts for twelve kids this year, about eight or nine eggs each. That amount of work can be time-consuming no matter how fun it is.
This is why my books are sort of on hold. Everything Old releases this week though. Yea! That’s my happy ending. And now I have two themes. This wasn’t random at all.