The Castle Herald
Every Picture Tells A Story

Getting a Jump on Christmas 2012


 It’s not even Halloween, but I’m getting a jump on the holiday season. Why? Because this year, my goal is to  get everything done ahead of time so I can concentrate on what really matters at Christmas time. For me, these qualities include sacrifice, goodwill to family and friends, and faith. Instead of last-minute trips to the mall, I prefer to spend my time with my favorite Christmas stories — and to create my own.

Finding inspiration for your own Christmas story

Many authors wrote their own Christmas stories. O. Henry wrote the Gift of the Magi, Louisa May Alcott wrote a Christmas chapter in Little Women, and Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and my personal favorite, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

This Christmas you will write your own Christmas story, whether you know it or not.

Your classic holiday story is told at holiday gatherings and by your family’s memories; it’s illustrated in photos and scrapbooks that will live on through the years. Your story is written by your family’s actions. Together, you determine whether it has a sad or a happy ending.

In the past, I’ve forgotten that I was creating my own Christmas story and felt and acted like Scrooge. But this Christmas, I decided to approach the season like one of the characters in Little Women.

What is the story of Christmas 2011?

When I asked, “what does Christmas mean to me?”, I realized the answer was in my favorite stories, but I also knew that old-fashioned sentiment and the Christmas spirit have caused me a lot of work over the years.

In the Gift of the Magi, a young couple, Della and Jim Dillingham, live in New York during the early 1900’s. Just as in the present day, times are bad. Jim has taken a pay cut and they are struggling to survive on twenty dollars a week. Love makes doing without easier. Two things give them pride: a valuable watch — the only thing that Jim inherited from his father — and Della’s glorious long hair.

Della longs for some expensive combs to wear in her hair, and Jim won’t show his watch at work because he has no watch chain. At Christmas, no matter how they have scrimped and saved, they have no money to buy each other gifts.

In O.Henry’s sentimental story, Della’s love for Jim sends her out to sell her beautiful hair to get the money to buy Jim the watch chain. At the same time, Jim sells his watch to buy combs for Della’s hair.

The message in this is wonderful, and has always influenced how I prepare for the holidays. But the holidays are complicated because I complicate them. I spend too much and I do too much. I stress out.

My assumptions: eliminate the work and stress, and the battle is won. Being reasonable about Christmas means I will celebrate it better. It makes sense for people to keep things uncomplicated, and for them to do the things that make them happy.

A practical way to create personalized Christmas cards — and your family’s story

I pick an easy place to begin being practical: Christmas cards. I love choosing Christmas cards, because they let me picture what the holiday season should be. I can send a physical, cheerful greeting to family and friends I may only see on Facebook the rest of the year.

Thanks to technology, photo Christmas cards are simple to create and easy to afford. I can start with a family picture, then edit the text on both the outside and inside — total creative freedom, something a writer loves!

Photo Christmas cards from

Reading O.Henry and Dickens, it seems that in a time before the Internet, smart phones, and iPads, people had more time to examine their lives and make changes and sacrifices.

Scrooge becomes a new man overnight after seeing what a terrible life he has lived. In The Gift of The Magi, a husband and wife give up their greatest prizes in order to obtain Christmas gifts for the one they love. Those stories echo the earliest Christmas story that tells of faith, gifts, and immortal love.

Once I believed in Christmas miracles; I believed that love caused a man and a woman to sacrifice for each other. And I believed that spirits could come in the night and change a greedy heart. If I  remember these ideals, I can’t go wrong.

This December 25th is my “Christmas Yet to Come”. Getting my photo Christmas cards chosen and printed ahead of time gives me a great result: a unique holiday greeting that tells my family’s story. In later years I’ll hope that it will be said of me, as they said of Ebenezer Scrooge after his encounter with holiday spirits, “he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge”.


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