By Alexa Day
This is supposed to be a joyous time of year.
No matter which winter holiday you call your own, this season is supposed to be marked by generosity and kindness and anticipation and excitement.
Because we’re close, you all and I, I feel I can tell you that this most of this holiday season has fallen short of expectations.
I don’t want to look too hard at current events, but the news lately is filled with non-joyous thoughts.
Honestly, I’m surprised by how many people seem determined to go out of their way to rub their special brand of bullshit over the joyous holiday season. Tough to remember you’re supposed to be happy when you’re faced with current events.
Television is my only oasis. Television and I have big plans between right now and the new year, friends. Right now, while my regular shows are taking some time off, I’ve got the venerable Rankin-Bass Christmas specials to occupy my time. Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius and all the various incarnations of Santa Claus are sometimes the only way I know Christmas is coming.
The Year Without a Santa Claus is one of my favorites. Most of you who remember it know it because of the Miser Brothers, Heat Miser and Snow Miser. But there are a couple of other gems, too. “It’s Gonna Snow Right Here in Dixie” usually sticks in my head for days. “I Could Be Santa Claus,” a number in which Mrs. Claus says she could do her husband’s job, definitely holds new relevance for modern viewers. And I absolutely love the duet, “I Believe in Santa Claus,” in which a young boy’s father explains that one is never too old for Christmas magic.
The gist of the story is simple enough. Sidelined by a cold and reassured by his cynical doctor that no one cares about Christmas anymore, Santa wonders if he can take the year off. Would anyone miss him? Does anyone even believe in Santa anymore?
In the special, Mrs. Claus, two elves, and all the children of the world prove that they can manage the business of Christmas without Santa’s intervention. He can have that year off. And so he spends his holiday a bit out of sorts. The toy shop is quiet. The reindeer are asleep.
He’s well rested, but now he has a new question.
If Christmas isn’t obsolete, is he?
Into this self-doubt, a cute little stop-motion bird delivers a letter. I’m not going to embed it here, but have a look at it over on the YouTube.
Christmas is possible without Santa Claus, it seems. But it is far more pleasant with him.
This isn’t what I came to talk about. I came to suggest a gift for your writer friends.
Your writer friends are probably spending this year reflecting on their successes and making plans to set the world on fire next year. At least, that’s what I hope they’re doing. Some of us are coming to the end of an “interesting” year and wondering if next year will be even more “interesting.” As I sat in front of the TV — or next to it, since my TV is still teetering on the edge of the couch — I found that my heart was with Santa. Would anyone notice if I hit the pause button? Just to step back for a while? Try something with a regular paycheck and real benefits?
Anybody out there?
Where am I going with this?
A lot of writers — not all of us, but more than you suspect — ask themselves regularly whether the world at large would give a single damn if we stopped writing altogether. The business of publishing would continue without us. Books would come out and people would read them. Hell, we’d read them.
Are we necessary? Are we obsolete? Were we ever relevant?
We need the little stop-motion bird with that letter.
We need you.
Santa was nearly convinced that Christmas would be just fine without him … right up until one voice, a single plea, said otherwise. “You matter. You are important. You would be missed.”
Writers are the same way.
Your words, either in a review or in an email or on social media or by cute little stop-motion bird, matter more than we can say. The message that takes just a few minutes matters a hell of a lot.
The review that tells the world how much a story meant to you. The Facebook post that invites your friends to tag an author everyone should try. The email that says you’re looking forward to our next work and asks when it will be available.
That message — the one that says we are heard, that we matter, that we would be missed if we did something sensible like find a so-called real job to take seriously — that’s a big deal.
It means someone does care if we ever put out another story.
Someone does care.
It only takes a few minutes to tell a writer you care, and you just might be the voice that person needs to hear at that moment.
And you have a few minutes, right?
Follow Lady Smut. If you play your cards right, we’ll tell you how to get the Miser Brothers’ song out of your head.