Sunday, November 18, 2007

Twisting Secret Santa

I love this time of year. Really, I do. Starting in October there is a feeling of excitement that begins to build. The bright colors, the smiling pumpkins, the ghosts and ghouls; all make me smile. Turkeys and scarecrows with harvest corn and colorful gourds take their turn in November. Then in December the twinkle lights and the red ribbons, the evergreen boughs and mistletoe, the snowmen, candy canes, Santas and nativities take the sense of beauty and wonder to the next level. (Unfortunately it also takes tacky along with it, but hey, it’s Christmas –we’ll over look it.) People will go out of their way to put a little extra fun in their daily lives, and in the lives of others. Those displays aren’t just for the people who live in that house, they are also for others; like a little gift to the neighborhood.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is gift giving. I bring this up now not to remind you that you have only 6 shopping weekends til Christmas, but because it is time for the Crones Secret Santa.

I belong to a writer’s group called the Circle of Crones. The core of our group met years ago when we were writers or staff at a fanfiction website. The site was unique in that it was started to use Harry Potter to encourage children to write. Fanfiction is a technique that works wonders to motivate reluctant writers; I’ve seen it in my own classroom. But I digress…

Because we were adults and wanted to have adult conversations and start working on more original material, we started The Circle of Crones. The archives are closed to members only, but we do welcome new members. I’ve workshopped all my pieces there and continue to do so. —I’ll bet you think I’m digressing again. Nope.

Each year for the past several years we’ve done a secret Santa exchange. Now how do people who, with rare exceptions, have never met face to face do a secret Santa exchange? Do we all run out and buy token gifts to mail across the world? (We have members spread across the world.) What does one buy a computer guru from D.C.? Or a civil servant from London? Or a rowdy, fun-loving nurse from Texas? A mom, writer and teacher from Washington state? And most importantly, what does one send a self described mad Welsh witch?

The answer is something you made. We exchange our talents. We paint a picture or write a story. The exchange is organized and everyone puts up their wish list. One person might ask for a “romantic story set in the Regency period.” Another might want a fanfiction story about Neville Longbottom or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Others might ask for art depicting dragons, faeries, ocean landscapes or a favorite character.

So far no one has ever been disappointed.

So I look over my Secret Santa list of options with eagerness. What wish will I fulfill this year? One year I combined them all into one. Maybe I’ll play in the world of fanfiction again, just for a hoot. Maybe I’ll draw a picture. Whatever I choose, I know it will have to be good, because I’m bound to get something great when my turn comes.


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