The excitement, joy, and painful memories of Christmas

Doug Lawrence

Christmas is a joyous time for many, but for others it’s a time of mixed emotions. For this author, moving forward in his writing projects means working through grief and loss.

by Doug Lawrence

The sounds of “trick or treat” have faded into the distance. Bags and bags of candy are being divided amongst siblings, and the Halloween costumes are being put away in the tickle trunk for next year—or to serve as a reminder of who we were and who we don’t want to be next year. My being an author kicked in as I was listening to what all were saying and feeding off of the excitement that youth have with occasions such as this. I think of how I can take this lived experience and intertwine it into something that I could include in my next book. Always listening and always looking for content.

The Halloween decorations are being put away to welcome the next occasion: Christmas. The excitement is starting to build, and children are asking when the Christmas decorations are going to be put into place. Taking that excitement and working it into a book that you are currently working on can give it a different perspective. But for me, there was something missing.

I think back to Christmas 2020, a time where Christmas was spent primarily at the hospital. We had to be creative in order to be able to spend time with each other as my wife had been diagnosed with cancer. No thanks to Covid, there were restrictions on visitation. All of this was taking place as the countdown to having my book published was looming closer. Sure, I had a year until the book launch, but as we all know, time goes by very quickly. There were deadlines to meet and things to finalize. Being able to share the excitement of this exciting event was diminished by our fight with Debra’s cancer. I found my journaling of all that was happening to be therapeutic and beneficial to my mental health. A lot of what I was hearing, seeing, and feeling would have been lost if not for the journal. Debra passed away in February of 2021, and her fight and her story have been my focus since then. Telling her story, whether it be verbally or in writing, has been the most therapeutic thing I could do. I have been able to build on how we have dealt with the grief that came with her passing.

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As an author, I want to be able to tell my story, and I can do that through writing a book (or books) or verbally telling the story. I know I have shared how important writing is. As part of my writing experience, I have found something that works that enhances my writing experience: I now record my thoughts and then have that transcribed into the written word so I can include that in whatever book I am writing at the time. I can also save those thoughts for subsequent books or as something I can share while verbally telling the story. I have found that I sometimes end up stagnating and unable to take random thoughts and shape them into something meaningful.

I know that Christmas, while a joyous family time, is also a sad time and one of reflection for me. There will always be an empty seat at the dinner table.

Christmas 2022 is almost upon us. There will be many experiences that I will want to capture and turn into my next book. Whether those thoughts are captured using the journal or recorded and later transcribed is yet to be determined.

One thing I wanted to share is the impact that grief can have when you are writing—or trying to write—a book. It has been easy some days to procrastinate and not stick to the schedule that I had made for myself. It has been easy to lose sight of the goal line and the fact that if I don’t stay focused, no one else will.

Yes, there are some days that are more productive than others, and that is to be expected. We still need to move forward. I have had times when sitting in front of my laptop would result in an outburst of emotion that would take me away from what I was to be doing. I know that with Christmas just around the corner, there will be family gatherings, and I need to manage my grief and not let it manage me. Grief can come in many different ways. Memories of Christmases past usually open the door for more grief to come in for me. It is interesting that as I sit here writing this piece, I have become immersed in memories and the emotions that go with that.

As an author, one that is passionate about sharing my story, which has a number of aspects to it, I know that Christmas, while a joyous family time, is also a sad time and one of reflection for me. There will always be an empty seat at the dinner table, and it is important that we remember the significance of that empty seat. That is what she would want.

Whether you are taking a break from writing, just starting your next book, or writing your very first book, remember to look around and capture what you see, feel, and hear, as that is your story to share with us.

May the holidays be filled with peace, love, happiness, and the love and warmth of family and friends.

Doug Lawrence is the author of You Are Not Alone and The Gift of Mentoring, and has been involved in the certification of mentors since 2009. Doug is an international speaker and author about all facets of mentoring, and is the only person to hold a Certificate of Competence – Journey Mentor from the International Mentoring Community. Contact Doug directly to discover how mentoring can improve your organization.

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