Boxes and Letters

Christmas went well. I was able to spend plenty of time with my family and share good food, the two highlights of the holidays for me. One of my family’s traditions is to eat Chinese food on Christmas eve, and that’s always a very enjoyable time, since most of those in my family are good cooks.

Most of the gifts I received this year were of a practical nature, which I appreciate very much. I always feel bad storing away presents I won’t use, so I’m thankful to not have to do that this time. Among the highlights are bamboo plants, a toaster (I’ve been missing bagels), other kitchen supplies, the new Tolkien calendar (the first one in years that I actually like the art of), a wall clock, notebooks and journals, a game that I can play at work and plenty of edibles. I also have three books, Ming-Dao Deng’s Everyday Tao, Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching and the anthology The Art of the Personal Essay, on their way in the mail.

Today is Boxing Day in much of the English speaking world, so I thought I’d share a bit on its origins that I just came across.

“Boxing Day is so called because on this day it was the customary for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good service throughout the year. Also, it included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, and the needy.
The holiday may date from as early as the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is not known. It may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England, who gave there Christmas boxes/gifts to their servants on December 26, or maybe by priests, who opened the church’s alms (charity boxes), and distributed the contents to the poor and needy.”

While Christmas had a light, quick-to-melt dusting of snow to make it barely in the white category, we’ll now be hit by a snow storm tonight. Environment Canada is predicting a blizzard for tonight, which should make work rather cold and challenging when I’m dashing through it swiping my lock card. It may be time to break out my ski mask and go about my rounds ninja-style.

To step out of this entry I’d like to leave you with some words I feel have a great deal of value and relevance to those of us who are compelled to write because we love writing, love words, love storytelling. They are from Ursula K. Le Guin, an author I respect deeply and feel has a tremendous understanding of the value of the written word.

“Socrates said, “The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.” He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”
– “A Few Words to a Young Writer” by UKL

Is there any more important message for writers? As online journal keepers or bloggers, usually people writing not for personal profit, and writers of prose or poetry, do we not have a responsibility to live up the the aim of honing our craft?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: