All Those December Holidays!

All Those December Holidays!

At this time of the year, we are once again confronted by all those December holidays. I’ve been blogging since 2009, so I’ve been down this road a few times. Finding something fresh to say gets challenging!

But this year I already have enough challenges, thank you. So, before I leap back into revisions on Bone of Contention, my current novel-in-progress (I now have a projected release date! September 24, 2024!), I gratefully returned to what you might call my “backlist.” That’s all those “December holidays posts”I’ve written over the years.

If I do say so myself, I think I’ve found some creative “takes” over the years. Certainly I’ve found a lot of different ways to approach the season’s topics. I hope you’ll enjoy a survey of the ones I think worked best.

This square montage shows examples of handmade gift wrap from the four-post series noted and linked to in this post. The examples show, clockwise from upper left: packages wrapped in light blue paper, pencil-eraser stamped with designs of snowflakes and a snowman; A package wrapped to resemble a brick fireplace with three stockings hung; a package wrapped with a paper map of the UK and northern Europe, with a stenciled baggage tag marked “P” tied on with sisal twine; and a package embellished with fabric trim and a bit of evergreen garland.
Montage by Jan S. Gephardt; see Credits for details.

Handmade Gift Wraps for the Holidays

One of the more enduringly popular holiday post series I wrote for my Artdog Adventures blog was the “Handmade Gift Wrap” Series. I wrote them in 2016, but I read through them again recently to make sure they still hold up. If you’re giving gifts for any or all of those December holidays, perhaps you’ll find some fun ideas among them.

5 Slick Tips to Make Your Own Wrapping Paper surveyed several easy and classic ways to create repeating or unusual patterns on paper. This is a craft-project-oriented approach, suitable for all ages and encouraged if you have grade-school-age kids.

Does Your Gift Wrap Do Impressions? explored creative themes for gift wrap that evokes such varied ideas as gifts that look like stocking-hung chimneys, holiday shirts, or candies.

The Fabric of the Imagination encouraged readers to think beyond traditional wrapping paper and consider the creative potential in fabric scraps, notions, yarn, and similar materials.

Repurposed Wraps: “Second Careers” for a Variety of Items offered inspiration about ways to empower the reuse part of the “reduce-reuse-recycle” motto. This is “onsite recycling” at it most creative (and beautiful).

The words around the photo say “Have a Traditional Winter Solstice! The photo shows the famous triple-spiral design incised inside the Newgrange Tomb. It is popularly thought to be Celtic, but it actually is older by several thousand years. It bears a striking resemblance to sun symbols found across northern Europe. The tomb’s outer opening precisely frames the rising sun on Winter Solstice. Photo courtesy Michael and Claire O’Kelly, via Knowth.com.
Design by Jan S. Gephardt; see complete Credits below.

The Depths of Winter

One observance I’ve returned to repeatedly, amid all those December holidays, is the Winter Solstice. Its “cousin” Yuletide (sometimes they’re conflated) showed up in an early post – Back in 2013, inspired by an article in The Atlantic. Here’s my commentary on the article from back then: You Think Halloween is Scary? Try Yuletide!

In 2016 (what a year that was for “Jan, blogging,” it seems!) I had a great time digging into the traditions of observing the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. I was fascinated to discover some near-universal ideas, traditions, and favorite foods. Perhaps you’ll enjoy this review of them, too! Get Drunk, Light a Fire, and Eat Dumplings or Fruit! It’s Winter Solstice!

Another Winter-Solstice-themed post that turned out to be rather popular came in 2022. This was an abridged story excerpt (I removed as many story spoilers as I could) from my novel A Bone to Pick, second in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy, of which my current project Bone of Contention is the third. Like many of my friends, my character Berwyn and his family celebrate Solstice, rather than Christmas or other December holidays. I hope you’ll enjoy Berwyn’s Solstice Story.

This square montage shows photos from Facebook, plus several taken by Tyrell or Jan Gephardt at 2023 conventions. They show displays, clockwise from upper left, from Top Tier Figures, Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, a panorama of booths at the Archon 46 Dealers Room, the Ziggy’s West display at SoonerCon 31 and Tom Ulrick making a face at the photographer, and two views of parts of the Kreative Menagerie’s displays at SoonerCon 31.
Displays from Top Tier Figures, Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, the Archon 46 Dealers Room, Ziggy’s West, and Kreative Menagerie.

All Those December Holidays in Their Times

Ready for a walk down memory lane? Some of our recent Decembers have come during challenging times. During our COVID winters I tried to offer some hope and perspective. In 2020, I wrote A Season of Small Bright Spots to encourage myself, as well as my readers. As things dragged on into 2021, I followed that with It’s Okay to Feel What We Feel. There, I dipped a little deeper into the sources of difficult feelings around the holidays and ways to allow ourselves some grace.

Remember post-Pandemic supply-chain issues? They’re not a problem now, but they frustrated a lot of holiday shoppers in the winter of 2021. My post Beating Supply Chain Issues encouraged readers to shop locally and buy from small creative businesses. If you read my last post, Dealers Room Denizens for the Holidays, it should be pretty clear that I think supporting small creative businesses in all years is a pretty awesome plan!

The square, black and gold illustrated quote from the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Design by Rocio Chavez. See Image Credits below.

All Those December Holidays Have a Parallel Point

When we think about origins and meanings, it seems to me that all those December holidays that developed in the Northern Hemisphere have one underlying objective. It’s also the common theme that weaves through all the posts I’ve mentioned in this blog post. The spiritual message, no matter how we celebrate it or what we call it, is hope.

Hanukkah, Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, even New Year’s – they’re all about coming together, and warming each other in a dark, cold time. They’re about sharing fellowship, joy, and faith that renewal will come.

In the words I gave to my character Berwyn, “It starts at that very moment when darkness and cold seem to conquer the world. The light comes back. The warmth begins to grow. New hope rises up, and the faith that things will get better.”

In the midst of all those December holidays, that’s what I wish for you most: New hope, and faith that things will get better.

About the Author

Author Jan S. Gephardt is the Chief Cat-Herder, Manager of Weirdness, Art Director, and Marketing Director for Weird Sisters Publishing LLC. She is the author of the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy, humorous science fiction mystery novels about a pack of sapient police dogs who live on a space station.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to the following designers whose photos reflect creative gift wrapping ideas shown in the first montage. Thanks to designer Morgan Levine for the pencil-eraser stamped gift wrap photo. Also to Mary Dacuma for the creative gift-wrap that evokes a chimney with stockings. Our gratitude to H. Camille Smith for a demonstration of leftover fabric trim for a beautiful package. And finally to designer Bryan Patrick Flynn for his example of using a map fora wrap.

The “Solstice” image is based on Jan’s blog post Get Drunk, Light a Fire, and Eat Dumplings or Fruit. The photo of Newgrange Tomb’s triple-spiral and outer opening that frames the Winter Solstice sunrise is courtesy Michael and Claire O’Kelly, via Knowth.com. The third montage is from our just-previous post, Dealers Room Denizens for the Holidays. Displays from Top Tier Designs, Space Cadets Candies & More LLC, the Archon 46 Dealers Room, Ziggy’s West, and Kreative Menagerie (see that post for details).

Finally, the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu’s “hope” quote was presented beautifully by designer Rocio Chavez (check out her blog and her Facebook page, for some real mood-elevators!). Jan shared it in her post A Season of Small Bright Spots. Many thanks to all!

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