December 26, 2004
The Feast of Stephen
— Frederick Buechner, b. 1926
American writer and theologian
Since the early 90s it’s been my habit to start a new notebook for my paper journal on this day, as a way of starting fresh for the new year. I started this online journal in February of 1999, on my mother’s birthday, and in December I took up the habit of paralleling my private journal habits by starting a new volume of it on The Feast of Stephen. That was my father’s birthday. I remember my parents’ birthdays more now that they’re gone than I did when they were around to be told, glad you’re here, the whole reason we celebrate birthdays anyway. My year-end letter, the thing I send instead of a Christmas card, is always dated on this day, if not mailed until maybe Epiphany. Last year I didn’t even write one. I don’t remember now why.
For a writing exercise this morning I reviewed all the Feast of Stephen entries in my paper journal (the Buechner quotation above was entered in 1995) and the online versions as well. In 1999 I noted that I had made up a fancy French name for this time of year, Fin de l’Annee. I don’t really know French, but I do know the literary term fin de siecle (bandied about much in 1999), so I’m guessing that’s how one might say “end of the year.” In 2000 I was emerging from a bout of medical complications that had threatened to derail the season entirely for me. In 2001 I was trying to come to grips with the sudden death of a young woman of my acquaintance. In 2002 I changed the name of the journal and announced that after nearly abandoning the effort I was going to write more regularly. I didn’t. In 2003 I changed the name and focus again but ended the piece with the uncertain, “Joy to the world! Now what?”
I’m making the same promises to myself and to my readers that I’ve made for several years now. I’m going to lose weight, develop as a fiction writer, get back to cross-stitch and other handcrafts, go out with friends more, declutter my house, and develop as a nonfiction writer by posting more often to this site. Holidailies has been good for me in this regard. I’m over 15,000 words and have had a lot of encouraging feedback.
So thanks to everyone who has read and especially those who have written. I’m ready to meet all those old goals and go to Wyoming.
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