The Promise Of Christmas

The Promise Of Christmas

The more I think about it, the extra time and work that went into rewriting “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” was an absolute gift to me. It allowed me to hop, skip, and stumble into a realization that I call “The Promise Of Christmas.”

Events and people come together in the most amazing patterns to influence us in unexpected ways. Almost two decades ago (after teaching for two decades before), I was working for a mobile phone company in technical support for a year and then in customer service for another year. There was a group that was formed called “customer retention,” and their task was to hold onto customers who wanted to drop their contracted service.

One of their retention specialists was an elderly woman named Miss Geraldine. She loved God and she loved her church and she prayed. It was an everyday occurrence to look across our big office suite and see her standing in her cubicle with her hands in the air. Often you could hear her saying, “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!” Even if you couldn’t hear her out loud, you knew exactly what she was saying.

Now this was not my tradition, but it was hers and no one ever complained about it because she was the best the company had for customer retention. You could just tell she loved everybody.

Miss Geraldine had lived her whole life in our little city of Portsmouth surrounded by other bigger and more prosperous cities. She had lived through Jim Crow laws and segregation, and then she had lived through desegregation and the strife of the 1960’s. Through it all, she kept smiling and loving everybody no matter what.

I asked her about all of this once, and she told me, “God gave me his best in Jesus, so I’ve got to give everybody my best too.”

And that was the start of how The Promise Of Christmas began to come together in my heart and eventually into my writing. God is Love. Love gives. For God so loved, He gave. We are most like God when we give from our hearts.

As Miss Geraldine would say to you if she were alive today, “One Christmas, God gave us His best gift ever. All He had. All He treasured most. The least I can do is to give my best too.”

I have to agree with Miss Geraldine. I’d almost bet she had chickens in her backyard.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will have a good holiday season no matter what your tradition and even if you don’t have any tradition at all. Giving does not require a tradition, just a heart filled with love.

 

My Unstoppable Pearl!

If I had to choose a favorite illustration from “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” it would probably be the one above.  (Each illustration is framed by a different border based on discarded gift wrap collected by Pearl on Trash Truck Tuesdays. Each border tries to compliment the mood or tone of the chapter.)

Hopefully this image is just as happy and joyful and full of movement as Pearl herself. And she is quite unstoppable in real life and on the pages of this book. She never gives up. This is also the only illustration in the book that shows Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia all together. The amazement on Emily’s face (second from the left in the audience) is so much like her. 

The backdrop you see to the right is based on a poster by one of my favorite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Pearl picked it out as part of the backdrop for her comedy show because the Parisian dancing ladies remind her of white-feathered chickens like herself. (I did not tell her about how the yellow-orange background reminds me of an egg yolk, but it does!)

This chapter follows a chapter where all of my chickens, including Pearl, are practicing their ballet, a much more “refined and elegant” form of dance than the “rowdy and raucous” can-can. This chapter ends with Pearl’s statement, “There’s more than one kind of dancing in Paris, so maybe there’s more than one way to be a chicken!”

‘La Troupe De Mlle Églantine’, 1896. Poster. Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri, de (1864-1901). Found in the collection of the State A. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

To end this post, I’d like to share this video clip from the movie “Can-Can” starring Shirley MacClaine. The music and choreography are simply brilliant. They make me want to dance right along with them, and my heart certainly does dances even if my legs can’t!

The exuberance and joy in this dance are exactly what Pearl has in her own heart. She absolutely loves everybody and everything, and by the end of the book, she embraces exactly who she is because of what she can give.

Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! With its 64 pages, 6 inches x 9 inches trim size, 10 chapters, and full-color illustrations, it will be sharing the story of Blanche and Pearl with readers around the world. It’s definitely time for a happy dance!

Just Another Saturday? Maybe Not!

You might call this a “Here’s What’s Been Happening” post. Even though I am only working four days a week as a part-time employee now, it still seems as if there is never enough time to do everything I need to do and want to do!

While I have been waiting for Barnes & Noble Press to resolved their system issues and working to figure out why Kindle Direct Publishing will not accept my files, I’ve been working on a few book cover projects as gifts for other writer friends here on WordPress.

These projects include an adult non-fiction book cover for my friend Dave and a children’s fiction book cover for my friend Cathy. (After all, the main theme of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is the importance of giving! It seemed only natural to give away some artwork.)

Honestly, I’ve learned and grown more as an artist by giving towards their projects rather than becoming a “drawing board hermit“ and only focusing on my own projects. Neither project looks like anything that you would find here or in my own books. 

I am looking at taking on one more book cover gift project before the end of the year, and I am leaning towards it being a book of poetry. Not sure why. Just seems to be “what’s next.” If your are a poet and need some help with a cover for a soon-to-be-published book, let me know. It would be my gift to you to help you share your gift with the world.

One of the most surprising things I learned has been that I felt much more creative freedom when working on projects for someone else! While I don’t totally understand why that was so, this awareness opened up some new possibilities for my own projects, and I’m very grateful for that.

So now I have been very eager to try out some new things for my own projects, like the simple line and ink wash you see in today’s illustration. Though I’m unsure how any of this will evolve, I am reminded that it is all about the journey.

Oh, and by the way, I almost forgot to mention this…Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! With its 64 pages, 6 inches x 9 inches trim size, 10 chapters, and full-color illustrations, it will be sharing the story of Blanche and Pearl with readers around the world. It’s definitely time for a happy dance!