The Life Autistic: Our Kind of Christmas

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I’m taking a break for the holidays.

To my usual readers – catch you later!

—-

To those of you out there on the spectrum with me:

I feel the irksome woes of routines being all askew this season.

I don’t like that much either.

Christmas and the holiday season should be fun, but I get it, it’s just different. The shake-ups can shake you up.

They’ll be doing the same to me.

Hang in there.

Cheers,

H2

‘Tis the Season

Hey folks,

I’ll leave you with a Christmas trifecta as we head into the New Year. On New Year’s Day, we’ll return with some “New Year’s Writing Revolutions,” since resolutions don’t cut it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The world might end. Christmas might be cancelled this year. But if not:

Writing Good Christmas Cards — If you haven’t done this yet, here’s how to do it like a boss. 

Writing a Traditional Christmas Letter — You haven’t done this yet, (cue George Zimmer voice) I guarantee it. There’s nothing more delightful than sending a “traditional” humbraggy letter letting everyone know just how awesome you have it. Take advantage, because it’s the most (and only) wonderful time of the year you’ll be able to do it.

Gifts for Writers — You can rack your brains all you want OR you can do this the easy way and just buy what the writers in your life really want. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

-H2

Gifts for Writers

Writing. Holidays. Good luck.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What gifts do you recommend giving writers for Christmas?
—Leonard Ankeny, Marquette, Iowa. 

Great question! Folks, you have it easy when shopping for most writers. Most of us plan ahead, think forward, keep things unsuspenseful in general. There are works to be written. Christmastime isn’t a guessing game. Just ask; they’ll tell you. And hey, you’ll be right on the money with what you get for that brooding writer in your life. Isn’t that easy?

1) Notebooks

Boring, but by golly-geeze, they’re effective. It’s a little rude to whip out one’s smartphone or portable and start writing in the middle of something. “Hey, this is church! You should be listening!” But a notebook? Elegant. Sly. It’s gotten me out of the forefront of a few awkward social gatherings. I recommend the products at Moleskine.

2) Restaurant gift cards

Writing and cooking. They’re great, but they’re mutually exclusive. Anytime you hand that writer a potential “Get out of the Kitchen Free” card, you’ve bestowed freedom. Doesn’t freedom taste awesome? Plenty to find at Restaurant.com

3) Caffeine

Since I can’t quite recommend a bevy of intoxicants and hallucinogens, I’ll recommend legal stimulants. There’s always that person who’s going to run a writer ragged with “real-world” issues, chores, and whatnot. Give back by offering goodies that’ll recharge and supercharge that writing mind. Thinkgeek has some awesome novelties in the caffeine arena, and if you’re looking for excellent caffeine supply by way of coffee, Writing All Wrong chooses Camano Island Coffee Roasters.

4) Software

Really? Why not the ol’ parchment and quill? If you want to write for the market of 1612, be my guest. If you want to write for the market of today, perhaps you should ping that writer in your life, see what his keystrokes are going to. Scrivener has a good following, with a decent feature set that aids the planning and organizing as much as it does writing. If you’re into more minimal tools, I’ve found my writing doing most of its work in Pages (Mac-only, which you should be).

5) Time

Talk about the one thing we could all use more of. In writing, time is a premium. Why not cut your writer friend/spouse/significant other some slack? Maybe they can take the night off of Christmas card writing, extraneous partying, and other such things they’re too polite to decline. Anything you can do that gets time back in a writer’s day: that’s a gift indeed.

Plenty of options: go to. It’s what writers want. And writers, feel free to add to the wish list as you see fit.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

The Traditional Christmas Letter

We used to be a literate nation, America. We read, we wrote. Can you name any good writers from the past 40 years? Of course not. That’s not the country we live in anymore. We’ve traded Henry James (a titan of literature) for LeBron James (a writer of subpar force). We’ve swapped communication for lolwut txting.

To be honest, it could be worse. At least we expunged cursive. That was long overdue for expulsion.

Anyway, when you have to Google the “traditional Christmas letter,” then there’s just nothing left to say.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Hey, I had a great idea for a story. Hear me out: it’s about a girl in the city who—[DELETED]

—Maureen Moore, Orange Park, FL. 

Sorry about that, Maureen. There’s a Christmas tradition to save. Your answer: no.

Rather than share the lost tradition of the traditional Christmas letters (begun by Pliny the Older) or learn you in how to write these things, I’ll share my own work as a guideline. Enjoy.

Dear Everyone,

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season! We know times have probably been harder on you than they’ve been on us,1 but the holidays are here and full of cheer.

It’s been a full year for the Writing All Wrong camp, and we’ve taken the time this holiday season to reflect on our fortune, reaching out in love to let you know what’s been going on in our neck of the woods. We sincerely wish we could come visit with you all2—maybe a trip to one of3 our villas in Monte Carlo is on your agenda!

Mr. Writing All Wrong has been keeping busy, just like the rest of you,4 I’m sure. Writing gigs seem to roll off a conveyor belt these days, and while it’s been quite the bear to rotate between our mountain and beach properties, we’ve managed well. As always, Mrs. Writing All Wrong makes the best of our open schedule, cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing and keeping the kids (and husband) in line.5

Speaking of kids, Anderson just recently wrapped up his third year at Harvard, making the most of his scholarship6 and opportunities, majoring in Finance. We’re looking forward to the work7 he’s got going on in his startup. Following in footsteps of success, we hope.8 Hah! As for Kimberly, she’s done well to handle the pressure and delicate work-life balance of being a CEO at 25.9 It was just yesterday she sold lemonade on the freeway, and now she’s calling the shots for Lemonadia®. Time flies so fast!

After such a whirlwind of a year, we again send our love, joy, and riches 10 to our loved ones this holiday season. Please enjoy the accompanying gift basket of caviar, Andalusian hams, and some of our finest pepper crackers and foie gras.11 We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Writing All Wrong.

Notes:

  1. Have to acknowledge one’s station here.
  2. No, not really.
  3. We have five villas.
  4. Even though some of you were laid off for the holidays…
  5. She doesn’t do any of that. We’re trying to evoke the “good ol’ days,” whenever those were.
  6. Full-ride with benefits, of course.
  7. Like every other college junior, he has his own business, one that his snob rich parents helped him start.
  8. Laughing it off makes it seem less ridiculously fortunate than it really is
  9. Humblebrag. Who cares about pressure when you rake in enough buck to copyright it?
  10. Didn’t send riches, sorry.
  11. Didn’t send a basket. Forgot to edit that out, sorry.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and postmarked for traditional Christmas delivery.

Writing Good Christmas Cards

We’re taking a turn for the festive here at Writing All Wrong, engorging on Christmas cookies, cakes, and guzzling peppermint/gingerbread mochas, brewing a storm of writing under snow and mistletoe.

Right.

The holiday season is like a yearly maelstrom that’s on every calendar sold in America, but it doesn’t appear until about two weeks before it hits. You can plan writing. You can’t plan holidays. You might be able to plan writing during the holidays.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Speaking of writing How do i write a good Christmas card?

—Greg Danning, Schenectady, N.Y. 

I’m flattered that you ask: no one does this anymore, except me. Writing is eternal, seeping into all corners of life. I’ve single-handedly enlightened the Christmases of all I know, spreading cheer with gracious and thoughtful cards, lovingly handwritten by candlelight. I spend every evening in December at my escritoire, humming along to Bing Crosby and Andy Williams as they croon the holidays to the tune of my writing in longhand.

If you have to ask, then you obviously live in a mindset when it’s always winter, but never Christmas. Here’s how you amp up those Christmas cards and put the “Jolly” back in “Have a Lolly Jolly Christmas.”

1. Acknowledge everyone in the family.

“Hey Todd, hope you and Vixen (and your ex-wives Roxxy, Charmayne, and Skyy[sp?]) are doing well this holiday season!”

Don’t leave anyone out. People hate being left out, and they hate when you leave out people important to them.

2. Create suspense and eagerness.

“I enclosed $20, since I figured you could use a bit of extra Christmas cash. Enjoy!”

I love this. I typically enclose the $20 before I mail it, but I’ll remove the bill before sealing the envelope. It’s a great way to get a return letter, phone call, something to keep the lines of communication open.

3. Make sure they know what’s on your mind, what you’re up to.

“I wish you all the best, but we’re doing great! Can’t believe what fortune we’ve enjoyed with our getaway house! Lovingly sent from under a palm tree in Maui, Writing All Wrong.” 

How else will people know what you’re up to these days? Don’t ask, do tell.

4. Don’t wish well, wish specific.

“Wishing you a swift move out of the unemployment line, and here’s hoping your furnace doesn’t kick the bucket this chilly Christmas season (since I know you had to cut back on presents from the cost repairing it already).

Precisely. Show some forethought. General wellwishing is no wellwishing at all.

5. Use holiday generosity as a springboard for offering favors.

“Just saw the pics of that new backhoe — you should come up for a cup of cocoa and Wild Turkey and help us out with the ditch we’re diggin’. Spend the night or two or however long it takes, whatever. It’ll be fun!”

Always give a chance for people to offer you favors. It’s in the Spirit of Christmas, after all.

Feel free to share what makes your Christmas cards as special as mine.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and re-gifted in a white elephant soiree.