‘A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit.’
In one of the final paragraphs of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Scrooge’s character is totally transformed. And what has changed, after his intercourse with three spirits? (Dickens’ words not mine!) Nothing has changed externally. He hasn’t suddenly become richer or acquired a lot of good friends. No, what he needed for a happier life was there all along, he just hadn’t realised it. His sense of lack; his meanness, permeated his life and made it a miserable one. Scrooge awakens with a new sense of generosity, abundance and perhaps above all, a sense of gratitude. As he opens his window on Christmas morning he rejoices, ‘Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!’
Recently, I read a blog written by American writer, Dianne Mackinnon. It was about how instilling a sense of gratitude can turn you into a happier person. Something we Brits find hard. We’re more comfortable grumbling and groaning like Scrooge. Being too happy goes against the grain and smacks of blowing one’s own trumpet.
Focusing on gratitude can actually improve your day and your mood. Studies have shown that making a gratitude list, even in your head, before going to bed, gives people more and better sleep. Dianne also provided a gratitude exercise, especially for writers. I recommend you either print this out and fill in the blanks, as quick as you can, or write the answers in your journal as you read through the exercise. Blow your own trumpet and revel in it! Here are my answers:
Writer’s List of Gratitude
Three books I’m grateful were written, so that I could read them
1. The Silver Brumby, by Elyne Mitchell
2. Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
3. Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks
Three People/Groups Who Support Me As A Writer
1. My husband
2. Writers Abroad and Amsterdam writing group
3. My coach at Grow with the Flow
Three Pieces I’m Glad I Wrote:
1. My first published story inspired by the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle. It was fun to write and it got recognised!
2. The story about the district nurse who cared for my mother when she was very ill. It never got published but it was cathartic and healing to write.
3. Homecoming, which was recorded for Short Story Radio and meant I was invited to the launch party in one of Dickens’ London homes!
Three Places or Things That Support You As a Writer
1. A good cup of Nespresso coffee.
2. My word processing program.
3. The internet connection that enables me to link up with other writers and research stuff I know nothing about.
Three Qualities You Love About Yourself As a Writer
1. My imagination.
2. My skill at creating a sense of place.
3. My ability to be inspired by events and people.
I’d love to hear a few of your answers. Oh, and maybe a little early, but have A Merrier Christmas!