Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Elana Johnson

Book Nerd Holiday 

Taking the Time to Build Meaningful Traditions 

Okay, so I guess I get to take over the blog today. That takes a lot of guts to let me do that. Hope I don’t disappoint.

I’m going to talk a little bit about holiday traditions. See, when I was a kid, my family did the same things every year. My grandma came to our house, we ate the same meal, with the same pie recipe year after year. After year.

I think there are good things to using/doing the same things over and over.

But as an adult, I find myself experimenting more with recipes. I don’t always make the same holiday meal. I don’t follow the family traditions. (Some say it’s because of my rebellious attitude. I have no comment.)

And I’ve discovered that it’s okay to start new traditions. Ones that my kids will take with them into adulthood, and either continue to replicate or be brave enough to branch out and begin their own.

One particular example comes with the advent calendar. Don’t even try to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Those little calendars where you get to open a little window each day and eat the little chocolate inside.

As a child, my mom bought me one every year. I loved them. LOVED THEM.

This year, I saw them at the store and I bought them for my kids, thinking they’d have this same magical experience with the advent calendar that I experienced in my childhood.

I know you know where this is going.

They didn’t have the same experience. My daughter ate all the chocolate in one day, not bothering to wait and anticipate what might be behind the next door. My son lost his.

I wish I were kidding.

What does this teach me?

My childhood memories are not my children’s. Traditions take time to build (one advent calendar in 13 years is not the way to go). And that I probably need to work harder to establish traditions with my children if I want them to stick.

I think a lot of this life lesson I learned this year can be applied to writing and reading. A book that you read and love, your best friend might not. (Your experiences are not theirs.) The things we write as authors we spend a lot of time with. We grow to love our stories more than anyone else. They’re engrained in us. But that doesn’t mean they will be treasured by others.

And that’s okay. We have to keep working at our craft. We have to keep trusting readers to want to read good stories.

We have to spend the time it takes to build something memorable. And when we do, the rewards will be worthwhile.


  1. So pretty post! I didn´t know about those calendars, but I want one now! so I guess I´ll try to buy it!

  2. I tried those as well. Two of my boys ate all of their chocolates the first day. The other boy was doing it the right way and probably would have kept doing it properly but after about a week, his brothers decided to eat the rest of his. :(