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Happy Holidays!
“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen


‘Tis the season! I’d like to welcome all the new and renewed members! We’re so happy that you are part of the “memoir revolution,” as my colleague Jerry Waxler calls this amazing and heartful surge of interest in, and publication of, memoirs. Wherever you are on your memoir journey there are always so many layers yet to learn, develop, and polish in creating a book that can be proudly published. We had a terrific Cyber-sale and I look forward to connecting with all of you, current and new members, at our member teleseminars and at our Roundtable discussions in the upcoming year. I hope you have a joyous holiday season! It was quite a year at NAMW, with the New York Times article and so many amazing and talented speakers and presenters. We are looking forward to a great line up for the New Year.



Musings about the Holidays


It’s a time of the year when the stories of our lives, written and unwritten, show up in Technicolor in our lives as we gather with loved ones and family. Sometimes we want to take those stories and put bows and ribbons on them, and sometimes we want to simply put them in a box and hide them in the back of a closet. But they are there, waiting for us—the stories of our lives, the dark one and the happier ones—we are all part of this amazing human journey.


Many of you are writing or starting a memoir, and in all the years that I have known and worked with memoir writers, the main thing I have learned is that writing a memoir is always, always, no matter what your story is, an act of courage. It is brave to grab your memories by their wispy floating tendrils and wrestle them down into a book, a story you actually lived, stories that have meaning and depth and purpose. You have a life lesson that others can learn from and you have something special too—a stick to-itive-ness that means you can not only transform your lived story into something that heals you and offers you a new perspective on old viewpoints, but you have the power to help others too. We are not alone in our joy and pain, we are on this journey through life with others. What we need is to feel the connection, and know there are others out there shining light on the true and real stories that we are passionate about writing. That is what I hope to offer here at the National Association of Memoir Writers—some cheerleading through the programs we present with presenters that offer craft and inspiration.


I hope you all join us this season and in the coming year for our teleseminars, Roundtables, workshops and classes. Have a wonderful holiday season, and take notes at your family gatherings this holiday season. They might come in handy as research for your memoir!



Writing Your Holiday Memories Two young women writing Christmas cards


The holidays can be emotional times. Everyone is supposed to be happy but in many families the unwritten and unresolved stories surface. Most families have rituals that carry meaning and create a safe and “happy” way to move the family through the dramas that may erupt. Holidays are gathering points for our memories, our hopes and dreams. Reflect upon these moments, and notice if there is a deeper meaning in them now.

  1. Describe your childhood home during the holidays—how was it decorated? What did your neighborhood and town or city look during the holidays?
  2. During the holidays did you connect with extended family or were the holidays quiet?
  3. What is one of your favorite photographs from a holiday? Describe it and write about why it is your favorite.
  4. Write about your favorite holiday food, recipe, or story that you associate with holiday food rituals—cookie baking, special cakes, or any ritual food that has meaning to you. Use sensual details—color, sound, smell, and taste.
  5. What was your most wished for holiday present? Did you receive it or not? How did the gift you got or didn’t get affect your feelings about the holidays?
  6. Write about Christmas holidays through the decades and how they changed.
  7. What rituals do you bring from past holidays into your celebrations now? If you created new ones, write about why you chose these new rituals.
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