It’s January, and that means the stockings are down, the tree has been hauled out to the curb, and the cookies are almost gone. The only thing that remains is our holiday door, where we put up all of the cards and photos we receive in December. We always leave that up as long as we can, because it represents the wonderful community of friends and loved ones our family is lucky enough to be surrounded by. There’s a quiet calm in our house, as we prepare for school to start back up tomorrow, and our somewhat crazed “normal” to take over once again.
In the Dixon house, there’s not much that compares to the excitement of the Christmas season. One of my favorite parts is seeing the miraculous camaraderie that forms between our children as they look forward to our holiday traditions. The four of them become unusually united in their efforts to open presents early, to eat one more candy cane, or to stay up later to catch Santa. Over and over again, I find myself saying, “No, no. You ALL have to WAIT.” And there is something in that shared experience of impatience and excitement and anticipation that tightens their bond in an amazing way.
As writers we certainly do our fair share of waiting. There are definitely days in this submission process that I’ve felt much more like a professional waiter than a professional writer. And most of the time, there’s not much positive I can find in the waiting process. I just want it to be over. I just want it to happen already. And often, I get to the point where I don’t even care anymore whether I’m going to feel joy or pain as a result of whatever I’m waiting for…I just want to stop waiting and know something…anything!
But what would happen if we stopped lamenting the wait? What if we started to see the positive in the waiting? Is it there? Can we find it? Kevin Henkes certainly thinks so.
In his most recent picture book, aptly titled, WAITING, Henkes shows us that there is beauty and blessing in the wait.
Mostly, we wait for the expected. The owl waits for the moon. The pig with the umbrella waits for the rain. The bear with the kite waits for the wind. The writer waits for the rejection. And there is comfort when the expected arrives, because we were ready.
But out the window we watch and we hope for the unexpected. Clouds shaped like animals. Fireworks that light up the night sky. A positive word from an agent or editor.
As we wait, it is possible to feel both delighted and afraid.
But if we continue to wait, we will likely come upon something extraordinary.
And as the extraordinary happens; as our writing becomes ink on paper in real books that actual people hold in their hands, it becomes, like the Dixon family holiday door, a testimony to this wonderful community that we are surrounded by. Miraculously united by a shared experience of impatience and excitement and anticipation.
And until then?