December 2009  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips
Holiday Wreath

Happy Holidays!

The UpWrite Press team wishes you and yours the very best holiday season, however you may celebrate it. Thank you for being a part of our lives, and may you have a joyous new year.

"A writer doesn't solve problems. He allows them to emerge."

--Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Word Pair of the Month: imply, infer

This month's pair have an interesting connection. With one word, an idea is delivered, and with the other, an idea is perceived. To imply refers to a speaker or writer who hints at or suggests an idea:

The waiter implied that this particular appetizer was a specialty of the house and that I should try it.

On the other hand, to infer refers to a reader or listener who perceives the meaning of an idea he or she has read or heard:

I inferred from the waiter's words that the appetizer was complimentary, but found it added to my bill.

So be careful about what your words may imply. You never know what your listener or reader will infer from them.

December Writer's Forum Question

Ah, the holiday season. It's time for the bright lights and music intended to get us through the starkness of winter. However, ever widening cultural diversity calls for sensitivity to others, and that affects our public decorations as well. Has this concern affected your office decorations? How do you decorate to observe the season without risking offense? Let us know how your office avoids discrimination in your holiday celebrations.

Devon Sinclair, a physician's assistant and clinic office manager in Boston, confronts the problem head-on:

You'll never appease everyone, but we do like to dress up the office a bit. It's terrible to be sick over the holidays, and we want to cheer up our patients whenever possible. We handled the question of diversity by just having lots of multicolored lights and glitter in the waiting room. We have only one sign, which simply says "Have a Healthy Holiday Season." Our doctors wear little battery-lit gingerbread men on their lapels for a touch of holiday whimsy. Nothing specific, but it brightens up the office and makes everyone feel festive.

Pastor Trudy Landry (Lutheran, San Francisco) looks at the holidays from another perspective:

Our office is, naturally, pretty well religiously decorated. And in the church itself we have a beautiful hand-carved wooden crèche near the pulpit, as well as a huge tree handsomely decorated. So we do emphasize the Christian aspect of the holidays--just as we do for every day. However, we also want to encourage tolerance across the nations, so we've decorated our hallway with the kids' Sunday School drawings from a lesson about other religions. Walk our halls, and you'll go past pictures of Chanukah dreidels and menorahs, Chinese fireworks exploding, and the symbols of Kwanzaa. I consider this one example of our church's commitment to peace on earth.

Debby Sheinman, an accountant in Brooklyn writes this:

We really don't decorate a lot, and since our office neighborhood and clients are mainly Jewish, what we do have leans more toward Chanukah than Christmas. Still, we want to include our non-Jewish clients, so along with the few blue and white lights, dreidels, and silver menorahs, we include a more ecumenical "Happy Holidays" banner. Our New Year's decoration, though, is the traditional "Happy New Year" banner across the front counter. Wow, we're such a wild and crazy bunch of accountants.

Keshia Harris, a nail artist in Fresno, sums it all up pretty well:

Our clients come in looking for beauty, and we want them to feel comfortable while they're being treated. We try to keep it tasteful, but we do it up right, with a pretty tree covered with tinsel and lights and ornaments. We even have a moving Santa who says "ho-ho-ho" when people walk by him. (We stick him in an out-of-the-way corner to keep him from getting too obnoxious.) And yes, we have signs that say "Happy Chanukah" and "Joyous Kwanzaa," but it's not the religious stuff we're pushing, just a little cheer and some fun. With the year we've all had, I think we deserve that.

NOTE: We agree with Keshia. Here's hoping all your holidays are cheerful and fun.

A Final Thought

For a change of pace, we decided to toast the holidays with a little poem reflecting our thoughts on this season of more.

Ode to Excess

Throughout the year we are so good
We never stray past what we should,
Denying sugar, meat, and food
In quantities imprudent.
But with the winter solstice nigh
The world calls with a merry cry,
And thoughts may stray beyond the line
Of doing what we shouldn't.

Who would deny a season's cheer,
With well-loved friends to gather near
And celebrate another year
Of love and life protected.
The pretty things that catch our eye,
The sweetest taste for which we sigh,
Foregoing "nay" and saying "aye,"
Become at once accepted.

So lift the mug that's brimming o'er
And quaff the joy of more and more!
Now open up a festive door
To life's full merry measure.
Let wrappings of prosperity
Obscure our bleak austerity,
Allowing the hilarity
Of undiluted pleasure.

We might regret the excess pounds,
The ringing ears from noisy sounds,
But still we must have joy abound
Before we are too old.
Tomorrow is for exercise,
And budgeting and being wise.
But now's the time for happy sighs--
And joy that feeds the soul.

Happy holidays to one and all, from our family to yours!

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