Kage Baker liked anticipation. She liked run-ups to events, the count-down to the The Day, the pre-celebration rituals to be observed. No holiday was a one-off with her.
She said it made any given holiday last longer – which it does, of course, and that is all to the best. Kage really hated to get all worked up for a given event and then have it vanish within a few hours. You wait a month or more for Christmas! It shouldn’t disappear at 9 AM December 25th; whether you are religious or secular, there is too much invested in that morning to just let it go once the wrapping is off the presents. That’s why we always celebrated until 12th Night, the traditional 12 days of Christmas. By January 6th, you’re a lot more ready to pack up the tinsel.
Kage had a real aversion to the modern habit of beginning celebration too early, though. Anticipation, yes; pre-game festivities, yes. Heck, there is a celebratory Sunday even in the middle of Advent! But Christmas is not supposed to start before Halloween is even off the stage. We went looking for some extra Halloween deco yestreday, and found Christmas wreathes and freakin’ elves in the aisles beside the decent hard-working bats and witches.
Kage used to complain, in these later decadent years, that poor Thanksgiving hardly had a chance, crunched in between Halloween and Christmas as it was – so she went out of her way to decorate for that All-American holiday: we’d take the bones and learing faces out of the Halloween wreath, leaving the bright ears of corn; we’d take down the pumpkin lights and replace them with glowing grapes and autumn leaves. Kage would bring out her carefully preserved Beistle paper cornucopies and turkeys and put them up in the windows.
Mind you, we had Beistle’s up for Halloween, too – extraordinary polychrome witches and skeletons and moons and scratch cats, flawlessly preserved and rescued from the dustbins of the past. She hadn’t gotten them when we were kids. (Though she wanted them then, and begged endlessly but futilely for the kits in the Five and Dime.) She found them decades later and ferociously hunted and acquired them on EBay and Amazon. God, she was fierce!
She resurrected all manner of deco and tradition from our childhoods like that. Sometimes it was stuff we’d actually had, like those fold-out honeycomb pumpkins. Sometimes it was stuff we hadn’t had but she had wanted (and still wanted, and would have): like the Beistle cutouts. Or Glass Wax! Someone still makes a formula very like Glass Wax, and Kage tracked down original stencils for extravagant amounts; and the last 3 years of her life, we had Christmas Glass Wax tableaux on the windows.
Kage came to the conclusion that EBay for sure, and maybe Amazon as well, were branches of Dr. Zeus Inc. What a perfect way to get treasures out into the world again! There are few questions asked if you sell your Kentish great-granny’s bone knitting needles for a few pounds to a textile nut in California. You will be well out of the paper trail in 15 years, when the faint Greek inscriptions are found on her #10’s and analysis shows the needles were carved from fresh aurochs’ bones …
Tomorrow: scary movies?