Kage Baker loved Christmas Eve. Things were mostly all ready by then, and anything that wasn’t was under the Blessed Inevitability Spell: no matter what, the next day was Showtime! So it was, by definition and happy default, DONE.
Usually, by the time it was dark and all the lights were lit, each of us took turns sneaking into our rooms and stuffing the other’s stocking. Those would be hung on the mantle with bits and bobs sticking tantalizingly out the top – just to drive the recipient nuts when she had to wait to open it. Kage was very satisfyingly crazed about it, too. leaping around and examining the goodies from every side, moaning with impatience – she was scrupulously honest, though, and would never peek. But her carrying on was hilarious, as was her gloating when I was peering and moaning at my stocking.
I know, I know, two grown women whose shared childhood was long gone – but we kept the tradition, mostly because I couldn’t bear to give up my Christmas stocking when I first left home. I was the first to fly the nest – Kage joined me later, and by that time I was set in a few ways … but Kimberly kept it, too, and her family still fills stockings. Everybody takes different pieces of childhood along with them, don’t they?
Kage and I opened presents at Midnight on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, it was off to the family celebration – but the night before was our private party. It made Christmas last twice as long!
I was up not long after dawn this morning, and Kimberly and I went off to secure bagels and trimmings for Christmas breakfast – a newer, but delicious tradition. (One of the best things about moving back to L.A. has been having access to decent bagels again; but if you want them for Christmas morning, you’ve got to buy them early on Christmas Eve.) It was freezing in Los Angeles last night: literally. Ice on the car roofs, the grass white and stiff on the lawn, the air new-minted and imported from the deeps of interstellar space; cold Cold COLD. There were frost ferns on the windows.
To Kimberly, this might as well be an advancing glacier coming down from Griffith Park – it’s unnatural. But to me, who has spent half my life now well North of Point Conception, it’s wonderful. This is what winter should be like! And once the car had warmed up and her ears thawed, Kimberly admitted it was pretty neat. It was worth braving the frost, because we got our fresh bagels and lox and cream cheese, and have them stashed for the morning.
Now it’s getting dark. I’ve lolled about and wrapped presents and read Hogfather (my personal favourite Yuletide story) and things are coming along well. Tonight we’ll have fish for dinner, just to make tomorrow’s ginormous classic beef roast taste all the richer.
The lights are all lit, from the tiny weird plastic tree plugged into my UCB hub to the long strands of blue and white lights simulating frost outside in the mulberry tree. The folks across the street have lit some sort of fantastic wheel-shaped lights they brought from the Philippines: they whirl and change colour and practically hiss. I think they’re intended to keep off demons or induce epilepsy. Presents are piling up on the bed, wrapped and ribboned – Harry is guarding the pile of unwrapped ones hidden under the pillows, and watching the ribbons dance with wise pirate-gold eyes …
It’s a pretty good Christmas Eve. Gonna be a good Christmas, too. None but happy memories are welcome tonight … I hope all of you, Dear Readers, likewise have a warm, good, loving holiday. Hug your loved ones close, with arms or with memory. Leave all the lights on tonight, and guide the sun home in the morning.