Kage Baker always relaxed by Christmas Eve. The great holiday rushes were effectively over – what hadn’t gotten done, wasn’t going to get done: the curtain was rising on the holiday inexorably, bright with lights and gaudy with tinsel, and Christmas would arrive whether we were ready or not.
So we might as well be ready. And so she always was.
Our last Christmas Eve together was a disaster movie directed by J.J. Abrams from a script by Steven King, based on a Brontean tragedy. With special effects by the Warner Brothers. Anvils and exploding rocket skates, man.
We started out comfy and safe, Kage feeling expansive in a lap robe in her armchair while I produced a really fine prime rib and Yorkshire pudding dinner … We ended up on the bathroom floor – me because I was throwing up my internal organs, and Kage because I’d dropped her and couldn’t get the strength to get her on her feet and back to bed. First we cried, then we laughed hysterically, then we crawled to a phone and called for an ambulance. We were still giggling at the absurdity of our life when the nice guys from the Fire Department came and took us to the hospital.
“Take her first!” we chorused, each pointing to the other. The EMTs ignored us and took me first, over my objections.
“My sister has cancer!” I protested.
“Yeah, but you’re having a heart attack,” they answered. This produced a cheer and a traitorous “Ha! Told you so!” from Kage in the background.
We bickered and giggled in the ambulance, and in the ER; I’m sure all the staff people thought we were insane or on drugs. But we weren’t. It’s just that when things get bad enough, you have to laugh or give up. And neither of us was willing to give up. We came close later that night, when we learned that Kage’s cancer was back, and in her brain … but we stuck together. It was still Christmas Eve, if an increasingly rotten one; and we were still together.
The readiness, as Shakespeare said, is all. We were always ready for whatever was coming; or so we thought. Kage thought so to the very end, and kept reminding me to do so also.
I’ve tried. And I’ve failed. So I’ve tried again, and again:and I guess I’ll just keep trying to get up off that bathroom floor; because, what the hell else is there to do? It’s Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day is coming. And that is a wonderful thing, certainly worth getting up off whatever floor you’ve gotten stuck on.
Dickens Fair was a wonder and delight. I am home with my family, the bird is singing weird little parrot songs to himself while the dog watches for wolves and orcs out the window; the cats are happily stoned on Christmas catnip. My family is around me and all is well.
So I wish you all the best on this night. Cling close to your loved ones and wait for the morning to come, because it really, really will. Even if you have to spend the night on the bathroom floor – hang on to whatever companion Fate has sent you, and trust to your ability to get up tomorrow. It’s much, much better to laugh through this crap than not.
A Happy Christmas to all of you, Dear Readers.