Kage Baker believed that the essence of the Winter holiday was home. And light. No matter what you call it, or why, the heart of it is to get as close to home as you can manage; and cherish that home and all it holds. And to light a light in the darkness.
One light or a thousand, real or symbolic, chaste white imitation stars or a cheerful vulgar riot of colours and inflatable cartoon characters: it doesn’t matter. The light itself is all that matters.
We used to pass Mission St. Michael on the way home from Dickens Fair, zooming past on Highway 101 in the last stretch before making it home to Pismo Beach. In the old adobe farm building by the dark Mission, one candle would burn in a single upstairs window: a tiny beacon in the darkness, but in the infinite night under which we sped toward home, it blazed like a supernova. Kage watched for it. She said when she could see that solitary light, she knew the sun would come back.
My house is a blaze of lights tonight. And they will burn all night; it’s the tradition with us, the lights burn all Christmas Eve night, until the sun strikes in the east-facing windows at dawn. I’m typing this by the light of the tiny strings on my desk – which are so bright, I don’t need lamp light. And they’re blinky lights, too.
We’re down to debating dinner now – pizza or pot pies? Or breakfast from McDonald’s? Ease and indulgence are the goals here; the real feast is tomorrow, when all the roast beef of Olde England makes its appearance and I try to remember how many eggs go in the Yorkshire pudding. Of course, Yorkshire pudding is such that even the year we forgot ’em entirely, it was good … the secret is using beef drippings, and having actual Yorkshire pudding pans. And making them in the kitchen with your sister, giggling and shrieking over the surprises of meal prep, while the cats sit and watch the glass window in the oven like it’s Star Wars.
Whatever your lights are, Dear Readers, light them up tonight! Even if all you can locate are the leftover Jack O’Lantern candles, get them out and light a spark to remind the sun to come home. Share whatever you have for dinner, to remind sufficiency to come home. Fetch lap robes and blankets to one another, to remind warmth to come home.
Here’s a holiday card for all of you, Dear Readers and dear people: the original lights, the original home. The beauty in which we dwell, the bastion and ramparts of light and life in the -almost! Only almost! – overwhelming night.
This is the supercluster of galaxies of which our own is a part., called Laniakea – “immeasurable heavens”. Look at it all! We’re a lit candle on a Tree made of Light, a gem in a strand of the Goddess’ hair! And we are none of us alone.
Merry solar festival of your heart’s choice, all. Holy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hogswatch and a Good Yule to everyone.
We’re all at home tonight.