Kage Baker felt that the first few days of any new year were a huge let down. All the wonderful madness of Christmas built up over weeks and weeks; the tide carried one right up to New Year’s Day and over the calendrical hump in a wash of tinsel and leftover cookies.
Where one was abandoned. Worse, one had to go back to school or to work, and somehow believe that the new toy or blouse or whatever made up for floating belly-up in the backwater of Winter. About the only thing that got Kage through the first week was games. Especially pirate games, where she could shoot things, and cheer madly in the sword battles she convinced me to fight for her …
Oh, and writing. Eventually, Kage got into the habit of starting a new story right after New Year. That kept her alert and involved enough to – well, do just about anything but writing. Shooting cannons, especially.
Luckily, we always celebrated Christmas right through 12th Night. As you have heard me pontificate before, Dear Readers, the famed 12 Days of Christmas do not end on December 25th: that’s when they begin. They then run until the Epiphany on January 6th, which is a last, grand blowout until Imbolc, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ weekend.
That lets you down a little easier. It gives you a reminder to take down the Christmas lights before the neighbors get up a petition. And, in Kage’s firm belief, it provided an opportunity to give people the presents that had slipped down under the desk while you were frantically wrapping on Christmas Eve.
The Aztecs, you know, reserved an entire block of days at the end of each year, to provide a bumper between one year and the next. Those 5 days or so just didn’t exist – and since they were also extremely bad luck, most people did as little as possible. What they did do wasn’t counted. Unless you committed some blasphemy, in which case the gods were always thirsty … but even then, you probably had to wait until the government opened again and could get around to peeling your skin off for the greater glory of the goddess of Spring.
Not much has really changed since the ancients, you know?
Anyway, we are now in that quiet place where the New Year hasn’t really begun. It’s a few nights yet until 12th Night, and by then the stuff I ordered but which has not yet arrived may actually be delivered. I’m down to the chocolate coins and apple butter from my stocking, and with luck the batteries will last a few more days in the insanely-blinking varicoloured epilepsy lights strung on my desk. The nephew is still playing his new computer game, and Kimberly is working her way through her half-dozen new hedgehog socks. Everyone is marking imaginary time.
And I am back on the old soap box, filling this annual Dead Zone with my own version of hope. It’s mainly just stumbling on until the grey blur ahead resolves into an actual light at the end of the tunnel: but hey, that works. As long as we all get there, all will be well.
It’s much nicer to stumble on in good company, anyway: until we reach that fresh new point where everything we do counts again.