Kage Baker loved Christmas. No matter how huge or small or poor or lavishly funded or weekend-ish or all the time she wanted after retirement: it was the season she loved best.
It’s dear to me as well. As are all of you, Dear Readers. This is why I am resuming my bloggery tonight, Christmas night, of all the good old nights in the good old world (to misquote Charles Dickens slightly), returning to my old place on the splintery soap box in the dark square of my life. A Happy Christmas to you all, whoever is out there listening for me in the winter night!
Kage spent her adult life hunting down and resurrecting the holiday goodies she had loved best as a child: EBay was a circle of Heaven, for Kage. She had a wide fund of mental treasure that she tracked down relentlessly – Beistle cardboard cutouts, Glasswax and its accompanying stencils, real lead foil tinsel. (Great stuff, that – you could melt it down and recast it as anything you could find a mold for, while burning interesting holes in the kitchen table.) Blown glass German ornaments – weird unearthly birds, pickles and plums and pamplamousse, elfin horns of every shape and colour.
Her ornament collection was amazing. She had a squirrel, a hedgehog, a stag; a lighthouse, a hot air balloon, a roadster. She had lilies and roses and holly and ivy; she had a peach, an ice cream soda (with straw), a whole tiny village of adamantine houses and an entire galaxy of stars, comets and moons. All of them were silvered glass, painted in jewel colours, and over the 40-odd years she collected them, she never broke but one. Kage did not break things.
This has been a hard Christmas for me, Dear Readers. Harder still for my sister Kimberly, and my nephew Michael – the first since my brother-in-law, Ray, died. The first holiday season is the hardest, in my experience; they don’t ever actually improve, mind you, but they do get less ghastly as time goes by. That first one is a right bitch, though. Missing Ray, I miss all my other beloved dead anew; almost everyone I’ve loved has died in December, which decks my personal halls with ghosts.
Kage politely did not die in December; but it was on Christmas Eve when we discovered she had a tumour in her brain. Ray didn’t die in December, either, but this was the first one without him – for Kimberly, the first in more than 30 years. For Michael, the first in his whole life.
We did what we could, though. And we pulled off a damn good Christmas, too.
We’ve filled the living room with lights. They flicker, strobe, blink and communicate with passing aliens, for all I know; what I am sure of is that they are beautiful and the house glows like a forge making rainbows. Last night, we walked down the driveway to view the whole effect of the house and the yard. And while we stood there in the sweet cold storm-perfumed night, voices from the church down the street began to sing: Oh, Holy night, the stars are brightly shining …the hand of God was on our shoulders.
We have a totally rad electric fire in the fireplace (Kimberly loves a fire, but not to the point of contributing to smog in this Valley of the Smokes), and it not only flickers and glows, but casts convincing faux flame images on the back of the fireplace. And it’s a lusty space heater, as well, so we are warm and the little black cat can curl up in front of the fire with no danger of getting sparks in her fur. Not that that eventuality would stop her …
We had presents and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. True, the hot grease in the Yorkshire pudding tins filled the house with smoke, but that’s a risk you have to take with traditional Christmas foods: they can catch fire. The resulting Yorkshire pudding was perfect, despite the rifts and rafts of beef-scented smoke. The prime rib was downright sacramental.
We have spent days watching old seasonal movies (and Dr. Who, tonight), secure in one another’s company. It’s been Family Time, as deep and sweet as whipped cream, and we’ve made it work. Everyone is pretty content right now, as we watch Dr. Who riding in Santa’s sleigh and debate whether or not anyone will have room for dessert …
And I am back. The season has been hard, but it’s peaked now with no new horrors. My health sucks more each day, but I am still alive and moderately mobile. Sorrow has visited us, but – well, it does that, doesn’t it? Part of the price of being alive, I think.
Oh, and I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, with 53,000 words to my credit. That’s about half a novel. I shall finish it after the New Year, now that I have wrestled it into submission.
And I will be back writing this blog. I have some amazing things to tell you, Dear Readers!