Kage Baker liked this time of the Christmas season; it was peaceful, she said, between the first burst of decorating and the mad whirl of Christmas Eve and The Day Itself.
Right now, she could sit at her desk in the light of our living room candles, and the outdoor lights around the window; coruscating rainbows sliding over every polished surface in the room. She got an enormous kick out of typing literally through the reflections of the coloured lights in her monitor screen. She was energized by the lights on our trees, and the growing pile of presents that accumulated through December. We had a mess of relatives between us, and the pile of goodies under our tree was impressive until we ran out on Christmas Morning to deliver them.
Kage was not much into snowmen, elves, Rudolph or Olive or penguins. She did like the Coca Cola polar bears, but that was because she was a devotee of Coke. She only put up with the reindeer because she venerated stags as a winter symbol – she was rather horrified when I explained to her (in my pedantic way) that only female reindeer kept their antlers through the winter, and therefore all of Santa Claus’ team were girls.
She absolutely loathed Santa Claus – the American one, anyway, regardless of Thomas Nast. Kage liked the British Father Christmas, the Russian Grandfather Frost, the Hogfather … authoritative father figures in red leather and white fur, who understood that in the end it all comes down to blood on the snow …
But for all these middle nights between the hysterical onset of the season, and the sheer frenzy of Christmas Day itself, Kage floated comfortably on momentum. She was terribly organized when it came to getting presents; and we had Dickens Fair down to a science, so the weekly journey up and down I-5 was automatic and almost easy. She wrote a lot during the Christmas season, though it was never about Christmas – she tended to write Christmas stories in October, for some reason. But it was no off season for her; she wrote every day and night.
I myself was always pretty busy during this time: I was the one who could drive, and run the Inn, and wrap presents (Kage was an awful present-wrapper, and so I wrapped all her gifts to everyone but myself). I actually lost weight at Christmas, from all the running around we had to do.
This year, though, the weight of the holiday is just too much for me. There is no Dickens Fair, alas, due to the pandemic – but that does prevent me from killing myself trying to work the event in my diminished state. I too am coasting along on momentum this year, and I pray every day that the energy will get me alive through the darkest heart of winter … and part of that, Dear Readers, is forcing myself to write again. I really have been slacking.
I am breathing better; not well, but better. I now have a floor model oxygen accumulator for the house, a portable one for doctor visits, and tanks of oxygen for staggering around the house; I may be on oxygen for the rest of my life, but I am managing it with relative ease and comfort. My dear friend Cynthia sent me a gorgeous little bicycle horn this week (Thank you so much, Cynthia!) and I hung it on my oxygen caddy. I can summon help from anywhere in the house with a discreet Aaooga. It makes Harry squeak, but I think he likes it.
I can talk, though I am hoarse and gravelly. I cannot sing, but I do it anyway: my pulmonologist says it’s good therapy. I can barely laugh, but I do anyway because – well, you just HAVE to, don’t you? It makes me cough until I tear up, but I cannot cry – the mechanism of sobbing is beyond the current working abilities of my throat, as it’s less than half its normal width due to the tracheotomy tube still in my throat. But the news of the world has been better every day, so who needs to cry? I’ll happily put up with coughing for the chance to laugh.
I am confined to the house, unless I absolutely must see one of my doctors. But they very much do NOT want me running around in the Los Angeles pandemic, so all my recent visits have been virtual. Which is sort of entertaining. In fact, my cardiologist called me today to specifically forbid me to leave the house for at least the next fortnight: despite all my ill health, I have not tested positive for COVID-19, and no one wants me to chance it. Kimberly and Michael go out only on vital missions, masked and gloved. Mostly we all three are snugged down in our little house with all our beasties, who really seem to prefer it that we not go anywhere anyway.
Hopefully, I will be able to keep up the writing for a bit now. I am better, and it might be easier to enter back into life from this quiet space and place. You’ve all been so patient, Dear Readers.
I really am glad to be coming (slowly) back ….