Kage Baker had a method for getting through the holidays without losing her mind. She did everything on a strict schedule; many portions of the holidays were things she always did, always the same way – they settled obediently into their calendar areas, and almost accomplished themselves.
The outside lights went up on the first of December; the tree went up on the 15th. Indoor deco went up all through the first 2 weeks of December, and on most weekends we went flying up I-5 to Dickens Fair. And that was so carefully choreographed a travel experience, that all that was left to surprise us were the unnatural vagaries of the highway.
Hopefully, anyway. There was always the occasional disaster du jour that we hadn’t anticipated, just to spice up some weekend with ambient insanity. Sometimes half our Inn cast forgot items of clothing, and we had to beg, borrow and swap pieces in order to get everyone dressed by Opening. One of our constant solutions for undecorated hair was crocheted doilies: we somehow had accumulated dozens of them, in lovely patterns and stitches, and many of the ladies of my household spent their days with a charming little lace beanie cunningly folded and pinned atop their curls.
Despite its atmosphere of swirling chaos – and sometimes you did feel like you might be Dorothy Gale, whisked off to Piccadilly Square instead of Oz – the Fair actually rolls along to a deep, constant, implacable rhythm. All you had to do was surrender to it, and you inevitably found yourself in the right places, at the right times. Mind you, later that night you might suddenly wake up and wonder WHY you had to be doing a line-dance with the Chimney Sweeps down the Grand Concourse – but it made for a good show.
Anyway, the only way we ever got through the mad totality of December was by clinging to the schedules we made.
Sometimes you just have to let the gods of the theatre bend you to their will.
We’re following as much as of this system as we can at Chez Bartholomew: the outside lights are proudly glowing along the porch and the iron railings of the front yard, and the living room has been gradually begun glowing with colours of ice and gems. Tomorrow the tree will be fetched in, and we’ll go thought the holiday feng shui: re-arranging the room so everyone can see the tree and the telly, and has a place to sit besides.
I’ve got to admit, not doing Dickens this year is sort of an awkward gift from God. So many of us simply wouldn’t survive it this year! But our producers, the Pattersons, have moved Heaven and Earth and produced a virtual Dickens for the delight of us all. You can go the site, wander around through many of the displays and shops that usually make up our street, and purchase (from the safety of your living room) goodies you have come to love from Dickens Fair. Try going to https://tinyurl.com/ycqcny3b and sampling whoever is on station this weekend.
Me, though, I am content to spend this winter pushing my convalescence to totality. I have defeated pneumonia, and dodged Covid-19; I can walk, I can talk, and I can even lie down for a few hours at a time. I have all manner of cunning techno toys to provide oxygen for me, from old fashioned tanks to the smallest and newest of the modern oxygen accumulators. In fact, the shoulder-bag O2 will make it possible for me to breeze in and out of a lab appointment tomorrow, almost like a normal person!
And I have twice so far had quite successful video appointments with my doctors – one by phone and one via my computer, but both clear and loud and easy to follow. I find I LOVE virtual doctors’ appointments. The doctors can even get a good look at my trach assembly, since a trach tube in one’s throat is not exactly a subtle thing … a good camera is as good as my being there sitting on a hard cold table under a spotlight. So far, anyway.
Kage would have liked a lot of this, I am sure. Having to live through the pandemic would appall her as well as fascinate her; she would absolutely love being able to see her doctor via her computer, though, rather than venturing out into the winter cold and winds.
And in the meantime, we proceed through the careful steps of Making Christmas. A small, cozy close to home Christmas for us, in our fiercely defended single household; but still a blessed time to be together, And maybe – maybe! – even safer this year than last.
Soon, soon, I will be able to work on a story for you, too, Dear Readers. We’ve carved us out a nice, safe place to spend the winter.
Dad wants me to remind you of one of those “unnatural vagaries of the highway” when you found out where the train tracks run through Petaluma and how perfectly your tires fit between them – and *later* found out that the trains weren’t running on them at the time.
That was a good one, wasn’t it? Thank you dad for me, and tell him I think of it every winter – and how wonderful it was to finally make it to his house, and have him and your mom waiting for us with drinks!