Kage Baker referred to December 23rd this way; she got it from me, I fear. It can be carried to as absurd an extreme as one would like, until you find yourself referencing an endless chain of Christmas Eves, all the way back through Halloween and Harvest Home.
And it can be very comforting to begin the Yuletide celebrations early, in a particularly bad year – as 2020 most certainly has been, and seems determined to continue to be until the Old Year murders it with that scythe of his. Of course, you have to know in advance when to start the recursive mirror-reflection count down to get the best effect, and it isn’t usually easy. We probably should have realized back in March that 2020 was going to be No. 5 with a bullet on the fecal roster – but most of us didn’t.
Those that did were assured by their friends and family that they were just being paranoid – how bad could it get, really? Man, were we in for a series of nasty surprises. Kage would be shaking her head in professional gloom, she being naturally of a dour temperament and therefore unlikely to be surprised at the really amazing obnoxious tenacity of this year. Oh, we need a little Christmas indeed, right this very minute: and Kage just hated having to break into show tunes for the background music.
December has always been been the very worst month for me. Most of the people I have loved, who have died, have done so during the month of December. This very day, the 23rd, is the anniversary of my favourite grandfather’s death. My mother died on the 15th, my father, 20 years later less a day, on the 14th. These are memories which tend to sneak up on me during tree-trimming and present wrapping. Pets, friends, two lovers – my beloveds really tend to kick the old jam jar during the ultimate month of the calendar. It’s always cast a decided pall over the whole thing for me’ hence the buck-and-wing view of the run-up to Christmas as a series of nesting-doll Eves.
Backing up really improves the view, Dear Readers.
This is not to say I am sitting here, marinating in grief like a poor-quality tea. I love this season, I wouldn’t give up my memories of my beloved dead for anything. I just wish they were balanced a bit more evenly around the year. After a year like this last one – with the President leaving sticky, flaming fingerprints all over the government, with my own health varying from barely breathing to panting like a grampus, with my very hair falling out and my feet swollen like bread dough every day and a keg pump set up down my throat – it’s a little hard to stave off the blue demons and stay cheerful.
But I am managing. After all, it is Christmas that is glowing and glittering on the horizon, no minor festivity! I am home, with my beloved family, and we can celebrate the glorious day together as it comes round. It will be wonderful.
And after all, another thing to remember is that one of the nicest things Kage ever did for me was NOT to die in December. I have memories of her unshadowed by grief or loss. She’d slap me upside the head, too, if I tried to build a mausoleum on her memory. What a waste of Christmas Eve Eve! she would cry.
And so it would be. And so I won’t.