Kage Baker loved Christmas Eve. All the last minute fooferah and deco, the stockings, the last presents trotted out to tantalize for a few hours … as often as possible, a fire lit and candles everywhere; no electricity, except what was necessary to light the tree.
Due to the exigencies of still having two separate households to visit on Christmas Day, we always had our formal holiday dinner on Christmas eve. So the household was also replete with the perfumes of roasting beef, baking Yorkshire pudding, boiling plum pudding – which were then digested in happy comas until midnight, when we would exchange presents. We’d ooh and ahh and giggle over whatever we’d bought one another, and then stagger off to bed for a few hours sleep before it was time to go wake up our sisters’ households.
There are few things I love more about Christmas than the memories of lounging around before our living room fire, nibbling plum pudding in the blinking coloured light from the Christmas tree. Or getting up at 3AM, in order to drive through the paling night so we could get to our families’ houses by dawn – the idea being, the crazy aunties would wake up the kids still abed, the little sluggards, and ring chaos in with the holiday morning.
I still can’t sleep late on Christmas morning. These days, though, I wake up, register that The Day has indeed come, pray my thanks and roll over and go back to sleep for a few hours. All the holiday lights will still be blinking softly, their tiny chimes sounding in the silent house, because we leave them on all night on Christmas Eve – you must leave lights burning, you see, so the sun knows to come back. Otherwise, all you get on Christmas Day is a big ball of burning gas in the sky, when what you need is the newborn spirit of Light spilling over the curve of the world …
It’s been a rough year and a rotten day here at my house. Better than last year, by a very great deal – but still hard, and most of that unexpected. We have avoided the plagues rampaging all around. But no one feels well anyway; my continuing slow return to good health has been slowed to a crawl the last few weeks and I am afraid my present-wrapping will be sparse indeed. My family must be content with the fact that we have presents at all – and they are, and we all will be, because everyone is exhausted and ill and so we are taking considerable comfort in what we have that so many other people do not.
It can be hard some years to avoid the black tide of depression at Christmas. But it’s gotten no higher than my knees this year, and I know I can keep my head above the waters until daylight now.
We have a warm house and we are all together, Kimberly, Michael and I. No-one can find the stockings, but we have sweeties to put in whatever surrogates Kimberly comes up with to use. There is a prime rib in the refrigerator, a new splendid pan for Yorkshire pudding, all manner of trimmings and garnishes for the feast; there will be pie. We are damned lucky and we know it. We may be worn out and on our last nerves, but we are at home together.
I wish you all a warm Christmas Day with someone you really love, Dear Readers; maybe something nice to eat, or at least a candy cane or two. May you only get socks if you want them. May the Light of the new day fill your hearts and homes.