Last post's winner was Rotti mom! Send me an email at stacy @ stacydawn.com before December 31st, to claim your gift.
The Joys of the Yuletide Season
By Devon Ellington
I am kind of impossible when it comes to holidays. As far as I’m concerned, the holiday season starts on Samhain (Halloween) and goes right through until Twelfth Night, at which point Carnivale Season begins, and, well, you get the picture. I love to decorate, even though I’ve lived in apartments my whole life. Don’t worry – I’m house-hunting, and I really DO need that thirteen room Gothic Victorian house that looks like something out of It’s A Wonderful Life, because right now I’m paying more on my storage units than on rent. And no, I’m not throwing any of it out!
We always celebrate the Four Advents, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. The tradition is to put out a few decorations each Sunday, and then light the next candle on the five-candle wreath (the fifth candle is for Christmas Eve). Of course, I can’t stop decorating once I start, so I do it all on the First of Advent, and then keep adding things as I “rescue” additional items that look like they could use a good home.
Basically, it looks like a holiday truck threw up in my apartment. And that’s the way the cats and I like it.
Christmas/Yule/Solstice/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/You-Name-It-I’ll-Probably-Celebrate-It is one of my favorite times of year, and not just because I get to put up greenery and sparkling baubles (ooh, shiny! I’m worse than the cats), and pull out all the decorations that have stories behind them. Every piece in the house has its own story, and we tell those stories every year, like a kind of living history.
I also love the holidays because they are about light returning in the darkest hour, and about hope. In these trying times, that’s so important. It’s about making wishes come true, whether it’s a wish for snow for Christmas, or a new coat for a family member when you’re broke and on the street, or a wish for world peace, it’s a time for miracles, for possibilities, a time when anything can happen.
I’ve always been intrigued by tales spun specifically for this season. My ultimate fantasy is to get my act together to create a new story just for family and friends, print it beautifully, and give it as a gift each year. I have yet to be organized enough to start early enough to accomplish this. But it’s a nice fantasy. May Sarton used to write a Christmas poem for her family and friends. I love the idea of it, because we all love home-made gifts, and what’s more home-made than a tale from our own brains?
In any case, as I think about my characters, I wonder who would fit well in a Christmas/Yule/holiday-themed story, and for what would they wish? I took a poll earlier this autumn, and one of the top contenders was Aunt Doris and her much-younger Italian boyfriend about whom I’ve written about in the linked stories set in Congress Corners under the Ava Dunne name. Aunt Doris would wish for additional years on her life (although she’s not going anywhere for quite awhile), and Cassio wishes Aunt Doris would stop worrying about their age difference! Nina Bell, my protagonist from the serial Tapestry, the impulsive young woman living in 1990’s East Village, trying to survive a life in the arts as NYC begins its latest cycle of gentrification, got quite a few votes, too. In fact, we dealt with the holidays over several episodes of the series. Her desire to connect contrasted with her fear of being hurt make her an interesting character to dump into a holiday situation. She wishes for True Love, yet she’s notorious for sabotaging the Real Thing when it comes along and falling for The Wrong Thing. Perhaps she needs a sexy guardian angel to set her straight?
Most of the historical characters wouldn’t work, if they lived in a time where these holidays weren’t yet actively celebrated. Captain Kit Erskine and the characters of “The Merry’s Dalliance” could celebrate the holidays because they live in magical fantasy world, and I can have them celebrate any holiday that I wish! But Cutthroat Charlotte, who sailed the seas in the time prior to the American Revolution, would not have had a Christmas tree on the ship!
Jain Lazarus, my protagonist from HEX BREAKER and “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” poses some interesting dilemmas. She’s tough and fast-talking, yet also quite vulnerable. How would Jain celebrate the holidays? With hand-made and handed down objects, I imagine, although she might not have many of them. Unlike her creator, she is both tidy and not a hoarder. For what would Jain wish? Peace, on every level, not admitting that she wishes for love for herself. Wyatt stopped celebrating the holidays, for the most part, after his family was killed. He wishes people well, but doesn’t engage beyond that. He hasn’t allowed himself a genuine wish in a long time, so now’s the time to start. Billy Root is big on the holidays. That’s when he lets his inner child, never too far from the surface anyway, come out full throttle to play. Billy wishes everyone could be happy, warm, well-fed and well-loved over the season.
Although I’ve got a New Year’s tale planned for Jain this year rather than a Christmas one, mulling it over for this post excites me to the opportunity of exploring Christmas with Jain, Wyatt, Billy . . .and some paranormal entity who’s got its own agenda! Stay tuned . . . :;)
I've got a CD of HEX BREAKER to give away, as well as signed manuscript copies of both TOO MUCH MISTLETOE and THE RAMSEY CHASE. So leave a comment and we'll be picking names!
And my wish for all of you is for a joyful season and may we move into the New Year with joy, health, and friendship.
Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Visit her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee: http://devonellington.wordpress.com/, Hex Breaker, the site for the Jain Lazarus Adventures: http://hexbreaker.devonellingtonwork.com/, and her main Devon Ellington website, http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/