Yes, I know it’s a little early, but Christmas falls on a Friday this year and I post to Café Risque on a Saturday, so this is my last chance I get to tell you all Merry Christmas.
(Side issue – I recently read that you get skewered in New York by wishing people a Merry Christmas. That’s insane. The day is called Christmas, for better, for worse. Just like the Equinox is the Equinox, New Year’s Day is New Year’s Day, and so on. To be merry, in Australia, it actually means to get drunk. So I’m actually saying that I hope you have a good time getting drunk on the 25th of December. It has nothing to do with worshipping Jesus.)
So I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, whatever the tradition of the day is to you.
I am the youngest of nine children. My parents we both Baptists, but for different reasons, the church rejected them in the late 60s and early 70s. We kids grew up without a religious background, and to us, Christmas was about family getting together and lots of presents. Dad was self-employed, and Christmas Day was one of the 3 days a year he didn’t have to work (along with New Year’s Day and Good Friday).
Interestingly enough, two of us nine kids have taken up religion. My sister is now Catholic for most part (to get her kids into a Catholic school) and I’m Anglican.
So to me, Christmas Day is a balancing act. I have to balance my own religious beliefs with the celebrations of my family and my husband’s family.
No matter what religion you are, Christmas is going to be a big deal for you. It may just be the day you say, “Damn, the local coffee shop is closed and I can’t get caffeinated,” or it may be the day you say, “Well, it’s breakfast at Mum’s, then lunch at Nan’s house, and then we have to rush over to Greg’s mum’s house for dinner…”
It is not surprising then that Christmas pops up in a few of my books. It is a big day, and it will mean something to the characters.
In The Blinding Light, Christmas is a big deal to both characters. Patrick, who is blind and orphaned, has not shared a Christmas Day with someone else in years. His Christmases have been extremely lonely. I’m not quite sure what Patrick was thinking on Christmas Day (as the book is from Jake’s POV) but I think he was so in love with Jake that he would’ve stood naked on the corner and whistled a dandy tune if that is what Jake wanted him to do. I also got the feeling that Patrick had to stop himself from buying many gifts for Jake. He managed to sneak in one large expensive present, claiming it was for his own benefit that Jake had an iPad, but he would’ve bought a whole bunch more if he didn’t know that Jake would flay him alive for it.
Jake, however, was in his element. Jake is the organiser. For him, getting decorations up, buying and wrapping presents, planning Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner, making sure his family were all ready… Jake sparkles at Christmas time. In the story, Jake doesn’t have much money, but he manages to find presents that mean something to his loved ones. He is thoughtful and cares about them, and so wants Christmas to be special.
I think this is where people who are truly loving and compassionate are shown. They think about it and give a present that is meaningful to the other.
There are people I know who give large, expensive presents “to be the best.” They are the Big Present Givers. Grandparents who want to outdo the other set of grandparents in the gift-giving stakes. Or parents who want their children to be able to brag to the other children. A sub-category of the Big Present Giver is the Guilty Present Giver. They don’t give large expensive presents for show, but more to alleviate their own guilt about something.
On the heels of the Big Present Givers and the Guilty Present Givers is the Selfish Present Givers. They are the ones who find presents they love, and gift them, no matter who the recipient is. You know the type: “Oh, I know you’re allergic to peanuts, but I just love the latest gadget to make peanut butter. I have it at home and it’s so good, I just knew you would love it too if you try it.”
Christmas is also mentioned in Safe in His Arms. My characters (the author said proudly) are thoughtful. Casey doesn’t have much in the way of money, but he gives Lon a present from the heart. Okay – he’s a bit selfish too, but he’s only 19 and still maturing, but a photograph of the two of them was nice, even if Casey wanted it to replace who he thought was an old boyfriend on Lon’s wall.
Lon, on the other hand, is deeply thoughtful. He reached down into the heart of Casey’s problems and bought him something deeply personal. Oh, yes. And in a typical man’s fashion, he tried to solve Casey’s problems at the same time, but the present was all about Casey.
In The Shearing Gun, we don’t get to see Christmas, but Hank makes plans for Elliot to still be around then. It’s a big deal for him.
(Side issue – did you know I wrote a short follow-up story about Hank and Elliot? It’s Christmas time-ish. Find it here: http://renaekaye.weebly.com/free-extra-scene.html).
Christmas is a time to celebrate. Whether it be celebrating the birth of Jesus, or celebrating with our families, I think celebration should be compulsory on this day. You may like to celebrate one more year of being sober, or cancer-free. You may like to celebrate the life of one recently lost. You may like to celebrate one more year that you’re still sane.
For me, sometimes I have to grit my teeth when I’m around my family. There are those who have different opinions than mine, and those who don’t always treat me well. Sometimes I have to listen to the same old tired stories. But Christmas is about celebrating our loved ones – and no matter how much they drive me bonkers, I love my family.
So Merry Christmas. I will be celebrating the day. So I hope you have a nice merry one. And from all of my characters, a very Merry Christmas too. From all the ones you’ve loved and embraced, the ones you weren’t so sure of, and the ones created but you haven’t met yet – Merry Christmas.
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