Tides of Christmas

So….

Once again, life conspired to get in my way.  Well, sort of.  In the real world, I entered into a little venture to cut my own firewood.  After a few days of ascending to 11,000 feet (or about 3350 meters) to cut down fire-charred fir trees for wood, I have a hefty appreciation of what our ancestors must have gone through.  And they didn’t have chainsaws or trailers to haul it in.

And then there was that NaNoWriMo thing.  I did it, successfully, which makes me three for three in NaNoWriMo attempts.  Rather than start something new, I tacked 51K words onto Princess of the North.

(Muse:  Yeah good of you to not start something *else* new and leave it unfinished.)

Quiet, you.  That puts me closer to my goal of finishing the first draft by the end of the year.

That rolls us right into the holiday season (for us Western-civ types).  I personally love Thanksgiving; what can be wrong with a holiday where the whole point is to enjoy family and eat yourself into a food coma?  I am less keen on Christmas.  Take your pick:  over-commercialized, pressure of buying stuff, hassle of decorating, I think the Grinch was the victim of brainwashing in his story, etc.

But it does bring up an important subject to consider in our writing and that is of holidays.  I think they are pretty universal in human culture and civilization – if not for the same reasons across culture, then by presence.  Longest days of summer, first day of winter, anniversary of an important event….  These are all big events for a culture and as such, should be celebrated.

I see a lot of proxy holidays in spec fiction, such as birthdays being referred to as “Life Days,” or “Day of Birth” celebrations.  I would like to see some more examples of non-Earth equivalent holidays in writing or to have them celebrated in such a way that we don’t expect.  Perhaps on a given world, on the character’s birthday, they perform small acts of kindness or give gifts to all the important people in their life, rather than vice versa.  Perhaps on that world, the character shows their appreciation and thanks on the anniversary of their birth rather than being showered in presents.

Perhaps on the anniversary of the ending of a grueling war, the citizens all stay home and make whoopie, to celebrate the surge of birthing that occurred after the war.  Or maybe in celebration of a monarch assuming the throne, that monarch rides through the streets handing out coins and presides over games as a way to thank his citizens for upholding his/her rulership.  Or on the first day of summer just as the sun descends over a far mountain peak, the locals all go into the field together with onions tied on their belts and sing off-key until their deity descends and grants them a good harvest.

The side-effect of having a different set of holidays for your milieu – and I know I beat this drum a lot – is adding a touch of unique flavor to the background of your world.  Among spec fiction, fantasy is especially about escape.  So why not actually escape to a world we don’t know?  Of course, being who I am, I read the examples I laid out above and my brain starts plotting all the bad things that could befall my characters during those events.  But I digress.

Endless possibilities here and some that could be more entertaining than the traditional birthday/yule/new-year’s stand-ins I see so often.  I know, I am as guilty as anyone but here’s to being more aware for my own part.

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