Winter Solstice Ramblings
Here it is, December 20th, which is, according to the Mayan calendar, the day before the end of the world.
I’d love to use the “end of the world” theory during tonight’s seasonal shift at Target. “Come on, these sweaters don’t need to be folded; no one will be here to buy them tomorrow.” If I try that theory on my supervisor, end of the world or not, I won’t be around for tomorrow’s shift.
It’s a shame how this year the Winter Solstice receives a bum rap. Is it a length issue? Naw, the Winter Solstice is always the shortest day of the year. I find it hard to believe after December 21st, the days grow longer, probably because they also grow colder. No, the pesky Mayan calendar blames 2012’s Winter Solstice for being the end of the world.
Come on, everyone loves the Winter Solstice. The Christian Church loved the Winter Solstice to the point they made sure they placed Christmas on the Roman Winter Solstice, which, according to 45BC’s Julian calendar, fell on December 25th. The Romans weren’t happy with merely conquering irritated “pagan” tribes and angry barbarians; they wanted to conquer the calendar. So what if the ignorant pagans had designed monuments which celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 21 or 22. The Romans dismissed the problem. They had a tendency to dismiss, eh?
Gee, think it’s a coincidence Christmas is on December 25 and a week later the New Year begins? Nope. Even back then they wanted an excuse to kick back for a week.
The reality is, before the Christians stole the Winter Solstice’s short thunder, Northern European people partied hard. The Winter Solstice sounded the survival alarm. No more fooling around! Peasants feared their livestock wouldn’t survive the grueling weather; they slaughtered the animals to make sure the family survived the grueling weather. Back in the day this was not a good time to be a vegetarian. The wine had fermented, that is if a peasant could afford wine. The Winter Solstice encouraged people to throw a party celebrating life. Once the party ended, the frightened masses hunkered down to pray they survived the harsh winter months.
As I said, ancient monuments monitor the Winter Solstice. The magnificent Newgrange tomb in Ireland’s Boyne Valley registers the Winter Solstice sunrise. If you can’t attend the Winter Solstice in person, the tour guides will recreate the event for you. The event is a damned impressive experience. In Salisbury, England, Stonehenge records the Winter Solstice sunset. I bet the Druids had ways of telling each other about each event using their mystical hotline. “Ranith, Winter Solstice is a go. I repeat, Winter Solstice is a go.”
“Roger that, Holly. I’ll let you know when we reach Winter Solstice’s end.”
The Winter Solstice is celebrated across the world, from Africa to China. This is a serious multi-cultural event. People celebrate the shortest day of the year knowing the days now become longer. There’s hope.
I won’t mention how the “Christmas” tree, the “Yule” log, mistletoe, ivy and pine greens are holdouts from well before Christianity borrowed the Winter Solstice. Oh wait, I did mention them.
Hey, why not? Regarding the potent Winter Solstice, it’s always good to hedge the bets and embrace the ancient customs. Certain customs remain viable for a reason. Even in this modern time of electricity and seemingly endless power, deep inside everyone a primordial speck celebrates when the days grow longer. The Sun has escaped from the Black God to grow stronger again. The year’s Spring crops will grow. Basic and beautiful.
I refuse to believe the world will end on such a celebrated day. The Druids won’t let it happen. In fact, there’s probably a rumble between the Mayans and the Druids taking place to make sure there’s no misunderstanding.
No matter how you celebrate the season, hope it’s a happy one!
Which leads me to my latest novel “Cupid Knows Best”. Yep, I succumbed. The novel contains a Christmas story.
Here is the excerpt!
When it comes to his professional life, photographer Carl Conrad is at the top of his game. He molds impressionable minds at university by day and jets off to Paris for gallery showings on long weekends. Unfortunately, he pays for it with his disastrous personal life: Carl kicked his boyfriend to the curb after one too many punches, so now it's just him and his hamsters, one of which he suspects may be a space alien.
Then Cupid takes pity on Carl and hits him where it hurts. It takes Carl all of three seconds to fall head over heels in lust with set design student Marcelino Moya, despite the man’s questionable—okay, deplorable—fashion sense. Convincing Marcelino to give him a chance is the hard part, but Carl is up for the challenge, pun definitely intended.
Marcelino plays hard to get, but he isn't immune to Carl's charms. Carl talks him around to dinner, dating, and eventually moving in. There's just one tiny word standing between Carl and perfect happiness. Why won't Marcelino say the “L” word?
I massaged Marcel’s thigh and kissed his forehead. “You created a wonderful party, lover.”
“You really did, Marcelino. Here’s to the return of playful gatherings. You inspire me to drag my sad ass out of my doldrums and throw a private party at the gallery.” Hindy turned and kissed Tim’s cheek. “What am I saying? My fair Tim drags me out in quite an efficient manner.”
Tim fluttered and blushed. “See, I’m stronger than I look.” They kissed in hotter commitment.
How cute. Tim recovered from his near swoon and relaxed back. His fingers curled in Hindy’s hair. I adored how Tim had succumbed to Hindy’s elegant worship.
After he recovered, Tim pointed at our tree. “Marcelino, the tree is delightful. I’ve been meaning to say something all evening.”
“Thanks. When Carl told me he never bothered with a tree anymore, I straightened him, well, you know what I mean, out on the problem. This holiday fiend needs a tree to celebrate the festive season.”
“Of course clever Marcel created our flamboyant rainbow tree.” My witty planner had purchased simple glass ornaments in rainbow colors and artfully arranged them in zigzag waves across the blue spruce. The compact tree’s rounded bulk dominated the room’s right window corner. “I love the sight. I never realized how I missed having a tree.” I stood and bowed toward my guests. “Anyone want more wine?”
Agreements filled the air. I brought an open bottle of pinot grigio and a bottle of Malbec to the coffee table. “Have fun.”
Hindy huffed in annoyance. “Marcelino, when will you properly train this rude beast?”
“Carl isn’t too bad. He’s just a little undomesticated.”
I returned to my cuddle against Marcel. “Why should I bother? You look after me so well I feel content to drift along.”
“That’s not true. I noticed someone has learned how to empty the dishwasher, and no lie, Carl even uses the vacuum cleaner.”
“What a miracle! Dearest, I salute you for transforming Carl.”
“Yeah, right.” I grinned and winked at Cupid, who sat alongside the bewinged Cher doll that passed for our tree’s angel. Yeah, I had started making the domestic effort for my man.
Hindy patted Tim’s knee. His eyebrows performed their usual hairline tango. “Tim, trust me, you are lucky to have found a tidy man. I’ve seen this place when—”
“Stop spreading tales.” I rolled my eyes. “Here’s the deal. Four months ago, Hindy dropped by one evening after Martin and I had conducted a stellar battle over him slapping me. The kitchen table’s contents were sprawled across the floor. During the argument, we tossed our food-filled plates like crazy people. Then we started on the glassware.”
“Too bad you didn’t crack a plate over his evil head.” Marcel scowled and sipped his wine. “Or better yet a grease-filled frying pan.”
“The temptation flirted with me.”
“I wish temptation had flirted you into real action. Enough, enough, I don’t want to talk about the odious man. Tonight I want to celebrate the season with true friends.” Marcel slithered from his sprawl and flicked on the TV. He clicked around until he laughed in merriment. “There it is. Bridget told me about this festive channel.”
Hindy sputtered in disbelief. “How remarkable. They actually broadcast a film of a burning Yule log? Hilarious.”
“A Yule log and traditional Christmas carols. How fun.” Tim raised his glass in glee before he poured Malbec. Damn, his shaky aim almost baptized my floor in dark-red goodness.
Marcel switched on the tree lights. The sparkly glow filled the room.
To my relief, Tim’s wineglass landed on the table before he applauded the festive light show. He seemed toasted enough to forget he held a glass in his hands. “Why did you turn off the lights during the party?”
“I don’t want to burn the living tree’s branches.” Marcel pointed to the large copper bucket holding the tree upright. “See, the spruce has a root ball. We’re donating the merry little tree to whatever city park needs trees. We can visit the spruce like proud parents.”
Hindy’s knowing stare met mine. “We are blessed old farts.”
“I agree.” I raised my glass for a communal toast. Our glasses clinked together without breaking anything although Tim almost fell off the couch. When it came to drinking, the slim blond was a lightweight.
Marcel switched off the room lights and returned to my side. He ruffled my hair. I wrapped my arm around his waist and pulled him close for a satisfied kiss.
We basked in the rainbow tree’s glow while watching the televised Yule log and listening to classic holiday tunes. The cozy scenario made sense. Tim and Hindy looked as settled as any old couple resting on a park bench, well, that is if the old couple wore black leather, black seersucker, or red-and-green plaid wool trousers. They sat holding hands and smiling for no good reason.
A gasp brushed my cheek. Marcel scrambled to his feet and pointed in fine dramatic style. I managed not to drop my wine. “Look, how cool, it’s snowing!” The pale light seeping through the right window framed his broad shoulders.
I admired his proud silhouette. Tim and Hindy stood to occupy the tall front left window. I stood and joined Marcel. There, a couple graced each window. Fitting. Outside the large flakes filtered down in indolent sloth. The streetlights illuminated their stately descent through the naked tree branches. This too made magical sense. I hugged Marcel close and kissed his temple.
Hindy shook his head in dismay. “I fear it’s time to find a cab.”
As he laughed, Marcel leaned over and prodded Hindy’s shoulder. “Why? You can use the spare bedroom.”
“Stay the night?”
“Look, we have plenty of treats and wine. I say let’s sit, eat, drink, and continue the celebration.” Marcel raised his glass into the air.
Tim clapped in glee. “I’m off tomorrow. I say yes.”
Hindy also lifted his glass into the air. “How wise. Why suffer winter’s bite? Jezebel loves her food dispenser, so no worries.”
Familiar thumping made me laugh. “Spazz wants to join the party.”
“Can I meet him in person?”
“Come on, Tim, I’ll let you hold his travel ball.”
Tim cooed in delight. Spazz entered his travel ball and danced in glee. My nutty hamster hated being left out of the action. Einstein stirred and started roaming through the colorful tube tangle. “Wow, Einstein is awake. These guys agree. They want to party. Go ahead, set Spazz on the floor.”
The merry Spazz rolled into the living room. He managed to bounce against Hindy’s and Marcel’s feet before he rolled back into the spare bedroom. I swear that hamster owned superior taste. No wonder, he was an alien.
We settled back into our comfortable cuddles. Marcel winked and kissed my cheek.
This time Hindy raised his wineglass into the air. The Yule log’s flames reflected off the glass. “My dear Tim, love for a pet is a sign of a good man. If you move in with me, will you bring along any pets? As you know, my ancient Jezebel is a sweetie, but she isn’t much on furry intruders. She does approval of you, which is enough for me.” Hindy set down his wineglass and stroked Tim’s long fine hair.
Marcel gasped. He gripped my shoulder until my muscles whimpered for release.
Tim almost hyperventilated. “Hindy, is this an offer?”
My friend flicked his pale left hand flicked through the air in imperial dismissal. “I planned to wait, but since our dear friends have created such a lovely romantic environment for us, I need to ask you tonight. After all, their love brought us together. Wise of them.” Hindy turned and winked at us before he grasped Tim’s hands. He kissed Tim’s knuckles and sighed in adoration. “Care to move in with me, sweetie darling? Care to be my much-needed breath of fresh air and keep dragging me from my shell?”
“Yes, yes, yes!” Their hug created a devoted tangle of black and blond hair.
Marcel’s triumphant smile tried to blind me. I squeezed him close. “Congratulations, matchmaker.”
A brief wing flutter vanished into the sparkling snow. Cupid, you are da man.
Thanks for reading!