“So, Rusty. How do your characters celebrate Christmas?”
Curiously, in five novels so far, Christmas has appeared only once.
Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: begins the last week in March, ends (except for the intervening 35 years) in September.
Return from Avalon (and Points West): begins in May, ends in July.
Strange Bedellows: begins on Walter’s 55th birthday, which is 5/5/10 because he was born on 5/5/55. Ends in September.
**The Adventures of Sir Kay. Begins the week before Pentecost. I’m not sure exactly when it ends, but at 85,000 words it’s approaching the climax and it’s only July. So I think it’s relatively safe to assume there will be no Christmas in Camelot this year. And of course, the weather’s nice, since according to the song,
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September
Avalon, S.C., the oddball, begins starts in October and ends on Beltane the following year, making it the only novel where Christmas actually takes place.
SO WHY IS THAT, RUSTY?
That’s actually a very good question. I hadn’t thought about it much before today. To the best of my knowledge, it was never much of a conscious decisions when in the year the books started. Return from Avalon originally started in March, until I discovered the places that Arnie was traveling–Yellowstone, for example–were totally snowed in. So I had to move it forward to May.
Here are the reasons I’ve been able to come up with.
1. COINCIDENCE. Always a dangerous assumption, although it could possibly be correct.
2. THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS. I am at best a conscientious objector in the widely-proclaimed War on Christmas, at worst a guerrilla fighter. Armed and deadly.
3. I’M A BASEBALL LOVER. For the true baseball fan, the year begins with spring training, when hope begins anew, where all teams are tied for first, where there’s always a chance. And it ends in October, where the last dream save one is crushed.
Since this is all subconscious, I’m going with #3. Although if the Astros continue their multi-year slide and I have to become a football-first fan, things might change.
REMIND US RICK AND SABRINA CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
Sabrina: Peckerwoods’ is closed on Christmas, so she gets the whole day off. Usually she and her two kids go to church with her Mama and sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve. “None of that communist bull hockey about opening presents on Christmas Eve for this family. Of course, that means up no later than 6 on a day off, but it’s OK. It’s only once a year, and who wants to sleep in on Christmas? I swear I’m as excited as the kids are.” Sabrina always gets the kids something they can all play with after the together after the presents are all opened. This year it’s a game where you “build stuff out of rickety blocks and then try to knock them down with rubber band guns.” Then Mama comes over and makes our traditional Christmas dinner, which is chicken-fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans.
Rick: drives to Augusta, Ga. on Christmas eve to spend Christmas with his sister’s family. His nephew Justin “was the perfect age for Christmas. Full of wide-eyed wonder at everything; not old enough yet to be greedy nor to have the first doubt that Santa was real. Christmas was a miracle created just for him. Plus at four you start to get real toys that are fun for your uncle to play with too. Well, maybe a little young. But whatever, we had a blast.” He ends up making chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes with gravy for lunch the day after Christmas. Then some shopping for gifts for Sabrina’s kids which he forgot to do before he left. With all that going on, he got home late. He was sitting with his feet up, enjoying a martini and a good book, when Sabrina’s boyfriend J.D. dropped by and beat him up.