My mother passed away at the end of September this year. My father succumbed to Parkinson’s on my birthday in November of 2020. Because my wife is a Jehovah’s Witness, we haven’t celebrated Christmas as a family since 1995. I am not going with my wife and daughter on the Hawaii Trip they are taking with my wife’s sisters and their kids over the current holiday break. So, I guess you could argue a little bit of depression would not be abnormal if it set in.
But that’s not where my head is at.
I will be spending the holiday at home with the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy and his apprentices Bob and Mickey.the wererat. I have a new laptop that I am trying to learn how to use even though Chromebook doesn’t use Windows 10 and it is like trying to make the computer dance even though I apparently have to learn Mandarin Chinese to do it. I am attempting to use both the new and the old computers to try and write this essay.
If you didn’t understand that last paragraph at all, well. that’s probably because you didn’t remember I am a novelist, and Eli Tragedy’s home is in the novel I am writing, The Necromancer’s Apprentice.
Writing takes me away from the current holiday situation. In fact, it takes me away from reality.
The main characters in my novel are three inches tall or shorter. All of them. And they live in a castle built inside a willow tree.
Yes, a fairy tale full of magic and the battle between good and evil, love and hatred.
And Eli Tragedy is a practical old elf who teaches magic by being as pragmatic as a sorcerer with no magical power of his own can possibly be. Sorta the way my own father taught me his practical-farmer’s-son work ethic. He taught me to paint the house, re-shingle the roof after a tornado, change the oil in the car, repair a broken toilet, and anything else that might come up. He was good with his hands and excellent at problem-solving.
And my mother was always the master of Christmas magic. She was the one who organized the decoration of the Christmas tree. And even more important, she was in charge of all the holiday meal-planning and cooking. That is certainly the most important magical ability you can have at this time of year.
I have to admit, I had to stop and cry a little bit twice during the writing of this essay. But it is not a sad essay. I have Thanksgiving and Christmas memories that span from 1960 (the first ones I can remember) to 1995. And you carry more than just holiday spirit and Christmas cheer along with you in memories through the years. In those memories, not just my mother and father are still alive. Granpa and Grandma Beyer would still be alive along with Great Grandpa Raymond celebrating at their house in Mason City with the bubble lights on the tree and the carved wooden Santa that Uncle Skip had made in the 1940s with a pockte knife.
At Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich’s farm, not only are both of my grandparents putting food on the table, with turkey and ham balls, sweet potatoes baked with marshmellows, multiple bowls of mashed potatoes, and crates of apples and oranges for all the families, but Uncle Larry is still alive and cracking jokes in the kitchen. Aunt Ruth (Grandma Aldrich’s sister) and Uncle Dell (her husband) are holding court in the living room on the couch, Uncle Dell managing to complain about everything, especially the many kids (all of whom were me and my cousins) and how he didn’t like kids (although he loved to tell us stories about life in DesMoines after we grew up a bit and were closer to being adults.) And Karen (whom we just lost to Covid) is there listening, probably more to Uncle Larry’s jokes than Uncle Dell’s complaints.
They are all gone now. But not really gone. They live in me. Just as, one day, I will live in the memories of those who knew and loved me. And I will not be alone this Christmas. Not really alone. Not as long as I can remember.