I never wanted to be married, but I did -- being romantic by nature (no matter what anybody says) always want to have that certain special someone of my own. As it turned out, it took me quite a while to find that someone and by then I was just a little bit set in my ways. Granted, I was set in my ways -- and rather eccentric ways they are -- from the time I was about twelve, so learning to be part of a couple…well, let’s just say I had a learning curve. And in fact, I’m still driving that long and winding road. But I haven’t lost a passenger yet, so maybe that’s a point in my favor.
What I do remember keenly from that long period of time when I flying solo, was how lonely the holidays are when you’re not in a relationship. Sometimes even when you are in a relationship, if it’s the wrong relationship. Forget Valentine’s Day. I think the run up from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is the hardest on singletons. It was for me, anyway.
I think it partly ties into the fact that the winter holidays are such a nostalgic time. We tend to make the effort to get together with family and friends as we don’t during the rest of the year, and there’s often a lot of reminiscing. We find ourselves confronting many of our unrealized dreams, past and future. We find ourselves comparing the way things were with how they are today -- and let’s face it, for most of us, today is a lot more complicated and stressful than yesterday. Let alone yesteryear when our biggest worry was whether Santa would override our parents and bring that pony we so desperately needed.
Nor does it help that we’re bombarded with advertising featuring happy couples buying each other romantic and expensive presents as proof of undying devotion. It is, after all, the Season of Love. Love in all its facets, including romantic love. There’s no getting around it.
And we’ve all pretty much been there. We’ve all had our turn at being (what feels like) the only one of our friends not happily paired up, the only sibling that can’t seem to settle down, the one on the phone getting the busy signal when we call late on Christmas Eve hoping for a word…
And the songs! It’s either walking in a winter wonderland or slicing open your wrists with a cookie cutter.
Yeesh. Like Sam the Snowman says in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, “Tell me when it’s over!”
Anyway, now days I have someone to roust out of bed on Christmas morning and drag along to see the nieces and nephews open their gifties. Afterwards we go see a movie (we’re thinking The Hobbit this year), and then it’s back home to open our own presents to each other, then back to the folks for the traditional feast. We’re building our own holiday traditions. And it is…well, it’s nice. It’s not like the Hallmark commercials, but it’s pretty darned good. And there’s no better time of year to count your blessings.
When I write a Christmas story like Icecapade, I deliberately draw on those old dark feelings -- the loneliness, the restlessness, that desire to have someone to share the good stuff -- and the bad -- and the uneasy conviction that you’re just not meant to be with anyone, that you’re not one of the lucky ones. I re-explore those feelings and I complicate things, and make life difficult for everyone, and then I give my characters the happy holiday, the happy ending -- no, the happy beginning of a life shared with another. I can’t give the real thing to all my readers, but I can give stories that reaffirm my own feeling that love is there if you’re willing to work for it -- and that the holidays are a magical time of year.