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Writer’s Craft #52 – How would your characters do Xmas?

December 26, 2011
Lynda Williams

Lynda Williams, Author of Okal Rel Saga

Your host, Lynda Williams, is the author of the Okal Rel Saga (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and editor of the Okal Rel Legacies series (Absolute Xpress). She also works as Learning Technology Analyst for Simon Fraser University and teaches a introductory web development course at BCIT. For a list of Okal Rel titles see: Lynda Williams on Amazon.com.


The year that Edge publicist Janice Shoults asked me to improvise on Christmas and the Okal Rel Universe was the first time I was stumped by an opportunity to talk about my characters. It took me a while to get the knack of how to respond because my first reaction was to get all deep and analytical about identifying a parallel celebration in the ORU (i.e. A Swearing? The Pan Demish-Tournament?) It wasn’t until I realized the way through was to get in the spirit of the thing and treat it like a party game that I solved the problem. Then it was fun.

Amel would do Christmas surrounded by as many of the people he loved as possible. He would hug the women, enjoy the food, and play with the kids. He’d help with the dishes, too. In fact he’d probably like that part best because of the happy gossiping that takes place in the kitchen.

Alivda, on the other hand, would get bored unless she got to take charge. Then it wouldn’t be exciting enough for her unless there was a fire on the stove or a hot guy she could seduce, whether or not he was there with his wife.

Erien would be awkward about the social aspect until he found someone he could talk to about ways to improve the traditional aspects of the season to get through it more efficiently.

Horth would stake out a corner of the living room and stoically endure the babble of unintelligible conversation for as long as necessary to prove he could cope with it, then go jump in a rel-ship to clear his head with a little reality skimming. Unless Ilse was there. Then he’d stick it out.

Ranar would look like he was being very social but he’d actually be collecting data for an anthropological study on what the holiday meant to those present.

Perry would have a hell of a good time and take home doggie bags to her Killing Reach rebels.

Ayrium would make Ameron come, incognitio, and insist he didn’t talk politics with anyone.

Luthan would throw the party, with some help from Samanda O’Pearl as convener.

Eler would make a scene at the height of the evening and start a fight. And seize an opportunity to read his poetry, if he could pretend someone else wrote it.

from Edge feature countdown to Christmas 2010.

How about you and your crew? How would your characters do Christmas?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2011 7:36 am

    “Hai, Haloia.”
    Di Creza stood in the doorway blinking at her. He’d clearly gotten the jump on sunset and had been celebrating for an hour or so already. “Haloia hai.” He stepped aside and motioned Marlee in. “You’re the first,” he said, wiping a hand on his apron and extending it to take hers and give her a brush of a kiss across the knuckles.
    “Sorry to be unfashionably early; I just couldn’t get away from home fast enough.” Marlee looked around the little sitting room, which had been decorated with the usual gilded fishing net, hung with shells and starfish, with a few packages caught in its strands. There were also some decorations that she assumed must come from his homeland. As he hung up her coat, she looked at the crossed ash branches over the doorway, heavy with red berries.
    “My father sent those by air mail, and an inadequate check. I wasn’t sure you’d come. You must get many invitations.”
    “Yes, from the barnacles. I’m obliged to put in an appearance at those, later. No business is conducted, of course, but let them get good and drunk, and they sometimes let slip useful information. Plus, Karlo scolds me if I don’t butter up the gentry.”
    Di Creza led the way into the kitchen. “Hope you don’t mind if I cook while we talk. So, with all that, you came here first.”
    “As I said, they need time to get a few drinks under their belts. Plus, after a day with my family all pretending to like each other, a little spell of honesty is refreshing, before I have to dive in again. My, that smells nice.”
    “I ordered a suckling pig from Porloon’s. Barely fits in the oven, with turnips. Yes, yes, don’t worry, there’s fish and leathercress and the rest too, for your barbarian ritual.”
    “Speaking of which, I brought you something.” Marlee set her satchel on the counter and withdrew a flat package wrapped in the traditional blue paper, printed with sand-colored seashells and coral.
    Di Creza weighed it in his hands while Marlee unpacked her special dishware. “Too heavy for a trinket. Not a book… Help yourself from the sideboard. Spiced wine on the right, cider on the left.”
    Marlee put cheese and orange slices on her plate, and some salmon and a single leaf of the despised leathercress. She smiled. “Go ahead and open it, you clod.”
    “I always wait until morning.”
    “But I won’t be here then.” She dipped out a steaming mug of cider.
    “Let me check the pig first. I’m surprised they bother. Your family, I mean, that they bother to pretend.”
    “Mostly because Grandfather’s watching. Giving in to temper is a sign of weakness.”
    “I know I complain about my father, but I’m really glad I didn’t grow up in your family.” Di Creza tore into the package, revealing a wooden box, glossy with varnish. “I’m embarrassed,” he said insincerely. “I didn’t get you anything.”
    Marlee waved her cup at the cramped kitchen. “A haven counts for something.”
    Di Creza opened the box and drew in a breath. He wiped his hands, then reached in and withdrew a tiny gun, black steel with vines and birds inlaid in gold. He ran his thumb over the bumpy rosewood grip. “A Ginsdale.”
    “Two shots, sized for vest pocket or sleeve holder, and not, I think, incompatible with your style of dress. Should you need to lay it on a card table, to insure fair play.”
    Di Creza set it reverently back in the velvet-lined box, and set the box on a shelf. “Now I really am embarrassed.” He picked up a cup and went to the sideboard to serve himself, going for the strong stuff.
    “I need my useful associates to be safe,” Marlee said. “Which reminds me, that had better not end up on a gaming table for any other reason.”
    “Not to worry; it’s sacrosanct.”
    “Good; I’ll feel better knowing you’re carrying it on the next job I have planned for you.”
    “Next job?”
    “No business tonight,” Marlee said, smiling. “Come see me on Tuesday.” She raised her cup. “Hai, Halioa.”
    Di Creza clinked his cup against hers. “Haloia hai.”

    • Lynda Williams permalink
      December 26, 2011 1:59 pm

      Hai, Hailoa to you, too. And thanks for contributing.:-)

  2. Kari Terhark permalink
    December 26, 2011 8:23 am

    Lynda- that was light hearted and funny, I enjoyed reading it! (And I think I would stand next to Amel) So hmm… let’s see. I’ll take my characters off their ship and put them in port for Christmas.

    Jonathon (MC) would be the only one to have bought presents and wrap them, but the gifts are all undergarments because he’s offended that none of the sailors wear any.

    Arent (senior merchant) would feel embarrassed at forgetting to buy gifts and would instead buy a round drinks, as long as they weren’t top shelf.

    Willem (Captain) doesn’t drink and doesn’t wear undergarments, and would sit and complain loudly about both, and everything else that he saw

    Dirck (firstmate) would be looking for someone to discuss his history books with (he’s fascinated by warfare, a stellar christmas topic)

    Henry (second mate) would be telling ribald jokes while occasionally picking his nose

    Andrew (Jonathon’s sidekick) would mingle pleasantly while waiting for everyone to get drunk, and then pick their pockets

    Jody (Jonathon’s mother) would be critiquing what everyone was wearing (she’s a seamstress), and telling the men to tuck in their shirts, which they’ll do as long as she gives them a slice of her cinnamon cake.

    Annelle (Jonathon’s fiancé until she leaves him for someone more successful) would be sizing up what everyone bought themselves for christmas to see where she might make money

    • Lynda Williams permalink
      December 26, 2011 2:00 pm

      I’m with Jonathon. People should wear undergarments.🙂 Thanks for contributing and happy New Year.

  3. December 27, 2011 8:49 am

    Not exactly Christmas, but perhaps close enough, and built around what really happens with holiday celebrations like Christmas over time.

    The Freefolk of the world of Elder Light have a Solstice celebration called “Giftingtide”. Its origins go back to the time when they fled the City of God, seeking freedom from the oppression of the Church. Tristramacus and Brinnalamaya, of the Elder Race, took them to the North to a valley where the Elders once had a thriving settlement, now long gone. That first winter was hard. The Freefolk had come ill-prepared, with only what supplies they could carry. Lord Tristramacus, as they called him, for they had great reverence for him, returned to the South to get supplies for them. On the darkest day of the year (this world has seasons and variation in length of day similar to ours) Tristramacus returned with a sled full of gifts for the Freefolk, taken from the Subcity, as well as food and fuel. There was a great celebration. Tristramacus kept up this tradition as long as he remained with the Freefolk.

    Years passed, and the Giftingtide celebration continued, evolving as holidays do. No longer a tiny struggling colony, the Freefolk have turned the Valley into a thriving settlement. And they have turned Giftingtide into a celebration of generosity and all best in the hearts of human and Elder. It has become a multi-day event, including a bonfire, games, family get-togethers, and a community gathering in which people have the opportunity to settle disputes, forgive mistakes and resolve misunderstandings in the hope of entering the new year free from the weight of old angers and hostilities.

    Through the nine novels of the Elder Light series, Giftingtide continues to change, as historical events become romanticized into myth and attach themselves to various holidays, Giftingtide among them. But always at the heart of Giftingtide is the symbolism of light coming to darkness, of kindness relieving sorrow, of forgiveness quenching anger, of goodness overcoming baser traits. And so it acquired a special, almost spiritual significance, and spread beyond the Valley to be celebrated by nearly every culture in the world.

  4. December 28, 2011 11:31 am

    “the opportunity to settle disputes, forgive mistakes and resolve misunderstandings in the hope of entering the new year free from the weight of old angers and hostilities.” … I like that.

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