I ran into the added problem of my story being science fiction. Do people of the future worship the same, much less celebrate the same way we do? I mean, what could people who no longer live on Earth have in common with their ancestors if their planet's environment is different, the seasons deviate, and the people no longer live in the same ethnic clusters?
But when studying end of the year holidays in the United States, one thing shined like a beacon--so many cultures celebrate the light.
There's a good reason for this. December and January are the darkest, coldest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. The changeover from the old year to the new brings to mind the darkening of the night before the lightening of dawn.
In the United States, many Christian households have a lighted Christmas tree with a bright star on top to signify the star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to the Christ child. Jewish families celebrating Hanukkah light the candles of the Menorah to remember the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. The Kwanzaa celebration of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith, also incorporates a candle-lighting ceremony with a kinara. Las Posadas, celebrated in the Southwestern United States, involves a whole procession of people going from house to house carrying candles and re-enacting Mary and Joseph's search for an inn. Mawlid, or the "Birth of the Prophet" is celebrated by Islamic families in a carnival-like atmosphere that includes torchlight processions, decorations in homes and mosques, and charitable giving. The Hindu celebration of Diwali is called the "festival of lights" and commemorates the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira. Small clay lamps are lit to symbolize the victory of good over evil. The Chinese New Year brings in the coming year with a bang as fireworks burst resplendent in the skies.
So with this in mind, I made my end-year celebration on the fictional planet of Celos involve light. The inhabitants fold origami boats and light tapers to burn above them, pushing them into the surf. The lights are part of a remembrance ceremony, a closing of the old year and a dawning of the new.
Spindrift Gifts published by MLR Press. In it, my tentacled hero Teo has brought his lover Jimenez home to Celos. But when Jimenez suffers a setback in his medical treatment, the only option is a therapy that will wipe away all his memories of the past including his time with Teo. Teo, torn between supporting his lover's decisions and the good intentions of his family, sets out to teach Jimenez about Spindrift Gifts and how memories are celebrated on Celos even when they are painful. Can Teo and Jimenez weather the storm to find their happy-ever-after on Celos?
Don't forget to let a little light in this holiday season!
P.S. Several Southern Magic members expressed a need for more action movies this holiday season. Here's my suggestions for an action-packed Christmas movie night:
- Kingsman: The Secret Service
- Long Kiss Goodnight
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
- The Final Girls (that "s" is important)
- Die Hard