At the s.f. convention I attended last weekend, some of the magazine and anthology editors were looking for holiday-themed material (mostly short stories). They wanted other writing too, but the holiday connection sticks in my mind. A couple of years ago I agreed to write a novella for Christmas marketing. The editor didn’t insist on sleigh bells and snowmen, but the idea was that the work would be a virtual stocking stuffer. So I wrote The Young Pretender, a novella in the regency mode. It took me a bit longer than I expected it to, so we released it for Burns Night, a Scottish holiday toward the end of January that honors Robert Burns on his birthday. I even tucked in bits of Burns’ poetry. The Young Pretender is not a bad story–one of my funnier tales, in fact. I’ll always associate it with Christmas, but I’m the only one who will. It continues to sell well, so the Burns Night connection isn’t necessary to marketing.
Holiday marketing is a fine capitalist tradition, up there with coupons and loss leaders. But, I wonder, is it truly Protestant? We seem to be moving back toward the Wars of Religion. Will corporate bank-rollers want to continue to celebrate holidays? It was, after all, a Catholic practice. The Lutherans, when they came along, tolerated a few of the old holy days, but the orthodox of Scotland (wha’ believe in John Knox) tossed out all of them along with bishops, statues of saints, prayers for the dead, and stained glass windows. They continued to burn witches.
It was a hard time for artists, musicians, and architects. I can see another wave of Protestantism being hard on writers. What with all the new devices and programs for tracking posts on social media, I foresee bloggers such as myself being dragged off to the pyre for half-assed reflections like this one. Such a pity, but maybe we’ll turn into martyrs and saints with our very own holidays.
I want the Feast of St. Sheila to slide into the gap between St. Patrick and Easter. A book fest would perk up the wet season no end. My books would come on sale, two for the price of one, and folks who wanted to celebrate my life could drink peppermint tea and munch peanut butter cups (sweets to offset the salinity of corned beef and spiral cut ham). Appropriate toasts could be offered, preferably rhymed, and glasses of Pacific Northwest merlot or shiraz raised to salute me and my books. I believe I would like a parade.
I don’t see why the rest of you shouldn’t have feast days too, first come first served.