Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, except for those who celebrate right up to Candlemas on February 2nd. Tonight is, therefore, Twelfth Night, or the eve of the Epiphany. As the story goes, it's the night the three kings followed the star to the manger to bring a special newborn a few welcoming gifts.
My parents emigrated from Germany and brought their holiday traditions with them. On Christmas Eve, my father would set up the freshly cut spruce in the dining room, then herd my sister, my brother and me into the kitchen. We were sequestered there while my mother conferred privately with the Christkind, a sprite-like figure who brought us presents. My mother, we were told, helped the Christkind decorate the tree and wrap the presents. My siblings and I, trapped in the kitchen in our holiday finery, were climbing out of our skin in excitement, waiting with not even a hint of patience for the signal the preparations were complete: the bright ring of a small, silver bell used only for this occasion.
The bell would ring and we'd storm into the dining room, always just missing a glimpse of the Christkind. Our disappointment was short-lived; we were overwhelmed by the tree, glowing with the light of real candles, and laden with ornaments, sweets and lead tinsel.
Of course the presents also got our attention.
But long after that night, long enough for new mittens to become sodden with melted snow, for fights to break out over new games, for a new stuffed animal to become a favorite, for eleven long days and nights, in fact, the sweets remained on the tree. They were not to be touched. It was painful to have so much sugar so close at hand and yet out of bounds.
New Year's Day came and went and still the candy winked at us from between the boughs. Finally, the candles had burned down to stubs and it was time to end Christmas. In fact, it was bad luck to leave decorations up after the twelfth night. So on the evening of January 5th, my parents removed the candles and the delicate decorations from the tree, and the sweets, so long awaited, were ours.
And that, my friends, is how I feel today, on the eve of the launch of my debut novel. It's been a long wait and I have not always been patient. Okay, I was never patient. But starting tomorrow, I finally get to see HOUSE BROKEN in a bookstore, to pull it off a shelf in a library and, if I'm lucky, watch someone reading it "in the wild." Soon there will a tribe of people, my readers, who will share in, and hopefully enjoy, what I have created.
Thank you, friends and readers. Life is sweet indeed.