Christmas 2015 is officially over, though the fact that December 27 is a Sunday sort of makes it an unofficial fourth Christmas day.
I spent Christmas at my parents’, as usual, eating food, decorating and gazing at the tree and watching TV. Pacific Rim was on tonight, which my Mom has never seen before, but thoroughly enjoyed. Though it was interesting that I had to explain what kaiju are and what mecha are and how they work to her. For those of us steeped in genre lore, it is easy to forget that mainstream viewers, even those who like SFF films, aren’t necessarily familiar with kaiju and mecha. Though I know that my Mom has seen kaiju films before and she very likely watched anime featuring mecha with me (definitely Neon Genesis Evangelion). But I guess it didn’t quite register with her.
BTW, rewatching Pacific Rim I was struck by how it is very much a Japanese movie made by a Mexican director with mostly British actors. It’s also a movie that is NOT about either the US or Europe to a degree that is rare in western cinema. Yes, there are scenes in Alaska and San Francisco, but most of the action takes place elsewhere and Europe doesn’t figure at all. Plus, you see kaiju attacks on cities like Manila, Cabo or Lima that are usually completely ignored by the destruction orgies of contemporary Hollywood summer spectaculars. I guess the fact that Pacific Rim is an effect-laden summer spectacular that is NOT your typical US-centric blockbuster is also why the planned sequel never got under way.
What is more, I finally persuaded my parents to replace our aging 37-year-old fairy lights for which you can’t get replacement bulbs anymore with LED lights. Or rather, I bought two strings of LED lights, put them on the table and said, “Look, I got us new Christmas lights.” The new LED lights look great on the tree BTW, since they have a lot more lights (120 per string compared to 35 for the fairy lights) and make the various ornaments sparkle. My parents like them, too. They still insist on having a few real beeswax candles on the tree, though.
Talking of which, the research I did for Alfred and Bertha’s holiday adventure, The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree, bore unexpected fruit when I realised that some of the oldest ornaments in our collection, which my parents bought as newly-weds some 50 years ago, are actually made from the tin/lead foil called Stanniol that was also used to make tinsel (which I didn’t put up this year and ours is Mylar anyway). The texture and look are completely different from Mylar and other modern materials, for starters. Not that I have a problem with that. The older ornaments are products of their time and besides Stanniol is not dangerous unless you eat it or casually discard it.
Our Christmas was pretty quiet this year, since my uncle – who usually visits on Christmas Day or Boxing Day – elected to spend the holiday elsewhere this year and decided to inform us of this fact only two days before.
My parents are seriously pissed about this. I’m not sure how I feel about this except being annoyed about the not so subtle censure in my uncle’s behaviour that my Dad and I don’t spend enough time on my uncle and wheelchair-bound aunt, that we don’t visit often enough and don’t jump whenever my uncle has a problem. Never mind that my Dad and I both work, whereas the relatives who visit my aunt every week are retired and also live closer to my aunt’s care home, which is bloody difficult to access, because you can’t park there, which makes every visit an expedition of several hours (and I like my aunt). It’s also telling that nobody minds that the other two nephews visit very rarely. Apparently, married guys with children and jobs outside the home are allowed to have lives, whereas single women without children and with jobs which only take them outside the home part of the time apparently aren’t allowed to have a life. Though I suspect that my aunt and uncle no more get what I do than they get what the other two nephews do. Plus, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten a good dose of xenophobia, if I had dared to mention that I’m working with refugees now.
On a more general note, my extended family has sort of disintegrated in these past few years, partly due to death and illness and partly due to my (and to a lesser degree my Dad’s) refusal to put up with the bullshit of certain relatives anymore. I’m basically down to one aunt and two cousins now and a couple of more removed relatives (second and third cousins, etc…) now. I should probably feel more guilty about this than I do, especially since there is some subtle blaming cum gaslighting going on. I also probably shouldn’t blog about this, but I don’t care.
Meanwhile, we had an unexpected visitor for Christmas Eve, since my parents’ neighbour, who’s a nurse, had her shift rescheduled on short notice and found herself all alone on Christmas Eve, so we invited her over.
In other news, I’ve had a nice Christmas present, since my newly released German language lesbian holiday romance Heiligabend im Café zum Lila Kakadu is not just selling really well, it has also hit No. 1 in the lesbian fiction category at Amazon DE. Something about that story really seems to strike a chord with readers, since it sells well in both English and German. I guess I’m not the only one who has to deal with family problems on Christmas.
Finally, here are some photos of our Christmas tree, ornaments, presents, etc…