After a massive row with her parents over intolerable relatives, Katie finds herself all alone for the holidays. So she heads for the one place in town where everyone is welcome on Christmas Eve, the legendary Purple Owl Café.
The Purple Owl Café has a chequered sixty-year history. These days it’s not just a place for good music and conversation, it also happens to be a lesbian bar.
Katie doesn’t mind, though so far her life was too busy for romance of any kind. But that’s about to change when Katie meets Jess at the Christmas Eve party at the Purple Owl Café…
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- Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café is a short story of 4700 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- I always wanted to write a holiday romance about someone who wants to escape their intolerant family on Christmas and finds acceptance and even love in the process.
- However, the main inspiration for this story was a jazz club in my hometown which has been hosting Christmas Eve parties for those looking to escape their families since the 1960s. By the time I was at university, that club was also known as a lesbian bar. So I wondered what if someone looking to escape their family on Christmas ends up at that club? And what if that someone is a young woman unsure of her sexuality?
- Christmas Eve is the main event in Germany, when the tree is lit and gifts are exchanged. So I decided to set Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café in Germany to give Katie a reason to escape on Christmas Eve.
- Christmas Eve is traditionally considered a contemplative and quiet holiday in Germany, which is quite contrary to the spirit of what should be a joyous occasion. As a result, traditional German Christmas songs tend to be slow and often sound more like funeral dirges than songs of joy. As a result, like Katie, many people tend to prefer the cheerier English language songs.
- Racist or xenophobic relatives at family events and older family members unwilling to call them out or at least let them know that racist and xenophobic remarks are not welcome is a very real problem. It goes back to a badly thought-out idea of hospitality which insists that non-smokers have to tolerate smokers, women have to tolerate gropers and that no guest must ever be criticised for anything by their host.
- The protests in Dresden that Katie mentions refer to the anti-immigrant and anti-muslim PEGIDA protests which drew several thousand protesters in Dresden and other East German cities in 2014 during the advent season.
- The TV show Waiting for the Christ Child that Katie mentions was a staple of German Christmas Eve afternoon programming from the 1960s well into the 1990s.
- The cover image is a stock photo by Estonian photographer Lev Dolgachov via Dreamstime.