I’m getting ready for an Orphans’ Christmas. Sounds a bit tragic and Dickensian, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, I’m not planning to play Lady Bountiful, or even going to watch orphans eat — they used to do that in the 19th century, by the way — rich people would come and “view the orphans” as if they were a kind of zoo— rather ghastly, I think.
My Orphans’ Christmas is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. It’s simply a gathering of friends — my alternate family. In these days of fractured and far flung families, it’s not so easy to get together for the traditional family Christmas, and some years back, rather than face a quiet and possibly lonely Christmas some friends and I decided to be our own family and have Christmas together — an Orphans’ Christmas.
It’s always a fun gathering — we do the full traditional bit with a seafood starter (I’m in Australia, where it’s summertime at Christmas), then a roast dinner and Christmas pudding to follow, and we do a Kris Kringle and play silly games as well. There’s nearly always one or two extra people at the last minute — anyone who’s likely to be alone on Christmas is dragged along.
In an interview recently the interviewer pointed out that a lot of my books were about family, and she asked me if family was important to me. I answered that I thought it was important for everyone. I should have gone on to explain that by families, I didn’t just mean blood relatives. I think these days we rely on our friends nearly as much (and sometimes more so) than our blood relatives.
It’s not like the days when most people lived close to their relatives — if my family is anything to go on, we’re scattered across different states, and in different countries, and though we communicate a lot by phone or email, it’s often my friends who I’ll turn to first if I need help or support. If you’re not born into a big, close-knit family, you can make one yourself, out of friends.
So for me, our Orphans’ Christmas is a celebration of family just as much as any traditional gathering. There’s also a bit of the spirit of Thanksgiving thrown in, being grateful for the friendship we have. I couldn’t get along without my friends, so I love having this celebration with and for them.
What about you? Are you far from your blood family? Do you have good friends who are your alternative family? And what’s your favorite part of the holiday season?
Anne Gracie will be giving away a copy of Mischief and Mistletoe, the Christmas anthology by the Word Wenches.
WINNER ANNOUNCED – Jenny – congrats!
Award-winning author, Anne Gracie, spent her childhood and youth on the move, thanks to her dad’s job, which took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humor & love are universal languages and that favorite books can take you home, wherever you are.
As well as writing, Anne teaches adult literacy, flings balls for her dog, keeps bees and enjoys reading, music, cooking and her tangled garden.
Anne also blogs regularly with the Word Wenches; Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, Susan Fraser King, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliot and Joanna Bourne. Visit them at http://wordwenches.typepad.com/