Chuck Wendig: Christmas is Death

As part of our 12 Days of Christmas, we’re bringing you some of your favourite authors talking about what Christmas is to them… in whatever form they like! We’re also bringing you their backlist at only £1!

Today is the turn of Chuck Wendig, author of the Miriam Black novels (BlackbirdsMockingbird, and the forthcoming The Cormorant), as well as The Blue Blazes, the first Mookie Pearl novel!

Note 1: The Cormorant is excluded from this offer.

Note 2: You can get Blackbirds for free (!) until the end of the year by following this link.

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com

2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket

3. Add the magic word ‘tinsel’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box

4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Happy reading!

We set up our Christmas tree the other day, and the way it worked was, my wife would hand me an ornament and me or the wolverine tornado (aka “toddler”) would place it on the tree, and she suddenly handed me an ornament that looked like a ring of antlers. And I said, “Didn’t Dad give this to us?” and she said, “No, we gave it to him the year that he died.” Oh, I thought, right, right.

My father died on December 22nd.

I don’t mean this year. Or even last year. This was six years back, so your condolences, while appreciated, are many moons beyond their required date.

Snow covered the ground. Ice in the trees. Blinky lights on all the houses and shiny bauble-hung trees in the windows.

And my father had prostate cancer. It had gone through him like raisins through a fruitcake and refused to be contained to the one place: the cancer had ambition, enough to kill him earlier than any of us expected, I think, even though we knew his life was suddenly on a short leash. We drove to see him on that day, the 22nd, just three days before Christmas, and while there on our visit his liver failed and his heart stopped and suddenly he was passing on to his happy hunting ground.

He died with my finger on his pulse. I felt it go. That’s a powerful and awful thing to feel—someone’s heartbeat suddenly slow, then stop.

A rum-pa-pum-pum, then—

Nothing.

I don’t bring this up to bring you down, but, you see, I think about death a lot. As a writer, death is part of my arsenal—it saturates my fiction the way the cancer got its claws in my father. I don’t know who said it, but someone far wiser than me said that all stories are about death and dying and I think that’s true, at least at the molecular level.

When Christmas rolls around, my death thoughts increase by at least an arbitrarily-made-up 46%.

This is, in part, because my father died around Christmas.

But that’s not all of it.

No, Christmas, it seems, is positively pendulous with death energy.

My father lost his father during Christmas, too—and so during that season he became more pensive and troubled, and many of the holidays were punctuated with that grim act of visiting my grandfather’s grave (a man I never met, a man who my father didn’t seem to like very much, and I’d watch him there looking at the grave trying to negotiate the repair of a relationship that could no longer be repaired, a feeling I am well-aware of now that my Dad has slipped away).

That’s the personal side, but you look past that, you can start to see death everywhere. Sure, sure, I know, Christmas is about birth, about the life of that guy whose name is right there in the holiday, but shit, that’s a ruse, isn’t it?

Christmas comes just as the seasons are turning. Just as the last leaves of life are falling off trees. Just as the ground goes cold and food becomes scarce and animals starve. Just as the white stuff starts to fall from the sky like ash—

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