The celebrations over at the Choc-Lit blog got me wondering. How would the key players in Never Coming Home spend Christmas?
For Suzanne - my heroine's mother, the theme would be glamour and elegance. A fashion model in the late 60s and early 70s and later the muse and companion of a world famous artist, her emphasis has always been on style, even in her days as a flower child. I can see her shopping in Harrods and Harvey Nichols, hopping on Euro star to hit the boutiques of Paris, or picking out distinctive gifts at Christmas craft markets in atmospheric cities like Bath or Lincoln - or even further afield in France and Germany. She'd be sure to find some special hand-made tree decorations, to entrance her granddaughter, and probably some edible goodies, to add spice to her own entertaining.
Christmas Eve would be spent in cocktails with friends, followed by dinner, wearing Vivienne Westwood or vintage Dior. After a leisurely breakfast on Christmas morning, it would be a short, brisk walk to her daughter's house in Chelsea, in time for present opening and to help with dinner.
For Kaz, Christmas would be a lot more hectic. Juggling her gardening business - clients wanting their winter gardens in top condition for their holiday entertaining - with preparations for giving her small daughter the time of her life. As a recently divorced single parent Kaz tries hard, perhaps too hard, to ensure that Jamie doesn't miss out on anything. Raised in a bohemian artistic community, whether in a palazzo in Venice or a chateau in France, Kaz craves the traditional and cosy. She's clear-sighted enough to know that some of the effort she puts in for Jamie is for herself too.
So- the house will be decorated using foliage and berries, along with fairy lights and tinsel, the tree will be tall, and trimmed with classic decorations that she hopes will be passed on and treasured by her daughter, when she grows up to have a home and family of her own. Kaz probably won't get out of her jeans, until shooed upstairs by her mother to put on something festive on Christmas night. Christmas Eve will find her hosting a group of excited five-year-olds for her daughter's birthday celebrations, then trying to stuff far too many small presents into an overflowing stocking, helping Jamie leave out the home made mince pie - a little crumbly, but made together, with love and laughter - for Santa, plus carrots and sugar lumps for his reindeer, and wondering if the turkey really is too big for the oven.
That's Suzanne and Kaz's Christmas. At least it was. Until tragedy struck, leaving only grief in its wake.
Devlin's Christmases have been ... well, somewhat different. While he was working for an unacknowledged Government Agency, on assignment, deep under cover, it was enough to make it through the day, like any other day, and still be breathing at the end of it. Since he's been 'retired' and working as a security consultant in America, he's taken delivery of a very flash and fast hire car on December 24th and simply pointed it at the road. He's spent Christmas in bars in one-horse towns, in diners in the middle of nowhere, in fancy hotels and flea pit motels, all across the States. Wherever he happened to be where hunger or tiredness hit.
This is a guy who's faced death on a day to day basis. But, the scariest thing of all? Trying to do Christmas as part of a family. If you've ever seen a hard man panic, this would be it.
But, if he's going to have a Happy Ever After, and I really do want that to happen, he's going to have to put some work in.
And there would be Christmas things he'd be good at. Like - anything that requires analysis and heavy lifting - from selecting the tree, to carrying home the turkey - and hauling it into the oven. He'd be a perfect escort to a festive ice rink, or fair ground, especially one with white knuckle rides. He'd be excellent at making space near the front at open air events and parades, although that air of contained menace might not be exactly in the festive spirit.
The softer stuff, cards, candles, wrapping paper - that's going to take a while. But anything is possible with sufficient motivation. And what better motivation than love?
There is one thing I'm sure of. He knows exactly what to do when it comes to mistletoe.
On that, he's a expert.