The Twelve Days of Holmes-mas

Oh my God, there’s a blog post! I think I might faint. Oh, wait, I can’t. I’m the one making the post.

Here’s the thing: I have no Christmas spirit this year, at all. I can’t blame it on COVID, either. It’s definitely a holiday that has provided diminishing returns the last five years. I keep waiting for the season to feel “normal” again, or for there to be a return of my previous exuberant Christmas enthusiasm, but it doesn’t happen, and I’m not sure how to get it back. (Or, honestly, if I want it back, but that’s a question for a different time and place.)

But here’s my concession this year, and only because the idea popped into my head awhile back and it won’t leave, and I should be writing daily anyway – The Twelve Days of a Holmes Christmas, or Holmes-mas, if you will. I do not guarantee bright and cheerful Christmas content. Charlotte, perhaps not surprisingly, shares my current view of the holiday.

A few bits of bookkeeping:

  • We’re going with the traditional definition of the “Twelve days of Christmas”, meaning they start with Christmas Day and count forward.
  • I’ll be using what is, according to the internet, the version of the lyrics published in 1882, because it most closely fits the timeframe of the pre-book Holmes, which is what I’m going with here (because, despite there being a couple Christmases past in my books’ version of the canon, they are chockful of spoilers at this point, and if these books ever see the light of day, spoilers would be a bad thing!)
  • These are probably going to be more vignettes than stories, that might possibly connect into something overarching by the end (but I guarantee nothing!) because I’m giving myself a word count limit and not letting my brain/fingers run wild. I just tucked away 90k words worth of nonsense for my 2020 NaNoWriMo project (80,032 of it in November) so obviously I need a leash currently.
  • I didn’t go back to make sure I hadn’t visited Christmas in this universe already, so on the off chance this violates my own canon…uhhh, oops? Apologies. But, really, it would be on brand, since Doyle didn’t manage to remember his own canon or timeline either, so…..

All that said, here is Day One of The Twelve Days of a Holmes-mas.

Bah humbug.

The first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me,

A sprig from a Juniper tree…

 It was quite late on Christmas night when I emerged from my room. I had, as was my norm, sat out the dinner and the quaint exchange of gifts. While I left things beneath the tree Watson, Mycroft, and Aunt Anne set up in the lounge for each of them, and understood they similarly left things for me, and cleaned the plate of roast goose and other goodies Anne left beyond my door, I possessed no desire to participate in the frivolity. Anne long since stopped trying to ensnare me in the revelry; Mycroft humored her and left me to my foul mood. Watson had a harder time accepting my refusal to engage, though the threat of a punch to his nose convinced him to drop the issue.

The lounge was dark, save for the dying embers of the fireplace as I crept across the room. The candles on the tree were long-since doused and the warm orange glow from the fire cast interesting patterns on the ribbon and tinsel. Per long-standing tradition, a contingent of gifts done up in excessive foofaraw sat waiting in the middle of the breakfast table, with a suspiciously warm pot of tea. Perhaps I was becoming too predictable if Anne could time my emergency from hermitage precisely enough to leave fresh tea. A serving of Christmas pudding sat beside the tea with a very short note:

 “Charlotte,

You could do to eat a bit more.

Please wash the dish when you’re done.

All my love,

Anne.”

“Nag,” I muttered, even as I shoveled a forkful of brandy-saturated beef and raisins into my mouth.

The presents were mostly the usual, expected fare. Anne had knit me a lovely scarf in a combination of blues. According to the tag, it would go nicely with that woolen coat I stole from Mycroft. My twin, in his typical fashion, found some obscure book on ancient Greek botany he assured me, per the note tucked within the cover, I would find absolutely fascinating. That meant, of course, that discussion of poisons of some sort went on within. Frustratingly, it was all in Greek.

“If this is a challenge, dear brother,” I muttered to the dark, “I accept.”

Watson’s gift came in a smaller package and I felt a momentary twinge of panic. But it was too big to hold a ring and didn’t rattle like one when I shook it. When I tore away the paper and unfolded the new pair of gloves folded over the rest – I was notoriously hard on gloves, either losing half a respectable pair, or ruining another with some caustic agent or other – I found chatelaine tucked inside. Instead of the usual charms and merely decorative construction, the housing appeared aesthetically pleasing but sturdy, and held things like a foldable pair of tweezers, a discrete magnifying glass, a pair of perfume vials perfect for transporting samples, a flint, and three thin metal rods I recognized as lock picks. It was quite a useful contraption, and quite pretty as well and, I noticed, came without an explanatory note. There was a single empty chain, and I knew well what he thought might fit there, whether I was entirely ready to add it yet or not. Perhaps I add a small decorative mirror charm. It would come in handy for checking for breath on suspected corpses, and occupy the chain until I was ready to put Mum’s cameo on display.

“Is it any wonder I adore that man?” I shook my head and gathered my collection of gifts, as well as the pot of tea, cup, and remaining pudding. If I lingered in the lounge too long I was likely to acquire company of one type or another, and I was of little desire as yet to see the others. I picked my careful way across the darker and darker room until I made it to my door.

What I found inside made me pause in the entry. Someone had lit the lamp on my writing desk. More confusing, though, was the sprig of greenery dotted with blue berry-like protrusions laying across my pillow.

“Well. Isn’t this awfully curious?”

|To be continued…?|

(If you’re curious, as I was, what a sprig of Juniper would look like, Etsy was my friend.)

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