Surviving the Holidays, Part Two


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Contemporary fantasy set in a dystopian world.
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After the Breaking, not much was left. I assumed it was a case of magic gone bad—until I discovered my goddess mother had broken the world. She didn’t like it that I’d turned my back on the pantheon. My long tenure among witches rubbed salt into the wound.

After a confrontation where Mommy Dearest fessed up—and lacked the decency to bat an eyelash about the widespread destruction she’d caused—I was digesting what to do next when a dragon showed up.

Yes. A dragon.

The beast didn’t talk with me or anything, but it flew overhead wreaking havoc on a goblin horde. Witches are old souls with kind hearts, but they’re not particularly strong magically, so I was grateful for the help.

And suspicious as hell. Why a dragon? Why here and why now? More importantly, why was he—she?—helping me? Part of me didn’t want to know, and another part was certain I’d find out anyway.


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Magic levies a steep price on anyone brave enough or stupid enough to dabble in it.

Wizards never forgave Ned for not being one of them. They didn’t exactly come out and say his life was expendable, but they didn’t have to. He figured it out fast enough when they conscripted him into their long-running war the second he was old enough to fight. Isolated, different, he puzzled out how his brand of magic worked on his own.

Fleeing the tide of doom wiping out humanity, Amanda and her family escape to a remote corner of California, where they eke out a hardscrabble existence. With her parents at each other’s throats and her brother mysteriously gone, Amanda encounters malevolent power beyond her wildest imaginings. Captured by the Undead, she’s about to join their ranks when Ned shows up.

Defying a direct order from his wizard battle lord, Ned dives into the fray. He might not know Amanda, but it doesn’t matter. She’s in trouble and needs his magic.

It’s good enough for him.



Surviving the holidays, Part Two
Part One was in my last blog post

We rarely grow up in Ozzie and Harriet families. At best, our parents and siblings disappoint us. At worst, there may be substance dependence and/or outright emotional or physical abuse. The best news about less-than-optimal families is we can escape them once we grow up.

If we let ourselves.

That last is the kicker. Many of us carry debris from our childhoods for a long time and let it color how we live our adult lives. We don’t have to do that. Nor do we have to return to our families over the holidays out of a misplaced sense of guilt or obligation. Sometimes running head up against their negativity drags us into a place we’d rather not be. It returns us to when we were much younger and helpless to alter our environments.

My mother was one controlling woman. It was her way or the highway over and over again, and her favorite question was, “What would so-and-so think?” Long before I hit eighteen, I was quite sure I could give a you-know-what less about what anyone thought. I left home two weeks after I graduated high school and never went back. Not for long, anyway. It didn’t actually feel safe to come home for much more than a family dinner until I’d developed enough confidence in who I’d become as an adult to stand up for myself and not feel like I’d failed in some elemental way.

Most of our families are mixed bags. One thing that helped me was sorting the good from the bad and focusing on the positives I got out of being raised by two very strict depression-era parents. Another thing that made a difference was convincing myself they did the best they could by me—at least most of the time.

I can see some of you shaking your heads and thinking I had dream parents compared with yours. Maybe so, but the same principles apply. Parents who were physically abusive usually grew up with physical abuse. Ditto for chemical dependency. It’s what they learned growing up, and it’s the only way they know how to be in the world. It’s possible to move beyond those early lessons, but it takes a great deal of determination. Instead of being locked into everything that’s wrong with them, work to find one thing right and focus on that instead.

We can’t fix our parents. Or our partners. Or anyone beyond ourselves. The only exception to that is our kids and we have a brief little window when they’re small to shape the adults they’ll become. It works better for some kids than others. Kids will be the next topic. Let me go back to families and the holidays.

Is there some event you dread? Something you go to every year and kick yourself all the way there and all the way home for caving in? My first question is why is it important for you to go? If there are really good reasons like one of your parents is terminally ill, or it’s the only opportunity for your children to get together with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins, then you need to build in some safeguards.

No one ever said you have to get drawn into an uncomfortable conversation. Simply say, “Sorry, not going there,” and walk away. Give yourself permission to be strong.
If Mom or Dad or Uncle Frank drink too much, ignore them. They can’t hurt you anymore. Keep your kids away from them if they get rowdy or feisty. That goes double for any closet pedophiles in the family.

How about if someone starts browbeating you about something that happened years ago? Same response as above, with a small caveat. “Sorry, can’t change the past. Not going there.” If they persist, tell them nicely you’re not taking the bait. Not now, and not ever again.

Those are just a few examples, but the bottom line is you have the power to craft your experiences. You’re not at anyone’s mercy—unless you allow it to happen.

Stay tuned for part three, which will deal with kids and how to rein in their endless desire for rampant consumerism through the holiday season. Part four will address loss. Many of us have lost loved ones around the holidays, or a particular holiday will be the first one without our mother, father, sister, husband, or other special person.

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