Please welcome Nell to the blog this evening to talk about her lovely New Year’s story, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday. A happy new year to you all, let’s hope 2021 doesn’t suck QUITE so much as 2020 has!
Happy new year, everyone, and a huge thank you to Ally, who has graciously invited me to her blog to talk about my new release, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday. I’m spending my New Year’s Eve with my husband, eating a nice dinner at home, having a glass of wine while turning my back to 2020, and looking forward to a new, hopefully, better year. I shan’t be making any resolutions, though. Not any serious ones at least, and if you want to know about my un-serious one, keep reading 😊
The first people known to have made some kind of new year’s resolutions was the old Babylonian, about 4000 years ago. They held celebrations in honor of the new year, which for the Babylonians started in the middle of March after they’d planted their crops. During a twelve-day festival, they reaffirmed their loyalty to their King (or swore in a new one if something had happened to the old one) and made promises to their gods to pay debts and return borrowed things. Should they not keep their promises, they fell out of favor with the gods, and nobody wanted that.
The Romans had something similar. When Emperor Julius Caesar introduced his new calendar in 46BC, the one deciding that a year is 365 days except on leap years, he declared January 1st as the start of the new year. January was named after the god Janus, who had two faces: one looking back and one looking forward, and thus symbolically looking back over the old year and forward over the coming one. The Romans would make sacrifices to Janus and promise to be on their best behavior for the coming year.
During the Middle Ages, there was The Peacock Vow. The Peacock Vow took place at the end of December; during the last feast of Christmas, knights would lay their hands on a live or roasted peacock and renew their vows of chivalry for the coming year.
New Year’s resolutions seem to have been a common thing by the 17th century, and by 1802, the tradition was so common it was satirized. A practice that’s still common these days. Both the resolution-making and the satirizing of it.
Neither the MC’s in my NYE story, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday, is the kind of person who makes resolutions. Petter decided long before New Year’s Eve to change his life for the better, to be more true to who he really is, and the best Isak can do when put on the spot is to promise to not start smoking the coming year either.
That, by the way, is my new year’s resolution. I’ve made it every year for the last fifteen years or so. Because why make it difficult for yourself? Why not promise something you know you can keep? And since I’ve never been a smoker, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep my resolution for 2021, too. Now, all I need is a peacock to swear on.
Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”
“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.
“But this year is different?”
“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”
“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”
Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”
I return his smile. “Exactly!”
“I’ll drink to that. Finding a like-minded person makes it worth subjecting myself to this awfulness.” He takes another swig, face contorting, and then hands over the bottle to me.
“Are you trying to poison me?” I take the tiniest of drinks, barely enough to wet my mouth.
“Hey! You’re the one who brought it.”
“And I regret it deeply.”
The sparklers have gone out, and Isak lights a couple new ones, handing me one. “So tell me about your resolution.”
“You’ll think it’s stupid.” I avert my gaze, looking out over the ocean. Far away a tiny pinprick of light moves across the water. Who’s out in a boat now?
“I won’t. Promise.”
I follow the little prick of light as it moves away, and it’s easier to talk about it when I’m not looking at him. “I’m going to be more true to who I really am.”
Gently, he replaces the burned-out sparkler in my hand with a new one. “Why would I think that’s stupid?”
“Because people do. I’m almost thirty, I’m supposed to have reached that stage already in my life.”
“People assume a lot of shit, don’t they?”
I take my eyes off the boat and allow myself to be mesmerized by the sparkler, by the tiny stars shooting out of it in every direction, by the crackling sound and its energy. It burns hot and fast, but it gives its all doing it. “Yeah,” I say.
“I’ll drink to your resolution. I’m sure it doesn’t mean much to you because we don’t know each other, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Now drink.”
When the sparkler sputters and dies out, I look at Isak. “It does mean something. Thank you”. I take an even smaller drink, but the taste still contaminates my tongue.
“What is this crap anyway?” Isak asks
Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday
Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget
Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.
Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.
Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?
M/M Contemporary / 20849 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.