In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
How does a favorite character celebrate the winter holidays?
Jessica Jones hates Christmas. She doesn’t hate Christ. She doesn’t really care one way or another about Christ. Or God. Or Christianity. That’s not the part of Christmas she hates. And it’s not the commercialism. It’s annoying that every other ad on TV is holiday themed whether it is for a toy or a kitchen gadget or wiper blades (nothing says Happy Holidays like wiper blades). It’s annoying that you can’t escape the sound of overexposed underaged pop stars singing overplayed uninteresting holiday tunes. It’s really annoying that the Christmas season seems to start sometime in September so that by the time you should be excited about Christmas just seeing a candy cane makes you want to puke (at least it does if you are Jessica Jones). But there are plenty of things that are annoying that Jessica doesn’t hate. Like her mother.
Jessica hates that Christmas is a problem she can’t punch. Or turn her back on. Or escape. It’s just there, every year, in ads and tunes and pukey candy canes. In trees with needles that get everywhere and lights that never work the first time. In stockings that require a magic spell to fit over the fireplace. In never ending shopping trips and wrapping paper cuts. In near-accidents with open flames. And in Carol’s voice and Peter’s smile and Luke’s beautiful brown eyes. Luke who thinks of Christmas as magical instead of stressful and just wants Baby’s First Christmas We’re Not Wanted By the Government to be perfectly merry. It’s a lot of pressure to pretend to be normal and Jess hates it.
But not as much as she loves her big crazy family of misfit toys.
Kate Kane mostly celebrates Hanukkah by herself, these days. She isn’t on speaking terms with her father, and he was the one who insisted on making a big deal out of Jewish observances only after her mother and sister. . .well, Kate isn’t even sure anymore about what happened to them, which is the point of not speaking to her father.
But. She can’t quite let the holiday go all together, because there are too many memories. Most recently, there’s the week that she spent with Renee and her dying friend, though she has no idea where the hell Renee is these days, either. So each night she lights a candle on her own and then. . .well, usually, once the candle burns down, she puts on the costume and goes out to find some bad guy ass to kick. On morning of the last day, though, she calls her cousin Bette, to find out if Bette is doing anything, and it turns out she isn’t. Kate even busts out her dad’s old latke recipe, and she and Bette have those together with some really bad, cheap wine. They don’t talk about much of anything that matters, but sometimes that’s kind of the point.
Steve Rogers remembers the Christmases of his youth with a mixture of nostalgia and regret. He’s aware now, in a way he wasn’t then, of how his mother pinched pennies all fall just to buy him a gift or two, a book or a new set of pastels, wrapped in the newspaper comics Steve so wanted to draw himself. He doesn’t remember the Christmases before his sixth birthday, the Christmases he must have spent with both of his parents; he remembers only sitting with his mother by the guttering fire, gazing at the tiny tree they bought each year from the corner grocer, with its popcorn strings and delicate glass balls his grandmother had brought over from Ireland. He remembers church services and snow and his mother singing carols, up until the year her beautiful voice was no longer able to withstand the coughing.
After Steve’s fourteenth birthday, he didn’t celebrate Christmas again for a very long time. His only real friend, Arnie, was Jewish, and the proprietors of the boarding houses where he lived never made any special preparations for the season. He still went to church, of course; his faith wasn’t shaken. But celebrating never felt right without family by his side. Then came the war, which left little time for holidays. Even when there wasn’t a battle to fight, Steve could never focus on the festivities of Christmas dances and dinners at the camp. There were plans to make and a war to win and Steve couldn’t afford to divide his attention, no matter how much Bucky nagged him to cut loose for once and have some fun.
The next fifty Christmases were cold, and silent, and the visions dancing in Steve’s slumbering head were never of sugarplums.
But then he awoke, and there were the Avengers — an elven sprite and a towering giant, a man as big and jolly as the Holly King himself and another gleaming like tinsel in red and gold. That first Christmas, they sat around a roaring fire in Tony Stark’s old family mansion, gazing at a tree so big and elaborate it defied Steve’s wildest 1930s imaginations. Tony poured eggnog as Jan taught Thor carols and Hank directed a parade of ants in tiny Santa hats, and Steve felt the renewal of the Christmas spirit blooming in his heart. A mammoth evergreen and the wonders of modern science wouldn’t replace his father, or his mother, or Bucky, lost in those icy waters. But for the first time since 1935, Steve Rogers was celebrating Christmas with a family he could call his own.
Helena Bertinelli doesn’t always spend Christmas in Gotham. She tries to spend it, these days, with the people she now — however grudgingly — thinks of as her family. But when the Birds are in Gotham, there’s a street Helena visits on Christmas eve. The old buildings are gone, razed in Luthor’s rebuilding and reclamation of Gotham after the hideous post-earthquake year. But, here, there was a tall warehouse. And, there, was a community center. There were the guard outposts. There the line of parked cars, all the windows smashed out.
There was the line where Petit’s men died. There was the crowd of hired goons and henchmen who followed a madman for food and warmth and power. And right here were the doors, the double doors behind which the non-combatants shivered and prayed.
Here’s where the Joker stood. Here’s where Helena fell. Here is where her blood steamed in the snow.
When Helena is in Gotham she tries to stop by the street and remember. The year Dinah catches her at it Helena finds a list in her Christmas stocking from the team. It’s a list of names — everyone in the center who survived that night because Helena fought the Joker, and lived.
So What about you? How does a favorite character celebrate the winter holidays?