Holidays, don’t you just love holidays? The warmth, the abundance of food, the traditions, the love. That’s maybe the most important thing—the love. Holidays bring friends and family together,everyone is basking in the warm acceptance, the understanding, the unconditional love. No? No, I dare say that’s not always the case. For Simon in From All of Us to All of You holidays are something to dread.
Two days had passed since the disaster in Hannes’ hallway; only four anxiety-free days to go. That was a lie, of course. People were already getting into their holiday cheer, which in turn spiked my anxiety. I hated holiday cheer, but I tried to be polite about it. Every time someone would wish me a Merry Christmas, I would shudder, but smile, and wish them one in return.
“I really didn’t understand why we put ourselves through it. All these expectations only led to disappointments. Everyone was stressed; parents were stressed, old people were stressed, even the children were stressed. There was so much pressure everywhere, traditions to follow, hopes and wishes to be fulfilled—no wonder alcoholics opted for staying drunk, or passed out, during the festivities. The twenty-fourth of December was the worst day of the entire year, not that I looked forward to New Year’s Eve, Easter Eve, Midsummer Eve, or any other Eve, but Christmas Eve? I wished I could wipe that date out completely.”
From All of Us to All of You is part of a holiday anthology named Boughs of Evergreen. Debbie McGowan and a few other authors found that there was a lack of non-explicit holiday stories, and the idea of the anthology was born. Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology celebrates LGBTQ diversity as well as cultural diversity.
The anthology consists of twenty-three stories written by twenty-four authors. I would gladly list them all but I’m not going to; feel free to look for yourself, though. HERE you’ll find information about all the stories from all the authors involved.
From All of Us to All of You takes place in Sweden, and you might find it strange that someone from Sweden chose to name their story after a Walt Disney movie from 1958. It’s not that odd. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. On Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. about 40% of the Swedish population sits down in front of the TV, young and old alike, to watch From All of Us to All of You, and has done so since 1960. During the hour the movie is telecast, you can’t do anything; Sweden is on a standstill.
But From All of Us to All of You isn’t only about the one hour a year when nothing happens in Sweden; it’s about how Simon copes with the anxiety that starts building on Advent Sunday, through the celebrations of Saint Lucia Day, and into Christmas Eve. But it’s also about Hannes and his journey to find and accept who he is.
“Well, dear,” she said, turning to me, “this is my son Hannes. Hannes this is Simon.” We shook hands like good little gentlemen, and added a polite nod. “Good, now you two talk, while I go and get us some more glögg.”
“Eh—” I began as she walked away.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted out. “She means well, she really does, but…you know.”
“Yeah, I’m not your type.”
“What?” Hannes looked alarmed.
“The blind-date thing, I’m not what you’re looking for.”
I pointed discreetly back and forth between us. “It’s okay, no hard feelings. It wasn’t like I asked her to set us up,” I said with a smile, even though it hurt a little to see him that taken aback by the thought of dating me.
“I’m not…she didn’t…it’s not…I’m not gay! It’s not a date…She just wants me to make some friends.”
Boughs of Evergreen isn’t only about celebrating diversity, it is also about raising money for the Trevor Project. The proceeds of the sales of the anthology, as well as the sales of the individual stories, will be donated to help their cause.
The Trevor Project is the only American organisation providing suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in crisis. Since lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide, and youth who are questioning their sexual orientation are three times more likely, this is something I find worth supporting.
If you want to help, buy the anthology! If you want to follow or make a donation outside of buying the anthology go to stayclassy.org/beatentrackpublishing
Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology is available on November 21st and the individual stories on December 1st.
Enjoy your holidays, all of them!
About the Book: Boughs of Evergreen is a two-volume collection of short stories celebrating the holiday season in all its diversity. Penned by authors from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, these are tales of the young and the not-so-young from many different walks of life.
Themes of family, friendship and romance take readers on a journey through some of the major holidays, both past and present, including Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Eid, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas and New Year. In each we find at the very least hope, and often love, peace and happiness.
“A Friend for Christmas” – J P Walker
“A Midnight Clear” – Debbie McGowan
“From All of Us to All of You” – Ofelia Gränd
“Homme for the Holidays” – Jonathan Penn
“Kiss Me At Kwanzaa” – L.L. Bucknor
“Lion’s Hero” – Alexis Woods
“One Nightstand” – Rick Bettencourt
“Shiny Things” – Amy Spector
“The Bard and his Boyfriend” – Kathleen Hayes
“The Christmas Present” – Larry Benjamin
“The Invasion of Tork” – Claire Davis and Al Stewart
“X-Mas Cake: A Modern Fairytale” – Raine O’Tierney
“A Christmas Tale” – Hans M Hirschi
“A Family Christmas” – Terry Kerr
“A Good Word” – L.M. Steel
“A Little Christmas Magic” – K.C. Faelan
“Always Have, Always Will” – Amelia Mann
“An Angel in Eyeliner” – Hunter Frost
“Boyfriend Goes Home” – Laura Susan Johnson
“Christmas Commitment” – Shayla Mist
“Coming in from the Cold” – Ava Penn
“Holidays with Drum and Bell!” – Matthias Williamson
“Te Amo, You Mushrooms” – S.H. Allan
Simon hates the Holidays. It’s the same every year—awaiting the dreaded Christmas Eve, when his father gets drunk, while the family fake Christmas spirit and strain to hear the TV over Dad’s snoring. This year, Simon’s sister is celebrating Christmas elsewhere, leaving him to deal with their parents on his own. But there’s a glimmer of hope. A work colleague introduces Simon to her son Hannes at the Lucia Day celebrations, the trouble being that Simon mistakenly believes it’s a blind date, and as if that isn’t embarrassing enough, Hannes wants them to be friends, and Simon’s starting to see signals that aren’t there.He’s beginning to wonder if he’ll make it through Christmas with his sanity intact.
About Ofelia: Ofelia Gränd is Swedish through and through. She lives in a small west coast town with her husband and their three children. She has absolutely no time to write, so, naturally, that’s what she wants to do. Have you ever tried to write something with one child in your lap and two more standing around wanting attention? Ofelia does all the time—try, that is.
She could give up her glamorous life as a stay-at-home mom, and go back to her work as a teacher. But why not take advantage of the situation when she’s living in a parental leave utopia? Enough about her being a parent, you think, and you’re quite right. Ofelia is a No ‘Poo practiser, a pescatarian who bakes her own bread and makes her own soap—now, you wished that we’d stuck to the children, don’t you?
THE GIVEAWAY: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED