Previous mention of a virtual friend's unhappy holidays. His live-in GF experienced health issues, he took her to the hospital, and...she died (age 58).
Early this morning he posted this (excerpts below). All these references to the Dickens Fair made me look it up. "A Victorian Christmas card come to life," four weekends of re-created fun, including a dance hall (my type of dancing) called Fezziwig's. So this morning I spent a pleasant hour perusing their website and thinking about what I might do next year, maybe combine it with a bicycle tour. The last sentences truly epitomize what the holiday season should be all about.
Sunday: Dressed in black trousers, black shirt with white pinstripes and white collar, black plush tie, dark brown waistcoat (with coppery highlights), black sack coat. ... headed off ... to Dickens Fair....
More friends and acquaintances; more waltzes, more fun. Met someone in person I'd only encountered electronically and had a nice waltz with her... Meet an old waltz partner at the end of a set... Had an extremely nice schottische (words rarely spoken) with [name]. Bailed out on the Royals set and escaped to Mad Sal's to see the last show for this year of the Broadside Music Hall. Was introduced to [event organizer]; didn't have the wit to thank him for organizing Dickens Fair. High levels of goofiness going on; at one point I saw a gang of Dickensian zombies rampaging through the food court.
Last Fezzi's set went half an hour long. (Got in a four-couple Roger de Coverly which we turned sideways to the other sets, and it was pretty cool.) Had a dazed, wonderful, cramped but magical very last waltz of Dickens. Stayed through Hallelujah Chorus; accompanied the very kind Beth on caroling out - a parade through the mostly empty halls. I was prepared finally to leave at about 8 pm when Dave invited me to stay for the after-party. Didn't have to ask me twice!
(I had no idea how many of the ladies would shuck their outer garments as soon as the big curtain fell! But it had become backstage.)
I probably had too much champagne and then too much gin punch. After speeches and presentations and reminiscences, Dave threw the floor open for other toasts. After hearing several - a graceful tribute to the working-class heroes among them - I decided I wanted to speak.
I'd meant to talk about how Fezziwig's is the best thing in the world; how it's full of people being kind and watching out for each other, sharing the joy of music and dance with all comers and trying their best to leave no one out, and I meant to say how much I appreciated not just the kind ladies who danced with me, but all of them who kept this wonderful thing happening. I started out saying that unlike the other speakers I wasn't a cast member, but like others I'd had major losses this year, that I'd been coming to Fair since it was on the pier, and that Fezziwig's had always been my happy place - which was where I thought I was going to say what was so great about it, but what happened was that I started crying and barely held it together enough to say "thank God that Fezziwig's has been here" and closed with "Happy Christmas," by which time I was being hugged by three people at once with a fourth unable to find a spot to hug (so I hugged her later). And then Josh started chaffing me for having said I wasn't part of this group, of course I was, and David put me in the class of spiritual Fezziwiggers, and the whole thing left me moved beyond description.
(I was not a popular little boy, and most of my experiences prior to science-fiction fandom made me think that not only nobody liked me but that if they acted like they liked me they were doing it to set me up for something bad. This makes me usually pretty slow to move from acquaintance to friend, dubious about accepting concern and help, prone to keep some emotional distance, and leaves me vulnerable as hell to Sally-Fieldism - "You like me. You really like me!" when something like this happens. I'm having, now, to trust people who want to help me, and to let them figure out what's too much to ask and not spend so much time figuring out whether we are on such terms that what they're offering is too much to accept. I'm writing right now about the Fezziwig's cast, but I've been getting, and appreciate, tremendous amounts of support from other communities and getting to be more open and engage more open-heartedly.)
... tried to process all of that. I'd learned that some things I've done have come back to me to great benefit - Dave told me that his first exposure to the historical(ish) dance done at Fezziwig's was dancing to my calling of Regency dances at science-fiction conventions. I was and am thankful that Dickens Fair existed, that so many people - old friends and new ones - have been kind to me during the run of the fair, that I've met new ones and deepened friendships with people I've been acquainted with a long time. I hope I can stay as open-hearted as I find myself now, and accept and connect with other people on this kind of level (without being the walking-wounded person I kind of am now).
And all of you still reading this: I hope that for you too, that you have more people who care about you than you know, and that you find out about it and can accept it. Be excellent to each other. Happy Christmas.