Every year, when Thanksgiving rolls around, I begin to get nervous, because–in many ways–I really do hate Christmas. I hate the awful canned music one hears in stores. It’s bad enough when they massacre the old-fashioned carols, but when they play "upbeat," modern Christmas tunes like "Jingle Bells," or "Frosty the Snowman," I start to feel queasy.

Then there are the decorations. As of last week, where we live, a lot of people hadn’t yet taken down their Halloween decorations, and I’m sure their Christmas decor will stay up just as long. Outdoor lights are kind of fun, actually, but what I really hate are those huge, blow-up Santas, sleighs and snowmen that adorn so many roofs and lawns.

It’s really the DAY AFTER that I hate, and the one I hated the most was in 1985, when we spent the holiday at our cabin in upstate New York, when Whitley had some strange memories and showed me a mark that was bothering him on the back of his neck, which I identified immediately as a puncture mark of some kind.

Our lives changed completely on that day, and not always for the better. After Whitley wrote "Communion," we were physically menaced by our neighbors and became fodder for the nastiness of numerous UFO "researchers."

The irony is that Whitley was finally making the transition he had desired for years. He started out as a horror writer because every publisher was looking for another Stephen King. He had coauthored "WarDay," which the late Ted Kennedy advocated and which may have played a part in averting another war.

The follow-up, "Nature’s End," was an early warning about climate change. He stopped writing a literary adventure novel, set in Russia, in order to write "Communion." He wrote it simply because it was something interesting and unexplained that had happened to him, and he assumed that other people would be interested in it too. However, it temporarily ended his fiction career, because publishers wanted nothing but nonfiction about the Visitors for years afterwards.

It took him years to painfully rebuild his fiction career, but he was never able to patch things up with book reviewers and their publications, who have obviously vowed never to review one of Whitley’s books ever again–even if they have nothing to do with the Visitors. This is a real handicap for someone who is trying to make a living as an author. No other author who sells as many books as Whitley does is ignored to this degree.

This isn’t a life that either of us chose or would have chosen, yet it’s brought us both great gifts. We experience plenty of prejudice–our local church, for instance, has completely spurned all our offers to work on their charitable projects, and I suspect that many potential friends think better of getting together with us when they recognize our last name.

Conversely, there are the people who want to exploit us and these aren’t real friends either.

Yet I’ve met so many extraordinary people too. I receive an email or feel a tug on my sleeve, and turn around and there is yet another person who wants to tell me something absolutely mind-blowing. Not many people have the privilege of being trusted with so many secrets to this extents and I find it awesome to be in this position.

You don’t always get to choose your path in life. You think you do, but then you make what seems like a short turn in a different direction and everything changes. That’s what I learned in the years following the day after Christmas 25 years ago.

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  1. The town you live in is a
    The town you live in is a very political one, it’s pretty typical to be kept out of things socially if your not a native. I would’t take it personally. Most of those that grow up there develop life long cliques of friends, there is some resentment toward all those who have moved there from the outside over the years. It used to be just another Cali Beach town, no more. All that is gone now, some people resent that.

  2. I agree that Christmas can be
    I agree that Christmas can be very annoying these days. It starts in September in the stores! Crazy.

    Thank you for this thoughtful writing. I have nothing mind-blowing to add. 😉 But, I can say ‘thank you’ to you both. Thank you.

  3. Kind of and interesting and
    Kind of and interesting and brave stand, Anne:)
    I have personal access to only a handful of people thru the days and then some by phone
    because of health reasons, I am healthbound, but I was really surprised how many of this select handful said “It doesn’t seem like Christmas anymore”..probably for the reasons you mentioned.
    I am 70 years and , while my childhood was very poor, around me, nature, etc..was very beautiful.
    You could even eat the snow back then. And many of us did…that delicious coldness on the tongue and down the throat…I can almost feel it.
    My aunt would tell the story of when she was a child and they would scoop up the new snow and pour canned evaporated milk over it and it became instant ice cream.
    I loved going to “town”…even though we didn’t purchase much what we did get was such a joy. And the energy was delightful…people hustling about with packages piled high smiling and wishing strangers Merry Christmas.
    Anne, when the modern day version of Christmas dulls your senses, send your memory back in time and find what made you happy , way back when.
    Actually, I am pretty grumpy around the holidays…they seem so false…but reading your post and reading what I just wrote…I realize I have so much to be thankful for.
    If I live for another Christmas…I will remember the good and let that light shine thru me…thank you Anne:) V.

  4. Oh Anne I do understand what
    Oh Anne I do understand what you mean, the tackiness of it. And then I look at the pictures (thank God for facebook) and see absolute joy in the eyes of my new grandchild who is experiencing her first Christmas on the other side of the world and know that hope, love, and innocence are born anew with every generation, no matter in what circumstances or time they are born. That is the only reason Christmas was so wonderful when we were young – not because it ‘really’ was. I am sure that our parents, struggling under the weight of depression and war felt that Christmas was not what it used to be either. I understand also what Whitley is saying about joy. Even though I rarely feel it anymore, I understand it is right there at my elbow if I could understand how to enter that state once again. Then it would be ‘first Christmas’ again, no matter what. Best of wishes for the coming, perhaps momentous, year ahead of us. And thank you thank you thank you for your continuing, unrewarded efforts.

  5. I feel blessed to live in
    I feel blessed to live in part of a large Bay Area town that is isolated from the main part. It’s actually more of an older villiage with a rural atmostphere. When someone is in need , injured or lack warm clothing or food, all come together to fill that need – all year long. Do we have disagreements? of course, but they just seem to resolve themselves without much ado. The homeless that drift into our little village are not treated as pariahs but respected and helped when possible. It is all encompassing – people from so many diverse backgrounds blue collar, techies, folks, redneck, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Indian. Christmas is always very special with a huge live tree in the town square. It makes me laugh because we are so diverse yet cohesive..a mixture of Whoville and T’V’s Eureka with a little Norman Rockwell thrown in. I feel blessed. Strangely, when I was a little girl of about 7 and passing by on the way to vacation in mountains on a then two-lane road, I vividly remember looking back at a very short palm-lined street with red roses at their feet …I now have lived just two blocks from there for the past 40 years. Coincidence? Perhaps. Thank you Whit and Anne and those on the board, I think you of as extended family and part of our “village.”

  6. People love everyday life
    People love everyday life until they weepingly realise the world is not what they thought. By that time it is too late, but they don’t appreachiate any early warnings for some reason. Much like the politicians or the church which some see as their guide in life. So take care.
    One day the sheeple will wake up to the reality those who subscribe here know about. I would much rather know the truth now (thanks to this site) than cry later when the world of politics and religion collapses. But the majority prefer lies and ignorence and are unapprechiative or maybe just not aware of that they live in a small corner of the real world. Maybe 2012 will be the year of frontal collisions between the deniers and those with open eyes. Hopefully that will end the cruelty, the lies and the little games people play. The church is a master of these things throughout history I think. The world is a disaster zone and people shield themselves and don’t want to be waken up.

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