This year I abandoned many of my holiday traditions. Instead of a tree, we had a decorated rosemary plant. Instead of decorating the house in a celebratory frenzy, we brought things out a bit at a time, when and as the spirit moved us. I did not make plans to have Christmas tea with one of my best buds. I did not watch any holiday movies, not even A Charlie Brown Christmas. On New Year’s Day I abandoned my beloved Gujarati black-eyed peas with mushrooms in favor of Ruth Reichl’s recipe for pork and tomatillo stew.* In short, it was the stripped-down holiday of a history buff who was under the gun. And that was just fine. Because none of those things are needed as long as we have love and music and a candle to light our way out of the winter darkness.
But I find I’ve developed a tradition here on the Margins that I’m unwilling to give up.** For the last few years in the first blog post of the year I’ve talked about the historical topics I hope/plan/expect to be thinking about in the coming year. In looking back over those posts and what actually happened over the year, I find that those plans seldom worked out. Each year I was bushwhacked by things I didn’t expect to write about. That, too, is just fine.
This year, the big plan is set. I have a year to write my global history of women warriors. I’m going to write about warrior queens, women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight, women who fought in all-female units, women who fought to liberate their countries, and few female bad-asses who fought because they wanted to. About women warriors from ancient China, the Middle East, medieval England, and 17th century Africa. Not to mention 20th century freedom fighters from here, there and everywhere.
I’ve already plunged in. At the moment, I’m looking at ancient Kazakhstan, Roman Britain, and British India.
I have no doubt there will be detours—there always are. Sometimes you find the best stuff on the detours.
Stayed tuned. Stories to follow.
*Though I wasn’t able to give up black-eyed peas on New Year’s altogether. At the last minute I scrambled to put together a small batch of peas and rice for lunch. Because who wants to mess with luck for the coming year?
**Like the best traditions, it happened unintentionally.