‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2017 with Caleb Roehrig

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of this year’s participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Caleb Roehrig

Caleb Roehrig is a writer and television producer originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. A former actor, Roehrig has experience on both sides of the camera, with a résumé that includes appearances on film and TV—as well as seven years in the stranger-than-fiction salt mines of reality television. In the name of earning a paycheck, he has: hung around a frozen cornfield in his underwear, partied with an actual rock-star, chatted with a scandal-plagued politician, and been menaced by a disgruntled ostrich.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

My childhood, like that of Seth Cohen from The O.C., was a patchwork quilt of Jewish and Christian holidays. Untroubled by any deep spiritual commitment, they came with no real guilt or dire importance, no obligation to spend hours in a church or temple. Rather, they were opportunities to make the most of…well, everything: our togetherness, our good fortune, and a wealth of excellent culinary traditions. To quote Seth Cohen: I love the holidays. I love ‘em all!

The winter season began with Hanukkah: eight days of golden candlelight and an obligatory reminder from my mother that it was “actually a comparatively minor holiday.” Growing up without any formal religion meant that my grasp on the miracle behind the Festival of Lights was hazy at best, but we had plenty of our own rituals to follow. There were songs to sing at sundown, stacks of crispy, golden latkes to shovel into one’s mouth, and a box of multicolored candles to rifle through when it was your night to arrange the menorah. We’d take bets on which of the candles would burn out first, peel gold foil from discs of waxy chocolate, and try to decipher the handwriting on cards from our grandparents.

Once in a while, members from my mother’s family would visit and bring their own traditions — songs in Hebrew rather than English; a menorah that used lamp oil instead of candles; and sometimes an insistence on wearing yarmulkes, which never seemed to sit on my head right — but usually it was just the five of us. My parents, my sister, my brother, and me, knitting ourselves a little closer together every year.

By the time the last Hanukkah candles had burned down, we’d be well on our way to Christmas, and things would get a little more intense. Christmas was: standing in the snow at a tree farm with numb toes while my dad tried to saw through the trunk of a Douglas fir; going to see The Nutcracker with my mother, a former ballerina, and suffering delusions of competence at the art of dance for weeks after; the air in our house filling with the scents of pomander, pine, and sandalwood.

Our tree was a riot of clumsy ornaments, a scrapbook of elementary school art classes past, and every year we couldn’t wait to unbox them and relive the painful memories. There was one I made in kindergarten, on which I misspelled my own name; and a clay Santa head the size of a manhole cover, compliments of my sister, so heavy it made smaller trees list to one side. There was Santaclops, a homemade candy cane elf with one eye, planted dead center; The Mutant, a walnut shell with a beard and six eyes, crafted by my three-year-old brother; a medallion reading Merry Chrittmas, Everybody!; and a chunk of Styrofoam with pipe cleaner arms, which defied identification. None of it was pretty, but all of it was very us.

And then the holiday would arrive. There would be a forty-minute drive out to my older sister’s farmhouse in the country for a party on Christmas Eve, every room decorated to capacity, carols playing beneath the hum and chatter of family and friends. The air would be warm from a table of steaming appetizers, and I’d walk laps around it all evening long. At the end of the night would be the gift exchange, boxes hurled one way and gratitude hurled the other, conversation barely audible over the sounds of shredding paper and new toys buzzing to life.

Back at home, we’d spend a little mandatory quiet time in front of the fireplace as a family, before going to bed. And after a few restless hours, we’d race from our rooms before dawn to behold the tree in its proper majesty, spilling rosy light over gifts wrapped in shiny paper. My dad always insisted on a drawn-out breakfast before we could open our presents, a meal that drove me nuts as a kid, but which I grew to appreciate more and more as years went by — as I came to better understand that the holidays were less about things and more about people.

As we got older, the traditions gradually fell away. My brother and sister both have kids now, which means new rituals are being created every year; and when my husband and I lived overseas, coming home for the holidays was too expensive, and we developed customs of our own. And even if I miss some of the magic that I felt as a kid, I’m lucky to see that same magic in the expressions of my nieces and nephews now. Hearing a five-year-old tell you a story that you first heard from your grandfather — a man that child never got to meet — gives you hope that some traditions will last forever.

And isn’t that what the holidays are truly about?

Title White Rabbit
Author Caleb Roehrig
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Mystery, Thriller, M/M Romance
To Be Published April 24th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life.

It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox — but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

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