Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The second day after Christmas

We tend to get our Blue Carbuncling out a little early each year, as waiting for Christmas can be hard enough for those inner children. And John H. Watson waiting until the second day after Christmas to call upon Sherlock Holmes just pushes things out a little further.  Our Sherlockian Christmas story is really a day-after-Boxing-Day story, but since all the things within it are based on a mystery that occurred on Christmas Eve, it gets by.

And yet, one has to wonder about that second day after Christmas when Watson finally calls on his best and wisest friend. Both John and Mary Watson were notable for having no kin in England, even though Watson seems to have had a wife with a visitable mother at one point, so it's hard to imagine family matters causing the delay. Something as serious as illness would not have Watson running about in the cold with Holmes once the case has begun. And it's hard to imagine Holmes being so far down the list that Watson had to call upon Thurston, Stamford, the Whitneys, etc., first.

Watson is even just stopping by on his professional rounds, calling on patients, which he has to finish before returning that evening. It's not like he planned to spend much time with Holmes, just a friendly stop to say "hi." No gift in hand or anything. If Watson had seen Holmes earlier in the holiday season, there would have been no need for the "compliments of the season." So what is going on here?

One almost wonders if Sherlock Holmes had something against Christmas, and Watson was being very respectful of that sore spot. Peterson seems to expect that Sherlock Holmes will be home on Christmas morning and up for bringing a hat and goose mystery to.

It's interesting that Holmes calls it "the season of forgiveness," something that isn't usually the first spirit that comes to mind tied to Christmas. Generosity, love, joy . . . all of those might lead the way as Christmas spirits, and while forgiveness seems appropriate, one has to wonder if there was something big Holmes had to forgive at Christmas.

Was it his subtle way of getting back to some unspoken rift that had occurred between he and John? Was it some family betrayal from his past, the likely candidate being the elder brother? Watson's call on that second day after Christmas is a prompt to launch a thousand different stories of why the delay existed. One could even fill a nice holiday volume entitled The Second Day After Christmas if one were in the anthology business with variants on the theme.

But, alas, for this year, the day after Boxing Day is still three days away and I'm already two or three "Blue Carbuncle" references in, with possibly one more to come. I just can't wait like Watson did.

No comments:

Post a Comment