When she was younger, all her friends looked forward to the winter break. They talked about the holiday, whichever they celebrated, and plans their families had, and were excited enough they never seemed to notice she didn’t join in. Even now, she wasn’t certain if she had wanted them to, or if it was just easier to have it ignored. It wasn’t that her family didn’t celebrate any holidays, Yule was a holiday after all, and there was gift giving and parties and everything they were talking about, so she should have been able to join in.
But of course, they talked about elves and Santa Claus and everyone in class knew what they were, even her. She even had some passing understanding of the menorah, though not nearly as strong a grasp. No one in her class, however, would know what to make of the Burning Year Watch, and she hadn’t ever wanted to explain.
It was not, so far as she knew, a tradition among any family save her own. It was possible, of course, there were others, as reluctant to talk as she was, but a part of her thought they’d have shown up in books and stories if that were the case.
In any case, there was something about the Watch that inspired silence, reverence, and that didn’t seem in keeping with the spirit of the season as all her friends understood it. Yule was, of course, the season of rebirth, the returning of life to the world, but very few people seemed to understand the cycle could end.
There was always a choice, when the wheel came around again, not to tick over, not to keep going. There was always the option of burning it all to the ground. So though her family celebrate, though there were presents and parties and hope, in the darkest part of the night, they opened their doors and welcomed the Watch, and held their breath as they waited to see if this, at last, was the Burning Year.
It never had been. Obvious, of course, as she was older now and everything was still just as it was, but the prospect loomed ever larger in her mind as each year went on. The more she saw of the world, the more it crumbled around her, the more she began to hope not that the cycle would continue, but that this, at least, would be the time to put it all to end. It was a cycle that should not perpetuate, a broken system limping along and causing suffering on the way.
Her brother had children, she did not. He hoped every year for the next to come, she wished the hear the words that would put it to rest. All the same, she celebrated with her nieces and nephews. She showed her family all the love she had for them, so they would know it, if she at last got her wish, before the end.