Holiday Journey 21

Chris had to sit down.  He sat on the front pew, then moved over to give Santa room to sit.  He looked at his hands and sat in silence for what felt like a long time, though it was actually not long at all.

“You are asking me if I want to take over being Santa?” Chris asked.  “For the next two hundred years?”

“Eleven o’clock,” Santa said, and nodded, and pointed at the stained-glass window at the front of the church.  He sat beside Chris and continued.  “I apologize. Given the modern mass media, the image and traditions of Santa have been pretty well set in stone.  You probably won’t have much ability to shift things, at least at first.  But Santa needs some new blood.  Traditions can grow stale.  The first shepherd, Joel, said he soon realized different people would develop different traditions and celebrations, but he said that was a good thing.  When the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches split, Sinterklaas made it work—even when the Romans tried to drag the celebration back to December sixth, he made it work.  As long as the Christ child remained the reason for the season, as they say.”

“That idea has struggled of late,” Chris said.

“You can read about it in the Christmas book,” Santa said, and pointed to a big, open book on a stand, up front, opposite the podium.  “My predecessors have long speculated whether at twelve o’clock there will be a twelfth Santa, or if that may be when the Christ returns.” Santa shrugged.  “I’m sorry I won’t be here to see it, but you can tell me how it turns out when you get there… So?”

“Well… I lost my job.  I lost my apartment.  I would have lost Lilly if she hadn’t been kidnapped… Times being what they are… Yes,” Chris said.  “But I hope I don’t screw it up.”

Santa patted Chris on the shoulder.  “Just do your best.  In the end, that is all that any of us can do.”  He paused, and they both looked up.

A light appeared around the altar, and grew until Chris and Santa could not keep their eyes open.  Both men trembled in the presence of what was holy.  The light soon settled into the image of a person, but that felt worse in a way.  That person was not only holy, that person was also pure and good in a way no human could be.

“It is settled.” the Christmas Angel said, but kindly made it sound like a question.

“Yes,” Santa stood.

“Good,” the Christmas Angel said, and appeared to smile.  A woman called.

“Santa. Victor.”

“Coming, dear,” Santa responded, as a ghostly image of an old woman appeared to come to the edge of the light.  Santa did not hesitate to step into the light, and as he did, both his and her images faded until they disappeared altogether.

Chris lowered his head, and the angel spoke again.  “Tell me.”

“Lord,” Chris began, and found some tears in his eyes.  They were tears for his hard life, his family that went before him, for all of the people around the world that still lived without hope.  He thought one good day per year was not too much to ask.  One day where people remembered the Lord and did good for one another would be the least the fallen human race could do.  “I don’t think I can do this alone,” Chris said.  “I need Merry, and Lilly, and all the others.”

Chris did not see the angel smile ever so slightly as the angel vanished once again in the light.  Chris just sat on the pew, and felt all the love, joy, and peace rush into his heart. Then he did cry.

 

Cue: White Christmas

A Holiday Journey, The London Symphony Orchestra

conducted by Don Jackson.  Ó℗CD Guy Music Inc., 2001

 

The front door flew open when the angel fully vanished.  Chris wiped his eyes as he heard a voice shout, “Uncle Chris!” He turned and saw Merry, who ran, but stopped a few feet away.  Plum and Roy stayed in the door, but removed their hats.  He saw a fairy land beside Merry, and change from a little, fluttering person, to a fully adult woman, more beautiful than an ordinary human woman ought to be.  And he felt something like a little bug, hugging his cheek and nose.

“Woah,” Chris said.  He had to be careful, but he grabbed the fairy around her legs and gently pulled her off his face.

“Lilly,” the fairy woman spoke.  “You need to come here and get big so your Uncle Chris can see you.”

“Yes mother,” Lilly said, and she did that very thing, and smiled briefly at Merry, who smiled right back at her.

Chris looked at Lilly, furrowed his brow and frowned a bit, but everyone could see the love in that frown.  “You ran away without telling me,” he said, gruffly.

“Uncle Chris…” Lilly did not know what to say, but Merry stepped forward and cut off her childish excuses.

“My fault,” Merry confessed.  “She is a half-fairy, a half Christmas fairy.”  Merry looked at Chris with big, sad eyes.  “Lilly was suffocating in the entirely human world, cut off from the magic that flows in her blood.  That was why she got sick, and especially bad in the Christmas season.  She is very young, and ageing more like a fairy, too. She is nearly seven, but measures small; more like a four-year-old…”  Merry let her voice trail off as she realized she was making excuses, herself.

Chris dropped to one knee and held open his arms to his little girl.  “Merry Christmas,” he said, and Lilly rushed into his hug. She returned his Merry Christmas.

Chris stood, took Lilly’s hand, and stepped up to Serissa, who did not know what to expect, but finally lowered her eyes.  Chris just smiled all the more.  He caught Serissa in a hug and repeated, “Merry Christmas,” and added, “Sister.”

Serissa found some happy tears and returned, “Merry Christmas.”

As Chris stepped back, he said, “Saying the words is right and good, but I think people should give Christmas hugs, too.”  He looked at Roy and Plum.

Roy leaned over and hugged Plum, and said, “Merry Christmas.”

“Same,” Plum said, and returned the hug, briefly, before he pulled back, brushed off his coat like restoring his dignity, and said, “We have some special deliveries tonight, it being actual Christmas Eve.  There are not many, but they are the hard and dangerous ones Santa always insisted on handling.  I don’t know what you want to do.” Plum struggled hard to hold his tongue after that.

Chris nodded, but said, “First things first.”  He turned to Merry.

“I have been made human,” Merry said, and added, “It is different.”

“You don’t mind not being an elf anymore?” Chris asked.

Merry shook her head and lowered her eyes like Serissa.  “It is what I prayed for.”

“Good,” Chris said in a voice straight and clear, without the least hint of what he might be thinking.  He came out with it.  “Will you marry me, Merry?”

“Yes,” she said, dropped one tear, and looked up at him in time to be wrapped up in his arms.  Chris kissed her, and she returned everything in her heart.  They would say Merry Christmas in a minute, or perhaps a few minutes.

 

Cue: closing credits …

Cue: Here We Come a Wassailing

A Holiday Journey, The London Symphony Orchestra

conducted by Don Jackson.  Ó℗CD Guy Music Inc., 2001

 

END

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MONDAY

Avalon, Season Six will post, 13 episodes over 24 weeks, or roughly a new episode every 2 weeks.

The travelers came to the beginning of history on a rescue mission.  Now, to get home, the travelers must follow the Amulet of Avalon that points the way to the next time gate.  They move through time zones that center around the many lives of the Kairos, the traveler in time, the watcher over history, a person who never lives a quiet life.

They have unlimited vitamins, elf crackers, for their health; and unlimited bullets, which are needed far too often.  They ride mustangs brought back from the old west, and wear fairy weave clothing they can shape and change with a word in order to blend into the local culture.   By a special gift of the Kairos, they can understand and be understood no matter the local language.  It helps, because inevitably they deal with thieves, brigands, armies and empires, gods and monsters, spirits and creatures, space aliens and the great unknown. They try hard not to disturb history. To be sure, all they want is to get home in one piece, but they are not the only ones lost in time.  Some of the others lost in time want to follow them or even go with them.  Some want to fight them, or hunt them, and not everything lost in time is human.

The Avalon Series is written in short story (episodic) form, but designed to be converted to visual form, either a television show, anime, or graphic novel.  As such, like any television show, it is not difficult to pick up in the middle and follow along.  One (or two) episodes is enough to grasp the concept and begin to get to know the characters.  If you are seriously worried about starting in season 6, you can find the prequel, the Free pilot episode, and the early seasons as E-books at the major retailers.  Thank you for your support.

So, as always, until Monday…

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Holiday Journey 12

Chris nodded.  “To be honest, I am afraid if I question too much, I may wake up back in my apartment, Lilly still gone, and me with no way of ever finding her as you all vanish.”

“I won’t desert you,” Mary said abruptly, and Chris took and held her hand beneath the table, which made her smile, the tears long forgotten.

“You say it is 1965.  That makes no sense whatsoever, but okay.  Where do we go from here?  I hope we don’t have to go all the way back to a manger in Bethlehem, because that might take longer than a week.”

“No,” Plum said between scoops of pudding.  “Not nearly that far.”

Roy nudged Plum, but Plum took a moment to lick his pudding bowl before he moved. “We need to find which route they have taken,” Roy said.

“That’s right,” Plum agreed.  “We will cover the bill, so no worries on that score.  Your money wouldn’t work here, anyway, unless you have some really old bills.  We will catch you up in the morning.  I recommend some good sleep.  We may have a long day of travel tomorrow.”

As they headed off, Mary fidgeted in her seat, like one looking for a comfortable spot on the booth bench.  Chris pushed in so their sides touched and he pushed Mary right up to the window.  She could not escape.  She looked at him, and the anxiety returned to her face.  This time, she did not look surprised by what he asked.

“Are they human?”  Chris had begun to let his imagination run wild.  He thought maybe Lily got abducted by time traveling aliens, and he…and Mary…got lucky to find a couple of aliens that did not approve of kidnaping.

Mary sat silently staring up at Chris for what seemed like an eternity.  Chris stared back and revised things in his mind. He decided she might be as old as twenty-three, and not the eighteen he first thought.  Twenty-three would be a reasonable age for someone who was twenty-eight.  He shouldn’t feel like he was robbing the cradle.

Finally, Mary shook her head, but said nothing.  She turned her eyes to her coffee and worried her cup.

“So, they are aliens?” Chris said, with a straight face.

Mary let out a laugh, and a touch of spit which she just caught with her finger, and then her napkin.  “No,” she said, and once again turned her smiling face to look at him.  He looked curious.  She told him.  “They are elves.  They are Christmas elves, which is why I believe they can take us to Lilly, if anyone can.”  Mary watched Chris’ curious eyebrows go up.  “And clearly, they are morons, too,” she added.

“No,” Chris countered.  “Roy seems to have a brain.”

“Yes,” Mary said.  “But he mostly doesn’t use it.  He just goes along with whatever Plum says, and Plum says too much.”

“He does like to talk,” Chris said.

Mary laughed and nodded.  Chris decided he was not ready to ask Mary how she knew Plum and Roy were Christmas elves. He did not want to consider asking about herself for fear of the answers, so instead, he took her hand and pulled her from the booth.

“We need to rest, as Plum said.”  He took her outside, and she did not resist him.  They got to the sidewalk, Mary holding tight to his hand.  Chris did not want to let go of her hand.  He distracted himself as an elderly black woman walked by on the sidewalk.  She looked about fifty, in a thin winter coat and wearing a plain hat, and she carried several Christmas presents in her hands as she headed toward the parking lot. He said, “Merry Christmas.”

The woman looked startled, but only for a moment.  She turned her head, and the serious and sad look left her face and got replaced by a smile.  “Merry Christmas,” she returned, and kept walking.

Mary tugged on Chris’ sleeve to regain his attention.  “You have questions?”  Her voice sounded flat, like she knew he had questions, and she was prepared to answer whatever he asked.

Chris looked at her and nodded.  “How old are you?”

For the third time, Mary did not expect that question.  “How old do you want me to be?” she answered, and grinned on the inside.  The grin nearly burst out of her, but they got interrupted.  The old woman got stopped at the edge of the parking lot by bikers.  Two blocked her way and the gothic looking girl behind them laughed to watch.  When one of the bikers knocked the Christmas packages out of the old woman’s hand, Chris ran to them.  Mary followed.

“Hey,” Chris yelled to get their attention.  “Come on, guys.  It’s Christmas,” he said.  He bent down to pick up one of the packages, so Mary helped.  ‘Give it a break for one day a year at least.  Okay?”  Chris looked over the lot and saw a policeman by his car, just three cars in.  The policeman watched, but did not appear inclined to do anything, so Chris shouted to him, “It’s Christmas.”

“Who the hell are you?” one of the bikers asked.

“She’s a negro,” the other said, as if that justified anything, and the gothic girl, who looked remarkably like a gothic version of Courtney, looked angry.

“She is a human being,” Chris responded.  “She is a good Christian woman who deserves better than hassles on Christmas Eve.”

One of the bikers looked ready to raise a fist, but the policeman decided to come over. “Okay boys,” the policeman said. “Move along.  You need to take your fun somewhere else.”

The biker fist unclenched, and they did not argue.  They got on their bikes.  The gothic Courtney still looked angry as she sat behind the big one, and they roared off. Mary handed the last package to the woman.

“Thank you,” the woman said, and smiled.  “Merry Christmas,” she said again, before she glanced at the policeman and hurried to her car.

“Merry Christmas,” Mary responded.

“And a very merry Christmas to you, too, officer,” Chris said, as he caught Mary’s hand and walked her toward the motel.

The policeman’s annoyed face softened, and he responded with the same before returning to his patrol car.

Mary got serious when they came to the motel doors.  They had rooms beside each other, but despite the long day, Mary did not appear ready to go to bed.  “You have questions?”  She tried again.

Chris hesitated, but only for a moment as he put his hands to Mary’s shoulders and looked into her eyes.  “Nothing that can’t wait” he said, leaned down, and kissed her.  He went in his room right away, and left her outside her own door, in the cold, where she looked up at the stars with those big eyes and gently touched her own lips.

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MONDAY

A Holiday Journey:  1965, and the journey has just begun.

Until next time, I hope you get in some Happy Reading

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