Demon New Year

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“The demon lurks around the corner, under the house, under the bed. If you sleep, little one, she will drive you mad.”

“What’s mad.” The tiny child jingled coins rhythmically in a red envelope. The metallic noise soothed. He wake-dreamed of sweets from the shop where a nice old man scooped cones of syrupy ice. Eyes dropped. But something, maybe wisdom, maybe obedience kept deep dreams away.

Fearsome looking, Sui demon opened the door. Leaves swirled underfoot. She reached; she intended an evil touch.The child and his father stirred. Coins clanked together. Moonlight gave chase and Sui melted away.

When Will We Learn

Creative Commons, Eugenio Hansen, OFC
File:Martin Luther King, Jr .svg


King and Gandhi trudged across the mall in DC. January sleet muddied the streets. Instead of shadows, their spirits cast glowing light over the dark pockets between street lamps.

“You scare me.” An NRA tough pulled out a gun. 

King stopped. “That’s because you don’t know me.”

The tough cocked the gun. “I don’t need to. I’m standing my ground.”

Gandhi said, “Let us talk, son.”

“This does the talking for me.” NRA fired. 

The bullet spun between the three men, caught in a mighty vortex. King said, “Nothing is more powerful than non-violence. Now put the gun away.”

The Magi and the Cake

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Three kings emerged from a swirling storm of sand into 2023. Sand transformed to rain and wind stilled. They parked their camels in front of a cottage to munch sweet grass. 

When a woman opened the door, the smell of Gallete du Rois met them. “You came in costume.” It was like they were old friends.

They crossed the threshold and mingled. A babble of languages greeted them: a glass of wine, a piece of cake, a celebration of their gift to a child king, a toast to peace on earth. The magic of it was that all were welcome.

The Rules Suspended

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She met him in Classics 101. The Saturnalia party, his idea. The cake hers. Ginny dropped a Roman coin in the corner of the cake pan and marked the batter with food color. She would cut the cake herself and give Leo the piece that would name him Lord of Misrule. She hoped he would carry her away… wasn’t she already carried away with him?

That evening, a dozen classmates gathered in the dorm lounge before winter break for the potluck and gift exchange. Leo tasted like wine and spice when he kissed her. Thus are Saturn’s chaos seeds sown.

Candlelight

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Candlelight warms up dark days and nights, melts hearts hardened by cold wind and colder thoughts. Candles feature in solstice celebrations that have lifted spirits for centuries. The welcoming village, the holiday stories, the light of the fireplace and the smoky smell of it, the wood fire cooking traditional foods. These images burn in collective memory. They carry humanity through conflict and scarcity. Celebrations can jolt us from the amnesia that makes us forget the things we have in common.  Light emanates from churches, temples, campsites, and shelters uniting us to hope that the first flower of spring will arrive.

Pride, Goblins, and Other Monsters

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The Goblin King’s minion had failed. Hershel tricked him and kept the Hanukkah candles burning. 

“The Jew will not win again. No more miraculous nights. Darkness for Donbas.” The goblin exploded into a vortex that sucked up the atmosphere. The synagogue door shattered to splinters. “Behold my power.”

Hershel shook with fear. “I see no one. Light a candle if you’re there.”

The goblin’s pride kept him lighting the candles. He wanted respect.

Hershel led the Goblin King on until the last candle had been lit. Furious, the goblin destroyed the synagogue, but Hershel and the menorah’s light stayed strong.

Inspired by Eric Kimmel’s Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, with hope for a miracle in Ukraine. Kimmel credits a Ukrainian folktale for his inspiration. It’s turtles all the way down.

Dancing in Iron Shoes

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The silent Mirror left the Queen to reflect on what she’d done. It refused to speak the truth about her face; lined and aged and dried. Framed in the glass, unchanged was yesterday’s crone who had delivered an apple- a poisoned apple- to her stepdaughter. Once she’d rid herself of her rival, the hate seeped out through her pores.

Perhaps that rivalry was the only thing that had kept her young. 

The Queen sat in the chair by her bed. She propped her feet. She slept. It was a sleep that lasted until Prince Charming kissed Snow White alive again.

Dragon Games

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Drago hated the taste of princesses. So when his friend, Ash, promised to introduce him to one if he promised not to eat her, he agreed.

She smelled like the forest. Quite delicious. But he’d promised.

“The river is a good place to meet,” Drago said. “I mean, in case I burp.”

Ash said, “Drago….” at the same time the princess said, “Don’t you dare!”

“I’ll only fart.”

“Bet you can’t fart as many times as me,” said the princess.

Princess farts are disgusting. Drago held his breath. He flapped his wings, ascending to the heavens. He turned to stars.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

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I’m thankful that 300 years after the Treaty of New Echota was signed, the American Congress is considering seating Kimberly Teehee as a delegate from the Cherokee Nation. It shouldn’t have taken this long. Not every tribe gets a seat at the table, albeit a non-voting seat. But it is a step.

I am grateful to Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary, for her support of Native language recovery, a reversal of the agency’s historic efforts to destroy Native culture. Throughout history, language has kept subject cultures alive, preserved the dignity of their peoples, and fostered a richer experience for all.

Mom Wants You Home

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“You’re in trouble.” Lars was out of breath. “You’re gonna get grounded.”

“I’ve got to hold back the water.” Hans reached for his phone. “Here, alert the dike patrol.”

Lars took the phone and did as he was told. That was the difference between them. His brother almost never did what he was told. He was always off on an adventure. The younger one stayed home to placate their mother.

“The dike patrol, they’re coming.” Lars saw the strain in Han’s face and, surprised, saw fear in his eyes. “Can I help?”

“Tell mom where we are.”

The boy said, “I’ll hold the water. You call.”