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.
Category: December Stories
Pride, Goblins, and Other Monsters
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
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.
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.
La Befana, the Christmas witch, and Old St. Nick sipped eggnog in front of an electric fire.
Befana said, “Here’s to generosity and goodwill.”
St. Nick said, “How long have you been giving gifts?”
“A lady never reveals her age, but I’m from that old time religion.”
Nick said, “Eons?”
“You’re right and also very wicked. I’d leave you coal in your boot, but it’s out of fashion.”
St. Nick said, “Don’t I wish. If they keep burning that stuff, the North Pole will melt away. Mermaids will replace elves in the workshop. For the sleigh, porpoises instead of reindeer.”
Grandpa, How Did You Meet Grandma?
“My favorite story.” Surrounded by many grandchildren, King Charming smiled. “I needed a wife. ‘A commoner,’ my father said. ‘Why else invite every young lady to the ball?’ ”
“It seemed fair, reasonable, and what better way to find love at first sight than a full dance card? Your grandmother appeared and before I knew it, midnight had arrived.
She hurried out of my arms and lost her crystal slipper. Touching the glamoured glass turned it to an ashy wooden sabot.
“I took it to every house in the kingdom. But it only fit your uncommon grandmother, to my great delight.”
Peace on Stage
The ballerinas found runs in their tights, tiny smelly turds in their slippers, and nibble marks on the blocks at the bottom of their satin toes. They took it as a declaration of war. But Clara insisted that evidence of merriment is a sign of the season; like peppermint sticks in a stocking, brandy in eggnog, and fireplace ashes.
She said, “Think of it, other dancers mirroring your steps at night.” They stood backstage, where telltale claw marks had opened holes in the velvet backdrop. Peeking after dark confirmed their hopes. They joined the mice to dance the night away.
Can’t Catch Me
It was the season for gingerbread. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and other delicious smells wafted through the village from the bakery at the edge of the forest. It was the year the old woman who had baked him and the old man he called father had passed.
The Gingerbread Boy kept the business going, paddling cookies in and out of the ovens. On the day he learned that the estate went to the man’s brother, who did not accept him as a nephew, the orphan decided to make headlines. He ran for his life, beating every Olympic record and securing his future.
The Golden Cake
“Ma, we’ve got a ground-floor opportunity with these magic seeds.” But, it wasn’t the partnership that had convinced Jack to trade Milky-White. It was the sweet milk the green-skinned magician coaxed from her dry udders.
“Dear fool,” his mother said, and took to her bed.
Still, they prospered. Stalks grew into the clouds where the giant harvested and ground the wheat. His wife baked cakes using milk, flour and goose eggs. Jack sold the dainties, famous for a penny-weight of gold in each, to bakeries across the kingdom.
On Sundays, an incantation transported him to Milky-White, who never aged.
“Can I help you?” Hansel noted the dated, rather dusty costume the elderly woman wore. Like Halloween instead of almost Christmas. “Cookies for the grandchildren? Or cakes?”
Her voice cracked like old parchment paper. “The gingerbread houses interest me.” Holding up a fairy tale collection, she pointed a spindly finger at the cover. “That one is mine.”
“No, I mean I designed the house.”
“No kidding.” Her hair infused with cinnamon, Gretel appeared, setting a hot tray down. “You’re an illustrator?”
“Oh, you’re here to apply for the job? It’s temporary.”
“That’s perfect,” the witch said.