Once upon a time, I wrote fairytales, all set in the future. They were all about how screwed-up our holidays had become. They were all about humanity’s failures, but most importantly, they were about rediscovering truth.
I’m sharing with you this Sunday the first one I penned, entitled “The Truth About Tinsel.” I was reminded of it this past week when penning a short quadrille on the topic of tinsel. When this story grows up, it wants to be a picture book. But for now, I’m pleased to present it to my dear readers here in two parts this holiday season. Enjoy!
The Truth About Tinsel
Once upon wintertime, there was a little girl named Tinsel who hated Christmas. Actually, to be more precise, she hated the sights and smells of Christmas. The tastes of Christmas, she loved quite dearly.
Every Christmas Day, she would join her mother and her two older sisters, Anise and Holly, for the sad and sacred Procession of the Resting. Bundled up in their warmest coats, they would join the other families of the resting and start their long walk to the morgue to pay their respects to the souls slumbering within its frozen drawers, one of which held her beloved father.
Grandmother, now 204, would remind Tinsel, twisting the lid of her favorite jar, “We’re lucky, dear. We no longer have just life and death, but the option to rest. And for this, we are truly blessed,” and she would reach her brittle fingers into the cylinder and give Tinsel one sacred candy cane.
Now, these sweet treats were long since forgotten by most of the world, as they drifted between years of living and resting, spending every penny to avoid dying. But to Tinsel, this peppermint treat was the most precious gift of the year. Wrapped in crinkly cellophane, this majestic staff held a sweet, red swirling staircase, not much different from the winding stairs of the morgue. Christmas Day, the saddest day of the year, was spent circling and remembering the resting souls all the way down twenty-five flights of mortuary stairs.
Tinsel joined all the families of the resting at the Morgue doors. The lead mortician emerged to speak. “Today, we respect the resting. The tired souls, needing respite, and so we hold a vigil on this special night. Remember, silence is the highest form of respect for those that choose to lay in rest.”
It was the same speech every year, and Tinsel was grateful to hear the sucking in and out of the candy cane and the slight crinkle of the paper between her fingers over this worn-out speech.
The morgue vestibule smelled sickly sweet with a lingering odor of disinfectant. Tinsel paused, hoping the procession might forget her outside in the snow and that she might for the first time in nine years of living avoid the slow, spiraling descent into the mortuary of the resting. But Anise nudged her forward to lead the line of loved ones marching in remembrance.
Tinsel took her candy cane and ran it along the bars of the stairwells as they started their descent. She liked the sound it made like the chiming of tiny bells and stuck the candy further through the holes to try and enhance the sound. When Holly bumped her from behind, she couldn’t help but cry out softly as her precious candy cane fell twenty-five flights down, making a weak shatter on the morgue’s final floor.
Tinsel gripped the bars. This was the worst Christmas of them all. The procession busied themselves in lighting candles for the resting, and before anyone could notice, Tinsel tip-toed a few steps, then took off after her precious candy cane, spiraling the twenty-five stairwells like a kid on a well-worn sled path.
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To Be Continued