Archive for December 19th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 19

December 19 – Aunt Margie and Uncle Art

As Ember moved to the back of the dias, no doubt to discuss something with Old Man Winter, Molly saw her Aunt Margie and Uncle Art were stepping up to the tree. Aunt Margie had run CrossWind Books since before Molly and her brother Nathan were born, while Uncle Art had run the farm he’d inherited from his father. Now, Molly wondered which of the numerous ornaments Aunt Margie had brought.

“I’ve lived here all my adult life,” Aunt Margie said, looking out over the crowd of her friends and neighbors. “I came as a young wife, and I was adopted by all of you, and I am so proud to be a part of this community.” She carefully pulled out a small bundle and began to unwrap it.

What is it? Schrodinger asked, but the grey fog was wrapping around he and Molly again. When the fog cleared, they were standing alone in the midst of white birches and evergreens during one of those picture-perfect snow storms that came once or twice every winter.

Or so it seemed at first. There were snowflakes falling, and that deadened both noise and made it hard to see.

Then Schrodinger nudged her leg. Look to your left.

Molly turned, and there was her Aunt Margie and Uncle Art. They were standing together, dressed in warm clothes, with mugs of something steaming in their hands, on the deck that her uncles and grandfather and cousins had built one summer before she was born. The deck looked very new, and there weren’t any streaks of white in her aunt’s hair, or laugh lines on her face. In fact, she looked hardly older than Molly.

“Do you think we’ll see them today?” Aunt Margie asked.

“We should,” Uncle Art said. “The boys and I heard them when we were taking the cows back to the shed last night, and the night before.” He slipped his free hand around her waist. “And once they do show…”

“If they show,” she said.

“When they show, it will be time to get the decorations out and start the holiday,” Uncle Art finished. 

What are they talking about? Schrodinger asked. What are they waiting for?

“Just watch,” Molly said. “You’ll see.”

And then, through the gently falling snow, there was movement. The snowy owl that winged its way out of the trees hooted gently as it swooped between the flakes, circling the house three times before it ghosted away. 

“They still wait for her,” Molly said, as the scene started to fade. “The decorations at their farm don’t come out until the Christmas owl is seen.”

Aunt Margie finished unwrapping the beautifully carved snowy owl and handed it to Jade. “This owl has greeted us every Christmas season,” she said. “When we see her after Thanksgiving, we know it’s time to celebrate. It’s one of our signs that everything is right with the world.”

Advent 2021 – December 18

December 18 – Ember

The next person to bring up an ornament made their entrance by air. Molly, Drew, and Schrodinger joined in the general applause as the elegant blue-scaled dragon they all knew as Ember landed lightly in front of the tree.

I know I’m not an actual resident of the Cove, the dragon said. But I did want to give an ornament as well.

“You are most certainly a resident!” Gideon said stoutly, pushing back through the crowd. Zoey, and Molly’s own two nieces Lily and Kaylee stood beside him, all nodding their heads. “Just because you don’t live right on Main Street doesn’t mean anything.”

“Which is good, because nobody lives on Main Street,” Lily said to Zoey.

“Do we HAVE a Main Street?” Zoey asked.

“Nope,” Lily said. “Which is why no one lives there.”

Jade smiled at all of them as the crowd, even Gideon, laughed. “Even still, he’s right,” the Snow Queen said. “I couldn’t imagine the tree without something from you.”

Thank you, Ember said, inclining her head. Dragons do not normally celebrate Christmas as you do, but we do celebrate.

As the fog wrapped about them, Molly wondered what they would see. The grey cleared from her eyes, and she gasped.

She’d half-expected to see Ember’s snug cavern in the hills near the Snow Queen’s castle, or perhaps the stables of the mansion Drew had stayed in when they first met Old Man Winter. Instead, she and Schrodinger stood in a large hall, the ceiling lost into the gloom high above them. The floor was rock, worn smooth by hundreds of footsteps over who knew how many millennia. A large fireplace was off to their left, where flames danced over a pile of logs that might as well have been whole trees. Molly looked a bit closer, and realized that instead of actual flames, what were dancing on the wood were beings made entirely of flame, small creatures that whirled and leapt with joyous abandon. She turned back to the center of the room to see what else was there.

There were dragons, of course, but Molly had never dreamed that she would see so many in the same place. Dragons of every size and color congregated together in groups of two to twenty, and even still, the cavern seemed immense and endless. Some held cups in their hands and talked, while others lounged on piles of whatever they appeared to want. While Molly wasn’t quite sure she’d want to wrap herself around a spiky outcropping of what looked like quartz crystal, the red dragon who had claimed that spot was obviously comfortable, as its eyes were closed to slits, and something that sounded like a faint snore accompanied the wisps of smoke coming from its nostrils.

Look! There’s Ember!

Schrodinger’s voice pulled her attention from the dragon and she turned. It was indeed Ember, although she was larger than Molly had ever seen her. And there’s another mystery solved, she thought. I always wondered why she was so small. It was because she wanted to be, not because she was young.

You mean you didn’t know that? Schrodinger sounded surprised. I’ve known that since the beginning. Dragons would never let a young dragon of that size out on their own.

You clearly have more experience with dragons than I do, Molly told him. 

Ember had dropped from the ceiling, just as she’d dropped from the sky into the square, landing near one of the clusters of topaz and golden dragons that were busy doing something that their wings hid from Molly.

What’s the status? One of the dragons looked up at Ember, their brown eyes bright.

They’re coming in now, Ember said. You’ve got about two more minutes before that needs to be ready.

Luckily, we’re ready now, the other dragon said, bobbing its head in satisfaction. Is it still magnificent?

Of course it is, Ember said. He wouldn’t let it fail.

Then everyone’s attention was caught by movement in the back of the room. Six dragons, three green and three red, flew in, carrying something massive in a harness between them. The dragons on the ground stepped away from the area Ember stood near, and Molly saw the ground looked churned up, making a huge hole in the ground.

Be careful! The golden dragon that had spoken to Ember now reared up, using its wings to keep its balance. Don’t break it!

We’ve done this before, Kallix, one of the red dragons said. Believe it or not.

Molly and Schrodinger watched as the two foremost dragons dropped the edges of the harness down to just above the hole. A huge ball of roots and dirt slid out, and then, with just a bit of guidance from the dragons, a massive evergreen tree settled into the ground. Kallix raised its front legs and gestured, and the dirt around the tree packed itself in gently to steady the tree. 

Ember raised her head. This tree has stood at this spot for the Yule celebration since the Elders first declared the Accords, she said. Every winter solstice, the Caretaker brings it back here, so it can record the celebrations for all who have left, and all who will come. The cycle begins again.

The cycle begins, the other dragons repeated. 
Then Molly and Schrodinger were back in the Cove, watching Ember hand a small scroll ornament to Jade. This is a symbol of the Accords that govern the Realms, the dragon said. It is tradition that every tree set for the Yule celebration have a copy of it hung upon it, so that the joy and luck of the Accords may flow out for another year. It is only fitting that the Cove have their own copy now.