Advent 2021 – Day Zero

November 30

“What’s this?”

Molly McIntyre stepped into the kitchen, shaking snow from her hair as she did so. It had been snowing for a few hours, but that hadn’t stopped Zette from dropping off the mail. Now, she showed her husband Drew the elegant white and silver envelope that had come with the other letters and bills.

He took the envelope and turned it over in his hands. “It almost looks like a wedding invitation, but do we have any weddings coming up?”

“Not that I know of,” Molly said, slipping her feet out of her boots and into the warm slippers she’d left beside the door. “Unless Sue and Luke finally just decided to elope and this is the party invitation.”

Sue and Luke are eloping? Really? Do you think they’ll still do a fancy dress party to celebrate if they are already married? Schrodinger Barrett came barreling out to the kitchen, whiskers and ears alert. He loved fancy dress parties.

“I don’t know that,” Molly replied, laughing. “But they’re the only ones I know of who might be getting married.”

Drew held the envelope out to Schrodinger, and the Cross Cat sniffed it. Not Sue and Luke, he said finally. I smell Zette, obviously, but there’s another scent…familiar, but it’s a little muddled. It’s snowing outside still. Maybe that’s my problem.

“Well, let’s put an end to our misery.” Drew opened the envelope, pulling out a pale green card. There were silver snowflakes and colorful autumn leaves intertwined around the edge, framing the following words:

“This is an invitation to a special party. Please bring an ornament that symbolizes the spirit of Christmas to you to the tree in Captain Carter’s Square this Saturday. We look forward to seeing you there.


The Snow Queen, Jack Frost, and Old Man Winter”

A party! Schrodinger danced around the kitchen, acting more like his best friend Jack than a Cross Cat. Molly could almost see the excitement rising off him. And ornaments! And friends!

“I guess we’ll have to find ornaments,” Molly said.

That Saturday, they joined the large crowd of people in Captain Carter’s Square in downtown Carter’s Cove, where a massive spruce tree had been decorated every year that Molly could remember. There were still lights glowing amid the dark green needles, but the normal garlands of starfish, dolphins, ships, and anchors were not evident. Molly looked around at all her friends and neighbors, and smiled. Christmas was definitely one of Carter Cove’s favorite holidays.

There was a small raised dias next to the tree, and standing on it were three of Carter Cove’s nontraditional residents. Jade, the Snow Queen, radiant in her silvery-white robes and with a small diamond tiara nestled among her blonde braids, stood next to Jack Frost, her hand in his. He was dressed in dark green robes, with autumn leaves and silver snowflakes dancing along the edges of the fabric. And behind them loomed the tall figure of Old Man Winter, ice in his grey beard, his blue eyes bright. To think we used to fear him, Molly thought. It seems so long ago.

The Snow Queen stepped forward and raised her hands. Instantly the crowd quieted.

“Welcome, my friends,” she said, her clear voice floating on the chill air. “I know this tree normally holds tributes to Captain Carter and his voyage here to found this town. But this year is a special year for Jack and I, and in the spirit of that, we’d like to share a tradition that Captain Carter introduced us to.” She laid a hand on the branch nearest to her. “That first year, everyone in the town hung an ornament that held a memory sacred to each of them, and told the story of why the ornament meant so much to them. We,” and she looked back at Jack and Old Man Winter, “thought that it was time to revisit this. And we are so very happy that so many of you decided to join us. So we will start.”

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