We have been in a short story frame of mind. So, once again, with a slant toward the upcoming holidays, we'd like to share another. Enjoy!
What Holiday Is It Anyway?
“It feels like spring.”
“Doesn’t matter,” said Miranda, all of eight with the adultness of thirty-eight. “Today is the day of the year that the Sun is farthest south. It marks the first day of the season of winter, and is the shortest day and longest night of the year.”
The two of them sat opposite each other in the window seat staring out into a gray, raining day. The swags and greenery that decorated the Odessa homes looked limp and uninterested, rather than buoyant as they had just a couple weeks earlier. The only redeeming aspect of the landscape was the girl’s view of the January House’s artistically decorated mail box with its greenery, red bow and white lettering, the house set off in the distance partly hidden by bare branches of the many trees and bushes. Otherwise, rain faded the world, mud pools replaced snow that had come early and then regretfully melted.
“Usually it is cold,” insisted her younger sister, Julian, by three years. “It would make more sense if it were snowing.”
“December 22nd or sometimes the 21st is the Winter Solstice regardless of what the weather is like.”
“Is all that in the book you’re reading?”
“Yup. I got it out of the library yesterday,” she said, holding up the hardbound book from her lap.
“I got The Okapi.”
“That’s a good story. You’re going to like it.”
“Want to read it to me?”
“Sure, in a bit. I want to read some more about the Solstice, first.”
“What’s it say?”
Hunching up her knees, Miranda placed the book there and read, “In ancient Rome, The Festival of Saturnalia, which marked the end of the harvest season was a time for joyous celebration and reverent thanksgiving.”
“Wow, they had Thanksgiving in Rome? Did they invite Indians?”
“It wasn’t like our traditional Thanksgiving, and I doubt they invited Indians since the Americas weren’t discovered back then.”
“Oh,” the younger girl said, looking a bit saddened at the thought of no Indians.
“In our Gregorian calendar, Saturnalia coincides with the Winter Solstice,” Miranda continued to read, “a cosmic occurrence in anticipation of mystery. The Romans used the Julian calendar and the Winter Solstice or Brumalia occurred on December 25th.”
“Julian? I have a calendar all my own?”
“No, it’s just called that.”
“Oh,” she said picking at her jumper, making tiny teepees and again looking disappointed, and then saying, “December 25th is Christmas.”
Miranda looked as surprised as her sister. “Yup, and listen to this. The Romans decorated their homes and communities with glowing candles, greenery swags and wreaths of holly, cypress and laurel.”
The girls took another look at the homes beyond, and the red and green bows and evergreen suddenly looked perky.
Miranda returned to her book. “They had huge public feasts. They exchanged gifts and greetings of good will.”
“Wow, Christmas started before it was actually Christmas.”
“Who knows, I think it has something to do with a Roman Emperor maybe eventually combining Christmas with some of the traditions of their Winter Solstice.”
“I’m glad he did, especially the gift part and the decorating part and the party part. I wonder if they made chocolate chip cookies?”
“Maybe not chocolate chip, but they probably had sweets.”
“I wonder if they had snow. Don’t you wish it was snowing? Then we could build a snowman.” Julian huffed air on the windowpane and then drew a snowman in the foggy cloud it created.
“It’s cold enough to do that,” said Miranda, and then put her book aside as the mature Miranda morphed back into her age. “Wanna build a mudman?”
Both girls grinned.
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