Tonight is a special night. The Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. But tonight something truly special happens, something that hasn’t happened for 800 years. Look to the southwestern sky, just above the horizon, and see the planets Saturn and Jupiter appear as one. Perhaps this was the Christmas Star of legend.
And here continues the Christmas Saga of 2020. Like the days of yore when newspapers published anxiously anticipated serialized stories, here is my annual version, Hidden within the words is a secret message. Find the secret and send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, MAGIC. First five to discover the secret wins a copy of every book I publish this year.
This story is as old as the legend of St. Nicholas, handed down over years and years. Told to Christmas Elves as they rested from their work, there is magic within if you’ve the heart and eyes to see it.
But don’t look for it, feel it in your heart. Speak the words to learn the secret
Of the way we took back to the cabin, I have no memory, yet somehow I remembered this little boy. A prisoner no more, we walked in the Moore’s home.
Pipe in hand, holding a cup of hot chocolate, Jedidiah looked not the least surprised by my return.
“He is back, as I knew he would be,” Jedidiah yelled over his shoulder. Held high his cup and splashed chocolate all over the floor.
Tight in her arms, Sonja squeezed me to her. In this welcome I was much confused.
“His help was how I did it,” pointing behind me.
Teeth from confused smiles shone back at me from all the others.
“And who is he?” Jedidiah asked, looking past me.
“The little boy, right here,” I said, spinning around and pointing to an empty space behind me.
Smoke from the fire gave the room a cozy aroma, I knew I was safe, but the boy was nowhere to be seen.
“It…it…can’t be,” I said. Encircled by my friends in a group embrace, I couldn’t understand where the boy had gone.
His voice still rang in my ears, familiar and comforting.
“Head over here, Sash, tell me what happened,” Jedidiah said.
“Like I’ve been trying to tell you, the demon dragged me to a castle, threatened me, then vanished when a small boy appeared and led me back here,” I said, still looking around. “A moment ago, he was right next to me.”
“Wreath is ready,” Clark said, walking into the room. He acted as if my disappearance and reappearance were quite expected. Had I missed something?
A moment passed, and I waited as Clark hung the wreath. Broad smiles lit Clark and Sonja’s faces as the wreath began to shimmer.
“Face the wreath my boy,” Clark said. “And all this will start to make sense.”
A slight, almost imperceptible sound came from around the wreath. Little by little the center took on the shimmer of a mirror catching the sun. Round and round the light spun until an image appeared.
Belly covered with Red and White was all I saw in the glass, then moving back to show Santa smiling back at me
“That has been quite the adventure you’re on so far, hasn’t it Sash?” he said.
Shook from my surprise, I looked around at everyone watching this scene. When Santa looked at me, I could tell he had something else to say.
He paused a moment then nodded. “Laughed, when I said it would be an adventure didn’t you,” Santa said. “Like it our not, this is your destiny. A small boy—the one you met—is the key to solving the mystery of your birth. Bowlful of good food Clark will now give you and you and Jedidiah will be on your own from here.
“Of Seamus and the others, they will wait for your return, but they can no longer help. Jelly legs you may feel and scared you may be, but there is a chance you will succeed.”
He stopped at the last sentence and I could see the concern on his face. Was this how it would end? Chubby and smiling as he was, there was no doubt he was worried about how this would end.
“And what is it we’re supposed to do?”
Plump images of sugar plums and pies now filled the screen and faded away. A moment later, the screen went blank.
“Right,” I said, “now what do I do?”
“Jolly Ole St. Nick didn’t want to say,” Jedidiah said, “but we have to rescued that little boy. Old scary demons or attack harpies won’t stop us.
“Elf courage is renowned throughout the world?
“And who exactly holds Elf courage in renown?” I asked.
Laughed at my own question because I knew Jedidiah was putting on a brave face but terrified in reality. When he’d finished acting tough, he leaned against the fireplace trying to stop his hands from shaking.
I walked over to him and leaned down.
“Saw what I saw when that demon here was,” said Seamus. “Him and his friends will easy no be to challenge.”
In a moment, Clark came over to me.
“Spite and anger drive the demon. Of this I am certain. Myself, I would love to go with you, but you heard Santa’s words. A task for you and Jedidiah alone.”
Wink he did with one eye and put his arm around me.
“Of this moment, we knew it might come, but I hoped it would never be. His power is strong, his forces many, but I know you can find a way. Eye to eye you must face this demon, not just his shadow. And when you do, it will take all of your courage, and that of your friend, Jedidiah, to overcome the evil.”
A silence descended over the room. Twist of fate had sent me here and now I must face it.
“Of the reason I face this task,” I said, “I am in the dark.”
His wife, Sonja, stepped in front of him. Head and shoulders taller, she gently took his hand.
“Soon you’ll face your life’s challenge. Gave us a scare when disappeared,” she said, “but I knew you’d return
“Me and Clark are, well, your parents, Sash. To fid this out I know is a shock, but there was a reason for us sending you north all those years ago.
“Know this. I only wanted to protect you. Had I known you’d find your way back on your own, I never would have let you go.”
Part XI Tomorrow!