Posted in Stories

How White Beard Beat King Winter

Day 10 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge:

December 2010 was a special month here in Holland. Not because of Christmas and all its festivities, no, last December the Netherlands were under attack! On a dark night King Winter had silently crept in and covered the land with a thick blanket of snow. Extraordinary!

Of course being snug and warm under a blanket generally leads to a lot of sleeping, snoring and dreaming and the Dutch were no exception to this rule: they went into hibernation. En masse! Nothing moved except the clouds that stealthily added more snow to the already impressive piles. Weeks passed by and the year almost came to an end. Wind mills, Schiphol, the dikes, winter tulips and clogs, all were dressed alike. What remained was a stark bleak silhouette against the dark skies.

Then one day, a white-bearded old man in a red suit passed over this white silent country and gazed down in wonder. With a loud HO-HO-HOOOOOOoh-whattheHECK?! he set down his sledge and galloped through the streets, the bells on the reindeer jingling loud in the freezing air. What in Christmas’ name had happened here? No shiny decorations? No Christmas trees?

The merry tinkling wove its way magically through the air, even passing through the thickest layers of snow. Suddenly a light winked between two curtains and a little girl looked out, shivering and rubbing her eyes. With a jolt of wonder, she recognized the man and ran off into the depth of the house again. A faint ‘Mommy, Daddy, wake up, WAKE UP, Santa is here!’, could still be heard. The old man smiled and encouraged his reindeer to run even faster. He had a lot of ground to cover this night.

Soon a chain of lights spread through the villages and towns, and everywhere people appeared, walking out into the streets to wake up neighbors and friends. Their sleepy faces gradually unfolded in the crispy fresh air. King Winter’s spell was losing its hold and each snowy heart was rekindled. Men were cleaning sidewalks, piling the snow into the gardens, while children crawled in attics and dusty cabinets, in search of garlands and other decorations. It was Christmas Eve.

Gifts were not important that year – after all no one had been able to go shopping. Food was aplenty, since everybody shared what they had to create the most wondrous communal meal in Dutch history. And you know what? Celebrating together was the greatest gift Santa could have given us. For once no man or woman, no child was alone during these days.

Mighty King Winter watched from afar and slowly withdrew towards the north again, admitting defeat. How he had underestimated this old man, ripe in wrinkles and years but full of heart. December was Santa’s, forever.

By now my memories are vague and fuzzy. Has this really happened or was it just a weird winter dream…?