Christmas Ghosts - Tree-style

We're up to '05 now. This first story I wanted to try to get published in a magazine, but I never would get around to it until like October, and magazines have huge lead times. Finally I just put it on my site. I still would like to get it somewhere. Maybe next year. I know it seems tame for my tastes, but I can't always be cutting edge.....

The Hyperion Chronicles
“Refusing to give up my belief in Santa Pirate”

#373 Evergreen Village

All across the land thumps the heartbeat of culture, the building blocks of civilization: the small town. Common folk-- decent folk-- have come from all over. They live together, more-or-less in peace. Every small town is different, yet they’re the same.

What makes them similar is a strong sense of community: folks pulling together to help one another out. What makes them unique is that each town has a story to tell. My name is Johnny Rockinghorse, and I want to tell you one such story about my small town: Evergreen Village.
Our town is special for a couple of reasons. One is that we don’t exist all year ‘round. I believe the term is “Winter Community,” but Evergreen Village is even more unique: the town gets together for only three weeks a year. The other reason is the giant cat-monster, Shandy, but I’ll get to that later.

The Rockinghorse clan have been here for as long as anyone can remember. My great-grandfather, William Tecumseh Rockinghorse told me we were Native Evergreen Villagians. There are other old families, as well, who have been gathering for generations.

There is the Breadman family. Ginger and I grew up together, life-long friends(Sometimes I might wish for more, but in a small town like ours it gets hard to do anything unnoticed).
Then there is my best friend Jimmy Crackcorn. His family doesn’t have the best reputation, but I like Jimmy Crackcorn and I don’t care what anyone thinks.

Speaking of unsavory reps, you should hear what folks say about Bambi Bubblelight. She’s been here longer than I have, and you should see the outfits she wears. It’s as if she’s trying to compete with Kandy Kane, Evergreen Village’s other notorious citizen.

Each year here in Evergreen Village we have newcomers. I remember the year Ma and Pa Snomin showed up, in bad shape, obviously refugees from something terrible. They didn’t say much, but they were kind and hard-working, and Ma Snomin made the best pies, so the town took them in.

Another year Jangle Bill and Popsicle Stick Elf (everyone called him Li'l Poppy) showed up. Rolf Nutcracker and Worthington “Tinker” Bell tried to stir up trouble, saying these two were criminals, but Mayor Tanenbaum stepped in and said as long as they did their part and kept their noses clean Evergreen Village welcomed them.

Part of the reason Rolf and Tinker made waves is that Jangle Bill and Li'l Poppy showed up next to them. This brings up another tradition in Evergreen Village. We don’t have the same neighbors every year. When the town sets up, folks will call around, looking for friends.
One year Snow Giraffe is right next to the Bows (Derrick and Didley), and the next she’s sharing a fence with that forever-hippie Jenna “Acid” Reindeer.

This also can be the saddest time for us. When we’re calling around, seeing where everyone is, there are always one or two of us unaccounted for. I remember the year when Toe broke her leg. (She was one of the Mistle Sisters, and there wasn’t an ugly one in the bunch.) I helped her tend to it, and she kissed me! I was so excited to see her again the next year (and maybe get another kiss!), but she was nowhere to be found.

For the most part life is good, but we do have our challenges. With the Great War still going we have to cut the lights almost every night, which isn’t so bad as we younger folk can sneak around easier.

Speaking of lights, like most towns, we have our problems, and a while back it was the lights. For so long we’d only had white lights in Evergreen Village. Then one year some colored lights showed up. Some didn’t want the colored lights, but there they were. Others said the colored lights could stay, but those folk had to all live at the lowest end of the town.

The fight was pretty intense and almost split the town in two. However, the next year Rock Starr never showed up. He’d lived up at the very top of the town, and folks would often look to him for advice. In his place was the most beautiful woman anyone ever saw. Sugar Plumferi started calling her the “Angel,” and the name stuck.

For several days the Angel said nothing. The townsfolk went back to fighting over the lights. Then one day the Angel said that all the town should live as one, with both white and colored lights. Folks immediately came to their senses and adopted that policy, as the Angel could do no wrong.

For the most part life is peaceful here, but we do have some adventures. Sometimes at night there are storms, and we see these long strands of silver and gold lightning flashing in the trees. The lower half of the village also has to keep in constant vigilance for Shandy.

For those of you lucky to never live in a small town assailed by a giant cat-monster, I can tell you this: it ain’t fun. Shandy can wreak havoc all over the lower part of the village with her gargantuan paws. She seems to get excited by the flickering lights, and really anything that moves. Yes, fighting off Shandy can be a real pickle.

The biggest day, though, is about two weeks after everyone gets to town. There’s lot of small earthquakes and folks all get jostled a good bit, but we’re all so full of cheer by then that no one seems to mind.

So, there’s some sadness, adventure and even peril, but it’s these times that make us realize how precious the good stuff really is. Evergreen Village really is a swell place to be. I live for those three weeks every year. I love my friends and neighbors, and cherish every moment I get to spend with them. After all, that’s what small town values are all about. Making the most of your “quality time.” Enjoying each other, even with our faults. Gazing upon that beautiful Angel.

And of course avoiding giant cat-monsters.

December 20, 2005

‘Preciate Thanks to Laureate and Kimbo
© 2005 The Hyperion Institute. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Lady Jane Scarlett said...

I'll never look at my tree the same way again. Merry Christmas!

tiff said...

Took me a while to figure out what this was about! Call me dense as a piney woods....I don't mind. Enjoyed it nonetheless.