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December Mourning

December the first brought a new arrival to the Cottage family – Snow. She was the third member in the family of icicles, joining the middle-aged Fire and the elder Ice. The temperature that day in December was exactly at freezing, and Fire and Ice felt the thaw coming and feared for their lives. Snow was too naïve to know what it meant.

“Yay! December! Just twenty-four days until Christmas!” The children below cheered. Snow looked over at Fire and questioned, “What is Christmas? Why are the children so excited?” Fire sighed and said, “It’s the holiday on December twenty-fifth when presents are exchanged in celebration.” Ice groaned. “What’s wrong, Ice?” The child Snow asked. “It’s just that every time the temperature gets above freezing, we melt a little. Ice has been around the longest, and she’s melted the most. Right now she’s at a quarter of her regular size,” Fire explained gently to the new icicle. Ice added, “Each day that passes delivers us closer to death.” Snow was quieted at that; never had she thought about the passing days like that before, even when she was being formed. She had never been melting.

December second passed, and then December third, and all Snow could think about was Christmas and days. She knew how long she had until Christmas because of the joyous children. It always made Snow smile to see the young children being just that – children. Fire became more stressed at Ice’s saddened situation with each day, and soon all Snow thought about Christmas and days was that it was something to be afraid of and ignored. The temperature remained at approximately thirty degrees Fahrenheit, two degrees above the freezing temperature, and Ice lost even more of herself. Fire was less than half of her original size, whileSnow was three-quarters of hers.
“I will die soon, Fire and Snow, and you will be the ones left to educate the Cottage clan. Treat them well, as I have treated you,” Ice stated one evening. Fire became more distressed by the minute. “Don’t talk like that, Ice, you’re not going to die anytime soon.” This made Fire just as silent as Ice usually was – staring at the ground and the droplets splashing on the concrete below, draining their life away.

Days passed and Ice passed, leaving just Fire and Snow, alone. “I’ll be next,” claimed the tiny droplet. “Don’t talk like that, Fire!” Snow said. She had gotten over her earlier excitement and later aversion to the holiday. There were just twelve days left until Christmas, and Snow – a four inch long icicle – had gained a new perspective about the December holiday.

Like a child, Snow had been excited about Christmas when she was younger. Days later, she didn’t care for anything about the holiday except to see joy on the children’s faces. However, Snow had thought about Christmas and dying long enough to realize that it wasn’t just a holiday. It signified happiness and peace, even for just a day. She wasn’t going to make the same mistakes that her family members had – stressing out over a friend’s death. Sure, Ice had died, but she hadn’t focused her days on living. Sure, Fire was grieving, but she hadn’t focused her days on happiness. Snow’s new perspective about Christmas was joy. She was happy for the children who would doubtlessly receive gifts on Christmas. She loved to see happiness in their expressions; Christmas would bring lots of joy and happiness for Snow to enjoy. She’d become very wise as she lived.

Three days before Christmas, after Fire’s death and Snow’s reduction to an inch-long icicle, the children didn’t come out to play as they usually did. They had gone away for Christmas, Snow gathered from conversations the family had had with the neighbors. Now there would be no joy for me on Christmas, Snow thought hopelessly. She slept unhappily and woke unhappily for the next two nights, not expecting a miracle.

On Christmas morning, Snow awoke as a frozen half-inch icicle, on the brink of death. She heard the excited shouts of children playing with new toys, and opened her eyes to see the two young children who inhabited the cottage playing on the front lawn. “Yay! Christmas!” they cheered excitedly. Snow blinked and liquidized, and she died.

Snow died happily, knowing that the children had indeed come back for Christmas. She died while seeing the joyous expressions and happy shouts of Christmas excitement. The young icicle named Snow died without being afraid; now perhaps another icicle can follow her example.

This story was based on the process of aging. As a young child, Christmas brings gifts and excitement. As a teenager, Christmas is just another season, but one that brings gifts. As an adult, Christmas brings the stress of buying gifts, decorating, and setting up a tree. As a senior, Christmas has a different value – joy at others’ happiness. This is the lesson that Snow learned in December Mourning.





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