I have been thinking lately of all the wonderful stories that my grandparents would tell me as a child for bedtime stories, and at other times. I miss these stories and legends. I just saw Handsel and Gretel which reminded me of an old story I'd like to reprise that went like this...
What if the Christmas tale was as simple as:
Claus stood upon the rise, staff in hand, and asked the Gatekeeper, "May I pass?"
"No, but I can sell you a Christmas card for $5.99 will that do?"
And what if there were more legends and tales to tell, about Santa, and his role in bringing gifts to humankind.
The Cheapening of Oral Tradition
Upon the stony rise the legendary warrior near met his match, such was the howling wind, and the banshee fury from the north whose chill touch virtually tore the life from his human skin. Claus (pronounced: Clow +ss) was a warrior, and a man of legend. And he was a man and a mission and would not let ice, nor sleet, nor snow stop his climb up the steep cliff. Yet this was the only pass that led into the Vale of Winter's Night beyond for many many miles.
He trode forward pushing his virtuous and virile face to the wind. It had been Summer from the land he had come from. In his hand the mighty staff of Sigdis, that the sage of his hamlet had leant him. He had been young when he had started his path, beyond the rises of Krodor, near the beautiful Homlin's Vale. It was indeed the most scenic place in all the lands of the One Kingdom.
At last he came upon the gate, and found a tale figure standing nearby. Neither man nor woman, young nor old. The large figure with spidery fingers stood, guarding the way to the warrior's fate.
Before Claus could say a word the stranger figure spoke. His voice boomed through the land in a deep bass, yet fingers of a wise humanity also echoed through its strange music. "Who is it that comes."
"It is I, Claus, warrior of Homlin Vale."
"And why, should I let you pass, Claus? I know all things so do not lie to me?"
"Who are you then, that I should answer you?"
"I am the guardian to this gate to the kingdom. And if you don't answer truthfully I will see to it that you shall never face."
Claus ran his fingers over the surface of his enchanted staff. Brute force might teach this sappy spiderling a lesson, yet diplomacy, he had found was a sweeter brew to suckle on.
Claus answered, "I am Claus, a warrior. I have come because an ancient legend told me that I must face the Ice Queen in the land's past Kordor, past Kingdom of the Shade, I might find the Vale of Winter's Night, that leads to the lands beyond."
"The legends do not speak of a battle."
"'I wish that my lands must always remain winter,' The Good King, Weincelaus told me. "And thus he sent me force to destroy that fell Witch whose icy hands clutch my land in ice and snow, and all life is turned to death when her dark embrace falls upon my land."
"Not all die. Humans do not."
"Yet we must suffer. No seeds may be sown, the bitter winds make it almost impossible to travel, we must burn fires that harm our lungs. And the cold is most unbearable we would all say."
"And you think defeating her will stay this plague upon your lands?"
"Yes it will, and by defeating her I will increase my lot, and win the hand of a fair maiden."
"Yes, certainly a maiden will you fall for. And how do you know I am not in league with those beyond."
"Those beyond would not bar the icy pass that will suck the life out of most mortal men. The path so far has been a battle. I would expect all who enter might die, as only dark things leave the entrance."
"It is not as cold in there as Canada, but it is quite cold. And you speak sagely. I keep things out. But you I will let in, if only in time to be defeated."
Even as the guardian moved to let him through the gate, Claus spat upon the ground, "The orcish knaves that dogged my path, near Krondor did I slay them. And the wolves have harangued me on the way. Yet I have been led in day by the morning's light, and in night by the light of the moon. So I have had my allies thus far. I don't need you or your league of temperance."
"No, the bottle will be your sage if you enter there. But mayhap something good will come of your demise, and so I will let you through."
"You are the strangest to think I would die without a fight."
"I will not fight you, certainly." There was a mild howl in the wind, and I took that for a chuckle.