The Yule Gift
The Yule Gift
Katla woke up just as Sunna was rising up over the eastern horizon. She winced in pain as she tried to stand up after an uncomfortable sleep. Katla had fallen asleep on the bench, and her neck was stiff from being unsupported during the night. As she stretched her arms she made an accompanying noise that woke up Hildi.
" Good morning child. " she told her daughter as she yawned a second time.
Hildi wriggled under her blanket for a moment, and was about to fall back asleep when she remembered what Gangleri had told her the night before about the gift giver. Hildi struggled out of the blanket as though it were a net she was caught in, and felt her way over to where Gangleri had been sleeping the past several nights. As she touched everything on that side of the fireplace, however, she quickly realized that there was nothing, and no one, there !
" Mother ! Where is Gangleri ! " she cried out in a state of panic.
Katla, in her morning stupor, had not realized that the old man had left. She quickly turned around and let her eyes search the tiny cabin, but it was a silly gesture. The shack was so small that there was no place for a man his size to hide. Disappointed Katla placed her hand over her mouth and blurted out.
" Oh my ! I think he has left us ! "
" NO, NO, NO, ! Why would he leave without saying goodbye !! " Hildi shouted angrily.
Katla then felt the bitterness that had followed her throughout her life boil up inside of her again.
" Because that is what men do ! They leave you alone and destitute ! " she told her daughter angrily.
" But he said that the spirits would come while we slept and leave us presents . " she told her mother with a twinge of disappointment.
" Well men lie all ..... " Katla stopped in mid sentence. Under the evergreen tree she spotted a small box with a tiny bow on it.
Katla stooped over and picked up the box. She looked at it from several angles as though it were a great mystery.
" Come sit here on the bench child. The old man has left you something here beneath the tree. " she explained.
Hildi followed her mother's voice towards the bench, and when she came close enough Katla helped her to sit down. With slightly trembling hands she placed the small box in her daughter's hand.
" What is it mother ? " she asked excitedly.
" It is a small white box with a little red bow on it. " she explained to her daughter.
" Open it mother ! Open it !! " Hildi screamed with joy.
Katla took the box back from here daughter and carefully removed the pretty red bow before removing the cover. Then with trembling hands she slowly removed the lid.
" Damned men !! " Katla shouted.
Katla took a long deep breath before continuing.
" I am sorry child ! The box is as empty as all the promises men make. " Katla yelled.
Hildi began to tremble all over, and then she burst into tears. Katla became furious !
" Don't let the broken promises that the old man made upset you honey. We should not have expected anything from him in the first place ! " she told her daughter through clenched teeth.
" GREEN ! " Hildi shouted as she began to cry uncontrollably.
Her daughter's sudden outburst scared Katla.
" What is it ! What is wrong !! " she shouted at her daughter.
" The tree is green ! " she shouted again.
Katla became frozen with fear as she watched her daughter walk over to the tree. Hildi reached out and pulled one of the pine cones off of the branch closest to her, and showed it to her mother.
" Gangleri described the pine cone perfectly mother. It is brown and covered with shingles that hold in the seeds. " she told her mother as she examined the pine cone.
Katla's hands were trembling so badly that she could barely reach out and turn her daughter around to face her. When their eyes met Katla asked :
" What do you see Hildi ? ! "
Hildi began to shake again as she reached out and touched her mother's face.
" Mommy ! I see mommy !! Hildi screamed.
Katla wrapped her arms around her daughter and lifted her off of the floor and held her tight. As she did one of Hildi's feet hit one of the lower branches on the tree and knocked something shiny to the floor. As Katla hugged her daughter tightly, through tearing eyes she followed the shiny object as it rolled to the side of the bench. When its momentum was spent it fell over on its side. Katla's mouth hung open as she slowly realized what the object was. It took her mind a moment to take it all in before she whispered.
" A gold coin ! "
Katla quickly looked up at the evergreen tree, and as her eyes slowly scanned the tree from top to bottom she saw that almost every branch had either a gold or a silver coin upon it.
It was then that she realized that the old man, ....... that wonderful old man with the whimsical laugh,... had not left them alone and destitute at all. He had given them the greatest gift of all.... he had given them hope for a better future !
For the rest of her life Hildi told anyone and everyone she came in contact with of the kindly old man with the white hair and long beard. She described in great detail how he laughed with a, " Ho, ho, ho, " and how he came down the chimney all covered in soot. She recounted that she had heard reindeer on the roof, and that that must have been how the jolly old man traveled from home to home to deliver his wonderful gifts.
Throughout the land it soon became a legend..... but later it would become a sacred tradition among Heathens !
- The End
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.