Friday, December 21, 2012


On Tuesday, the snow turned to rain, and the rain brought fog. The gingerbread boys went back to school. The youngest participated in an Ellis Island immigration simulation. The children dressed up in historical costumes, chose a name and a country, and with a lucky draw ended up in first or second class accommodations. The rest were shuttled like cattle into steerage.

The outline of a boat was taped off on the gymnasium floor. The children crowded together into the "ship," and one of the teachers read letters from passengers until they reached Ellis Island, heralded by the principal, who was dressed as Lady Liberty. After eating a snack of bananas, which is what immigrants at Ellis Island were given, they were sent to processing for medical, legal, and psychological questioning. You were assigned to be a Special Inquirer, asking the children questions such as, "Are you married? Do you have any money?"

At the end, the children performed choreography to "Coming to America," taught by the PE teacher. You stood there in costume, with other costumed parents, with such mixed emotions. Love for your gingerbread boy, gratitude for teachers, sorrow for others, pride for country, dismay for our society.

On Wednesday, you woke up not thinking about the awful thing, though it flitted through your head multiple times during the day, always accompanied by tears. You taught the eldest gingerbread boy to sew that night, in between making gingerbread cookies and cutting homemade marshmallows. He needed a costume. A whale costume. A whale costume with laser eyes. A whale costume with laser eyes AND stilts. If you can pull that one off, anything's possible. Maybe life will go on, you think.

On Thursday, you went to the temple. As you headed towards Boston, you drove past a mini-cooper with a vanity plate saying TUMNUS. Your eyes were drawn to it -- did it really say TUMNUS or are your eyes playing tricks on you?

Yes, it really said TUMNUS.

How funny. How ironic, since you've been living in Narnia the past week. The license plate reminds you that there was more to Narnia than winter. There were true friends and good people. There was Aslan.

When you reached the temple, it was quiet and calm, an atmosphere you've desperately needed in the past week. You walked from one area of the temple to another, and a woman greets you. "Merry Christmas!" she said, smiling as she opened the door for you.

You're momentarily stunned. Yes, Christmas. It's the end of December, isn't it? Christmas is next week.

You looked up at her. "Merry Christmas!" you replied.

On this solstice, winter's only starting, but the days are getting longer, and Christmas is right around the corner. Perhaps Aslan is even on the move.

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