Children Fiction posted January 2, 2018 Chapters: -1- 2 

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A magical story that teaches a lesson.

A chapter in the book The Christmas Princess (Ch 1 of 2)

The Christmas Princess

by Alison Hendrix

Long, long ago, there a lived a charming young princess with bright red hair and sparkling blue eyes. Her name was Adelaide. Adelaide lived with her family in a lovely castle, the kind you read about in stories, with pointy roof tops and a drawbridge that lay across a moat. Her father, the king, loved her very much, and so did her mother, the queen, and even her baby sister. In fact, whenever the baby was crying or upset, the charming young princess would come and sit next to her and sing to her, or make a funny face and the baby would calm down and begin to smile. Yes, the young princess was truly loved by all who ever met her. That's what makes her tale such a tragic one.

Adelaide was an incredibly happy little girl, roaming the castle halls and grounds with her maid, Cookie, and sometimes her little dog, Samson. She loved darting through the crowded hedges in the garden, pretending to see and befriend fairies or gnomes and delighting in the adventures she made up. She loved the flowers in the springtime and the cool lake that she used for swimming in the heat of the summer. In the autumn, the sugar maples on the grounds exploded in brilliant shades of orange and yellow, and she greatly enjoyed kicking the leaves underneath them. But, her favorite time of every year was in the heart of the cold winter. She dearly, dearly loved Christmas!

Christmas, to Adelaide, meant sleigh rides with her family singing along as the rails sang on the snow, trips to the church in the village to bestow gifts to the poor, tying candles to the tree and watching as Ma and Papa carefully lit each one. Then, staying up until Midnight on Christmas Eve to celebrate the welcoming of the Christ child. It was indeed magic! Oh, how her heart thrilled for Christmas!

She so looked forward to the holiday each year that she counted the days, all the year through, until December 1st, for that was when decorating and celebrations for Christmas began in the castle. Her heart came alive for the entire month, all the way through until the very end of December 25th. After that, she was counting the days again.

One December 1st, when Adelaide was 8 years old, her Ma watched her as she helped decorate the castle. Ma said, "You know, Adelaide, someday very soon you will not love Christmas so much as you do now. As you get older, you will see that the rest of the year is just as important as the month of December. You will soon see that there is much work for you to do. Perhaps next year, we will let Cookie do most of the decorating and you can concentrate on learning responsibility."

These words pierced Adelaide and, for the first time in her life, she screamed at her mother. "No!! I will ALWAYS love Christmas as I do now, there is nothing more important!" And she ran to her room, her mother staring in wonder after her.

For days, the child was inconsolable. She would not come out of her room or let anyone in, not even to receive meals. The king and queen became extremely worried, and sought among the people of the village to find someone who could help their beloved daughter. Finally, there was found an old man, the people said he was older than the sea, and this old man said he could help the child.

Frantic for any help, they brought the old man to the door of Adelaide's room that very evening. He called through the door and asked, "Child, dear child, what is it that you wish?" After a moment, Adelaide's voice, very week and barely perceptible, came back to him saying, "Christmas."

The King and queen did not know what to make of this and looked to the old man. He did not take his eyes from the door, but asked again, "My child, what is it that you wish?" Then Adelaide, wrought with childish grief, yanked open the door, stomped her foot down hard and yelled, "I want it to ALWAYS be Christmas!! I don't want to have to give it up for grown-up duties, not for a LONG LONG LONG time!" Then she collapsed on the floor in a faint.

The King and Queen scooped her up and patted her cheeks and hands. The queen sent Cookie for some water and bread, and Cookie hurried away to the task. The old man bent to Adelaide and, stroking her forehead, he softly mumbled, "Christmas ever, ceasing never. In the bauble you will live, yourself you must to others give. And though you may feel yourself be cursed, you will remain there until December 1st."

The king and queen looked at him strangely, wondering what manner of incantation this could be. The old man pointed a wrinkled finger at the half-decorated Christmas tree behind them in the hall. (The decorating had halted while Adelaide was unwell). As they watched, a lovely peach-colored ornament appeared. It was no bigger than the king's hand, and was pointed at the top and bottom. The middle was rounded and sparkled and shimmered in the light filtering in through the windows.

The queen caught her breath and the king cleared his throat and demanded, "What is the meaning of this, man?! What sort of sorcery is this?" The old man seemed unafraid and unbothered by the king's demeanor. He gave a mysterious chuckle and then, to the amazement of the king and queen, vanished before their eyes!

Though they were much disturbed by this, the royal couple tended lovingly to their daughter, and soon Princess Adelaide was herself again. She ate a little and drank some water, and apologized to her parents for the scare she had given them. They said nothing of the mysterious old man, and he was soon forgotten in the rush of the Christmas season.

It was wonderful as always, with singing on the castle grounds and much feasting. Everyone was in good cheer all the merry month of December. Then, on Christmas Day, the rejoicing was at its peak. The family were all up very late in the drawing room: the adults drinking coffee and talking around the fire, and Adelaide sleepily arranging all the play things she had received from friends and family that morning. Her baby sister was sleeping in a cradle nearby. The Queen was remarking how lovely the day had been, when the clock began to strike the midnight hour. Just then, something began to happen to Adelaide. She felt odd. A prickling feeling began in her toes and began to rise. She felt dizzy and confused and called softly to her parents.

The Queen, who was speaking to the King, stopped mid-sentence, and her words turned to screams! As she stared at her daughter, Adelaide changed. Beginning at her toes, her body seemed to transform to some sort of sparkling dust that floated up into a golden, shimmering cloud. The cloud moved across the room and quickly down the hall, so the King and Queen followed. It then found its way to the Christmas tree outside of Adelaide's room, to the sparkling peach-colored ornament that had appeared when the strange old man was there! The dust flew into the ornament, and the bauble shook for a moment, then fell still.

The royal couple called for their daughter over and over, and pulled the ornament from the tree, shaking it, calling into it, but they could not discover what had happened. After a while, they called for a search of the entire castle, in case some sort of trickery was afoot, but the little girl could not be found. Adelaide was gone, and everyone was sorely distraught.

Many months went by and soon it would be Christmastime again. The King and Queen found it difficult to face the upcoming yuletide season, remembering how much their daughter had loved the holiday. The Queen had nearly decided not to celebrate it at all this year, but the King persuaded her to let the servants put up a few decorations. A Christmas tree was put up in the drawing room on December 1st, and Cookie began to decorate it. She pulled the peach-colored ornament from an ornate wooden box made specially to hold it. Cookie held up the ornament and admired it as it flashed and sparkled in the firelight. Then, she hung it on the tree.

As soon as it touched the tree, a sparkling, golden mass flowed out of the ornament and pooled on the floor underneath the Christmas tree. It formed the shape of a little girl, and suddenly, there was Princess Adelaide, lying on the floor! Cookie screamed and scooped up the girl into her arms. The princess looked around confusedly, asked what was happening, and said she was powerfully hungry!

Cookie laughed and said, "Oh miss, we've been so very worried and distressed about you! Where have you been? Oh, it will be a merry Christmas indeed, now that you are back! And my, you look as if you've never left us!" With this, she squeezed Adelaide close again and called for the other maids to fetch the king and queen.

The royals came running, and, when they saw their daughter, they cried out with joy and dropped down to hug her close. With tears in his eyes, the king said, "Where have you been, you wicked child?! You've caused us such pain, we have missed you so!" To their amazement, Adelaide said, "I've never left you. I remember playing in front of the fire with my new toys, and the next thing I recall is waking here beneath the tree. I am really very hungry; may I please have something to eat?"

The queen had already thought of this, and had sent Cookie to the kitchens, and she was just returning with some nuts and cheeses. The princess saw the tray and fell to heartily. Her family and friends were amazed at her sudden return, but were just so glad she was back. Her mother had been holding her baby sister on her hip and set the child down on the floor, where she crawled toward Adelaide. Adelaide's eyes widened and she said, "How big you are today!! When did you learn to crawl?" The baby had been unable to move around on her own the last time her sister saw her.

These things all amazed the king and queen, and frightened the servants. Adelaide was frightened, too, when she was told that she had been missing for almost a whole year, and that it was now the Christmas after her disappearance. The queen turned to her husband and whispered, "The old man from the village!" For she remembered the strange words the old man had chanted over her daughter last year. The king called for a search of the entire castle grounds and the surrounding villages and towns. All the Christmas season, the kingsmen searched and searched, they even went without eating or sleeping some days. But, alas, the old man was never found. Then finally Christmas Day came, with rejoicing and singing, and also apprehension. At 11:59 on Christmas evening, Adelaide was playing with her baby sister and she wondered what would happen. Sure enough, as the clock began to strike 12, the funny, tingly dizzy feeling came over her, and her mother the queen screamed and grabbed for her, but Adelaide was once again transformed into a glittery cloud and was sucked into the peach-colored ornament.

This unfortunate thing happened every Christmas, and each time Adelaide awoke under the Christmas tree, she would find those around her changed. Her little sister especially, grew older quite hurriedly, and quickly caught up to Adelaide. Soon, the two would play together on Christmas, sharing secrets and giggling over the boys that came to visit the castle. They wore each other's clothes and were the best of friends. All too quickly, though, her little sister became a young woman, and one Christmas, Adelaide awoke to find her married! The next Christmas she had a child, and that child grew quickly, as well. Thankfully, they all still lived in the castle together, and, one day, the king and queen called Adelaide and her sister, and her sister's child (who was now about 8 years old), to the drawing room.

The King cleared his throat and began, "You ladies know that every Christmas, we must be especially careful to hang Adelaide's ornament on December 1st, and then very carefully place it in it's special box on the 26th. Well, your mother and I are getting older, and one day we will no longer be able to oversee the decorating. Marigold," (Adelaide's sister was named Marigold), "we need you to make sure that you, and your children, and then your grandchildren later will continue to hang Adelaide's ornament every year."

Everyone was a little saddened by this, but they all agreed. And so, every year, from generation to generation, Adelaide's ornament continued to be hung, and she became known as the Christmas Princess. Many years went by and her story faded into legend, and the people who knew Adelaide were now her nieces' and nephews' great grandchildren. These people didn't know her very well, and told all the villagers that she was a friend visiting for Christmas. This saddened Adelaide, but, she always found hope in the meaning of Christmas and clung to a dream that she would one day live a normal life.

I felt particularly inspired this Christmas, and finished writing this on New Year's Eve. I hope you enjoy it, and I'd really appreciate any feedback! Thank you!
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© Copyright 2018. Alison Hendrix All rights reserved.
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