||[Nov. 27th, 2005|01:12 am]
Characters Involved: Everyone|
Setting: The Village
Something peculiar happens at the end of the November. Without fail, every year, some marvelous transformation occurs across the United Kingdom. One autumn night the whole country goes to sleep, and by the following afternoon, festive holiday décor garnishes the cities, towns, and houses. In one night, the spirit of the season changes from longingly reminiscing about summer to fervently anticipating the end of December. The magical metamorphosis affects wizard and muggle community alike, changing the surroundings as suddenly as that singular strong wind which blows all the vivid hued leaves from their branches. It is as if people are trying to compensate for the lack of foliage, hanging their own colorful displays from every pole and wire in lieu of the bright orange leaves now withering on the grass.
Loch Village was no exception to this holiday phenomenon. Though it might have been one’s first response to think the sleepy little town would be prone to skimping on festive decorations, first glance out frosted window pane this early afternoon would reveal to any skeptic that the community had put forth as much effort as any large city in decking the streets. Evergreen garland dotted with bright red berries spiraled itself around every lamppost, making them appear giant spearmint candy canes lining the streets, while a simple enchantment made a halo of golden sparkles dance around the lanterns. Varying sized bulbs in holiday reds and greens, silvers and golds, were strung between the lamps at intervals – each orb handsomely unique. It seemed everywhere it had been tasteful to do so, a length of tinsel had been wrapped or a cluster of poinsettias had been tucked. And the adornments did not end with those supplied but the town itself. As if determined not to be outdone, most of the store keepers and private home owners took part in a self-imposed decorating “race to arms,” frantic to avoid being the last to bedeck their respective premises. The result was a mixture of elegant trimmings in perfect agreement with those along the streets and vastly over blown ornamentation which bordered on being eyesores. Sprigs of holly wreathed window frames, mistletoe dangled in doorways, and lines of little white lights dotted the eves in classic Christmas fashion. At the same time, there were spelled boughs of evergreen that blinked every color of the rainbow, gaudy toy soldiers three feet high which marched to clapping hands, and replicas of houselves in Santa hats that jigged and jingled bells at passing customers. Everywhere, people seemed in competition with each other to sport the best store front, though nothing could be done to top the center of town.
There, in the middle of the square, stood the tree. At fourteen feet tall, it was quite the site to behold, with each branch splayed and every limb perfect. Not as if any imperfection would have gone noticed anyway, what with all the ornaments on the tree. Strings of golden beads entwined the pine needles, twinkling like sun fire from the tiny sparkling orbs that cast their surroundings in a warm glow. Porcelain and crystal decorations hung next to large, magical snowflakes that would not melt; glass spirals of every color glinted in the light from a hundred fairies hiding in the limbs. Small bunches of silver bells peaked from between the green, and every gust of wind sent them swaying in a musical chime which became only a soft insinuation under the breeze. Tiny little red and gold finches, the tips of their feathers white as if touched with frost, darted from bough to bough, chirping in melody with the bells. There were pinecones and icicles, glittering balls and silver reindeer, gold tinsel and red garland. And at the very top, there sat a ceramic angel garbed in regal white and blue that had been enchanted to sing carols out across the plaza. It seemed as if anything that could be hung on a string – both magical and not – graced the evergreen’s boughs, and it must have been enchantment alone which kept the branches from sagging under the spectacular weight. Yet, every limb had been so well embellished and adorned that instead of looking overstuffed or crowded, it looked simply…
“Amazing.” Miss Hart had been spent most of this afternoon walking the streets and drinking in the holiday cheer. The finely decorated stores and houses had amused her enough, though one would have been hard-pressed to tell given the ever-present frigid look in her eyes. However, the grand tree had struck a chord within her, and the stoic front had cracked to give way to an expression of youthful marvel. She stood staring up at the magnificent sight, cupping a mug of peppermint coffee in her hands and suddenly growing extremely self conscious of the lone wreath gracing her front door.