Monday, 7 December 2009

Father Frost - A Morality Tale

Father Frost
Father Frost is a northern European winter tale that turns up with slight variations. Here's a new version, from Father Frost's point of view.


Once upon a time in December, Father Frost was travelling north. He'd spent most of the year camped out at the pointy end of Patagonia where it was as frosty as the frosting on a frozen ice cream cake. He also rather like watching the penguins. Humming his favourite Beatles song, he guided his sleigh with a skilful flick of the wrist so his three faithful reindeer knew just where to set him down in northern Russia. The air crackled as he inhaled the reassuringly cold atmosphere, cold enough to kill any normal man. This was his land, his territory and he was reclaiming his kingdom where he reigned unchallenged every Yuletide.

Each year he hoped to find a worthy companion, someone he could trust, someone who didn't just want to be by his side because he was powerful or rich or famous or dangerous. He was all of these things and old enough to know that they usually attracted exactly the wrong sort of people.

As he glanced around his kingdom he saw something move in the forest, so he headed towards it. It was a girl, a pretty girl who was shivering with cold, and dressed in what looked like last year's summer party clothes, anyway they were hardly adequate for the occasion. In the distance, he saw an old man walking away with his shoulders hunched; he looked as though he was sobbing in pain and misery.

"Here we go," thought Father Frost, "yet another example of the appalling behaviour that I've come to expect from these people." As he got closer to the girl she started to shake with terror as well as with the cold. He had this effect on people as soon as they recognized him. Nevertheless she looked him straight in the icy blue eyes and said politely,
"Good afternoon, Father Frost. I hope that your journey wasn't too tiring."
"It was fine, thanks," said Father Frost, "and how are you? Not too cold out here?" He smiled rather wickedly at this challenge and wondered which of the many lines he'd heard before she would try out on him.
" I'm great!" she said as cheerfully as she could manage through chattering teeth. That was a new one. Usually they begged for his pity, asked us to be wrapped up in his nice warm cloak and attempted to wheedle their way his affections. Sometimes it worked, but he would get bored with them, and gently freeze them to death with one ice cold breath.
"It can't last,” he thought to himself and asked her again but every time she told him she was doing fine even though it was as clear as an icicle that she was about to drop dead with cold.
"Could it be?" he wondered, "that I have finally found a genuinely unselfish human being?" and he decided to reward her for her patience. He wrapped her up in furs (because in those days there were no synthetic fibres and no animal rights campaigners) and whisked her off to his palace, where she had a nice warm bath and found the most beautiful blue velvet clothes waiting for her, some stunning silver jewellery and a great big box of treasure.

"This is really very kind of you, Father Frost," she said, "but I can't possibly accept them. Besides, now that my stepmother has thrown me out of the house, if I go back there I'm sure she'll have my dad put to death and I couldn't bear that to happen, so if it's alright with you, I’ll just take the cloak and a good pair of boots and be on my way."

Father Frost sent the reindeer and the sleigh off to bring her dad back to the palace, then loaded the treasure, daughter and dad onto his magic vehicle and sent them back home. Occasionally he liked to set up a little scenario and watch how it played out but this one was worse than he could have imagined. When she saw all the precious things, the evil stepmother, who had sent our lovely girl out to the woods to die, decided to send her own rather unpleasant, greedy daughter out there too. It didn't go well. The greedy girl complained, moaned, whinged and whimpered until Father Frost was so bored, he exhaled on her and turned her to snow then blew a bit harder and caused a blizzard in Stockton on Tees.

Now that he had finally found someone who could be trusted, he invited his new friend to help him give out all the good children's rewards at Yuletide. He didn't ask her name. He decided to call her Snowflake and asked her always to wear beautiful blue and silver clothes. Even though she was quite an independent minded young woman she decided that this was fair enough, considering the circumstances. From that day onwards she accompanied him around the world and really enjoyed watching the penguins in Patagonia.

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