Leading up to Christmas, our Social Convener #1, Charlotte, conspired with our Social Media Officer, Amadea, to post a little snippet of Christmassy goodness each day in our Uni-Verse Advent Calendar. When Christmas did finally roll around, we all huddled together in Café Votiv’s cosy backroom, enjoyed home-baked goodies, Social Convener #2, Elli’s, festive decorations and steaming hot drinks.
Christmas means presents and so we set up a Creative Secret Santa, in which each person had to fill one A4 page creatively (which means drawings, texts, stickers, etc.) for the person they had been assigned. Charlotte led us through each person reading their Christmassy creation out loud and because some of us already knew each other quite well at this point, it proved to be hilarious, individualised and, at times, genuinely touching.
Then, we went to town on our Collaborative Christmas stories. We had prepared a bag filled with unrelated, but sometimes Christmas-inspired, words and we each drew one. Having written the first part of a poem or story inspired by our prompt, we then handed it to the next person, who had to draw another prompt from the bag and had to continue the text while simultaneously working in the word somehow. It was a blast 😀
Towards the very end, when we were all rather sleepy and cosy and snug, one of our writers, James Baillie, managed to capture the spirit of the evening in a beautiful little poem:
We grew a tree from voice and pen,
A snowflake from a falling noun,
From words a stocking spun, and then
With snow-white pages wrapped the town
Our presents were of tale and verse,
Unwrapped, unbought, but made with care,
By typing fingers, well rehearsed
To tell of frost or angel’s hair
This universe at Christmastide
From dagger frost to warm times past,
Brings to all a word-wrapped joy
To bring our year to close at last.
Happy New Year, everyone!
(Below, you can find all the riveting and completely out-of-the-box results of dozens of writers putting together their most Christmassy thoughts)
(The change from normal to cursive print shows where one person stopped and another person picked the text up, while the words in bold show which word the person drew from the Christmas hat.)
And like each year,
Prince Charles has just one Christmas wish:
His darling mother’s crown served to him on a dish.
He has hoped and wished for nearly 40 years,
but his hope has always ended in tears
The perfect decoration
For a Christmas-scheming family tree
that leads (he thinks) “from William the Conk, to me”
And yet each year goes by with a sigh
What is his mother – why will she never die?
He would stab her right in the heart
if he was given the chance
to decorate the Christmas tree
as she had always wished
But he knew it was just a dream
As he was slurping his sugary cream
A sledge was what he got this year
His eyes were filled with more than a tear
And in the regal castle cold
his sorrows increased sevenfold
a sledge yields one a fast way down
but a way up – only a crown!
Though maybe he had still a chance
for he knew his mother well
she would have a dance
and maybe finally go to hell
In another universe made only of snow, fire and ice, there once lived a small candle. Its parents were beacons of light, respected by the whole community and called whenever trouble arose. Now the little candle loved its parents very much, but … as the candle grew older, it wanted to travel, to see the universe and to experience life. The candle started to look for opportunities to leave its home and soon found a job at a hut at a Christmas market far away from its parents. When the candle was about to leave its home and its parents, a strange person appeared at the door. He was tall and thin and dark and wore a skirt of long thin brown sticks. His name was Mr Broom and he was working at the great state opera of Vienna. They started a tenuous friendship, sharing stories, both fictional and biographical. Mr Broom was from Paris and so the little candle learned all about the beautiful city far away and the candle started to dream of travelling – not only to Paris but to other places all over the world and even farther away. One last visit to the Christmas market with Mr Broom brought the candle face to face with a tree decked with baubles. Oh, how its reflections twinkled in ten times a hundred glittering spheres! Oh, how deep down the candle looked into them all! Just to see itself, deep into itself!
She was nervous. She was holding it, covered in wrapping paper. What would they think? Drops of sweat came down on her back. She hoped no one had noticed that her face was flushed out of nervousness. She was not supposed to be here, not supposed to show up with what’s in her hand. What would they think of her?, she couldn’t stop asking herself. She approached the Duchesse who sat on her cybernetic throne, he fourteen arms tapping impatiently on the control panels.
“Whatttt do you have?”
“A gift, my lady.”
“And what do you ask of your Duchesse?”
“That you let the prisoner XV1-5NTA go.”
The insectoid beast laughed.
“And whyyy should I accede to such a large requessst?”
She removed the item from its Christmas wrapping. It sat in her palm, ticking gently. The room fell silent.
“Because I’m holding a thermal detonator.”
At that statement, the guards came rushing forward.
“Stop!”, the Duchesse held back the soldiers. “Whattt do you think you will accomplish with this, girl? Even iff I let your friend go, you’ll never make it out of the Fortress of Kryptil.”
“You let me worry about that, your Highness. Now, get on with it!”, Alice demanded.
The Duchesse tapped on her throne, flicked a holographic screen that showed the release of the prisonder XV1-5NTA – a jolly man, even after a stint in prison.
“Now what, you little peassssant?”
“Now this, my lady!”, with these words, Alice threw the thermal detonator to the guards that jumped at I, panicked. The she activated the portal generator hidden in her watch and jumped into the glowing pond of space-time distortion.
Alice found herself and X on an ice-skating rink on the other side of the portal. It wasn’t a safe place, not anymore. The Duchesse would eventually find them. But it was worth escaping. Alice and X could celebrate one last Christmas together.
“Thanks for the gift”, X said, “You shouldn’t have.”
One day, there was a sad little Christmas tree. He was sad because nobody wanted to decorate him. The family members always argued with each other when it came to decorating him. Especially the brother and the sister. Little Mike always yelled at his sister because wanted to hang her Barbie dolls on our little tree. And then there was the dog. Whatever the conflicted family members managed to hang on the tree -miraculously- they would be knocked down by the dog. He was so sniffy and curious and always wanted to play with the decoration.
As it happens, during Christmas time, the whole family went to the shopping mall together. And of course, it was dismal (as shopping malls around Christmas often are). It was packed, the people were rude and the trees were huge, dead and made of plastic. The family all felt the weight of the terrible place with the huge, dead, plastic trees towering over them. The only element of nature in the whole shopping mall seemed to be a tender bough of holly gently placed over the entrance to a pet shop.
It was a curious shop, with wooden signs where those around it where made of garish plastic. Little Mike looked at a toad in the window, accompanied by his sister. There was a moment of peace as they both dreamed of Hogwarts, eyes shining. Here, dear reader, I feel like I ought to point out that Christmas is the time when dreams, however improbable they seem, do come true. Because that vendor, as it goes, not only was his shop an oasis of silence, but he also sold pets and pet-shaped or inspired Christmas decorations. The family finally agreed on the décor – they all loved it! And the issue of the dog knocking off the tree was also resolved.
He sold wood-wares as well; signs and birdhouses and tables, too. So now the Christmas tree of little Mike, the little sad tree who didn’t have to be sad anymore, stands on a table up high, where no dog can reach it, not even in a stretch.
(And some more typed-up texts, including the infamous GLITTER)
“I am dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Without Trump or Brexit,
Or aught that wrecks it,
Like the AfD or FPÖ…”
Hopefully, Grandma’ll be there and cheer things up,
We’ll have some of her famous eggnog, but just one cup.
Politics are like castles in the sand:
Hard to build,
Easy to destroy,
They can barely manage to stand
tis the message of so many books
so many songs and collections in so many nooks
When power rises for power’s sake
When the new is feared and the foreign causes personal quakes
Atrocities follow and the cup is squeezed
so tight the eggnog spills out of the splinters
Many wonder about why our generation loves Harry Potter
It’s because we feel the pressure getting hotter and hotter
An opera it is
with singers who can’t sing
and performers who tend to bring
the worst out of us
the evil, the dark, the bark
desiring to heave the sledge
all to themselves
I want to go to a hat in the wood
But really none of us should
to retreat back into a peaceful world
and let all that evil be unfurled
Sadly, the world has no cleaning personnel,
so the only way for all to be well
is us going out there and doing the job
of standing up against the ghastly mob.
The GLITTER always wears off
it is never enough
even if its’ a Christmas show
especially if moral is low
the GLITTER never lasts long
not even the length of a song.
Would that I had a GLITTER mill
To spray Christmastide
So that in great sparkle it ever should be
From the lowest small present to top of the tree
The GLITTER forever would shine,
As I poured it on all I could find
All I could find to pour
All over my lovely little tree
Shines with pride and love
It’s the flower of the family
And the favorite of the Christmas tree seller
Who goes to the cellar to fulfill his guilty pleasure
Of reading A song of Ice & Fire where
That fucker John Snow gets all the ladies
The Christmas tree seller has his glittering tale
though if he reads it again it might grow stale.
One of my glittering wishes
would be to somebody do my dishes
and to wash these, my smelly socks.
That and some tinsel and winter bird plocks.
It was in 2004, when a policeman experienced that real magic exists. He was patrolling at Hyde Park when the first snowflakes of this year started to fall. He’d always loved London and the city he felt like part of his body. When something happened, he could feel it in – a robbery felt an itch in his toe, a murder like a sharp ache. But that’s not what he was concerned about. He couldn’t stop staring at the parcel wrapped by a checked, white-and-red band seemed to have appeared out of nowhere under the giant tree, the only tree in Hyde Park wrapped by Christmas lights. He frowned. The only Christmas tree, shining in the middle at the dark park like an angel fell from heaven. He wasn’t happy he had to work Christmas eve. The only thing he loved more than London, justice or the Queen herself was his only child little Katie, who was waiting for her father to come home. To little Katie, London might’ve been New York City, so far away was her father to her. Thinking of his laughter, the policemen felt himself incredibly drawn towards the parcel under the tree. But with every step he took, more itches popped up all over his boy and sharp pangs of pain seared through his body like lightning. He tried to fight the pain and continue towards the parcel. The feeling that by reaching the parcel the pain would stop was string. Where the feeling came from, however, he did not know. It was as if someone was whispering in his ear “Reach the parcel, go on, get the parcel.” He was now almost at the parcel, he only needed to stretch a little further. Finally, he had reached it. It was in his hands and only a few seconds later, unwrapped. What did the parcel hold? A picture, a picture of a young girl, smiling, smiling broadly and in anticipation at a large roasted Turkey. That little girl was his Katie. Katie as she must exist and breathe that night. The itches he had felt were gone. They had represented his yearning for his daughter. But even though the itch was gone, the fact that he missed his daughter was not. Suddenly, his ears started to buzz and all he heard was the tune from a toothpaste advertisement. Oh Katie, he thought, why can’t I be with you?
We’re all waiting for the bell. That’s right.
The X’mas bell- The only time in a year that the bell is activate. What’s the big deal with a bell, you say?
The deal is big. Not only because it’s X’mas, but because it’s a bell that has magic power. Once a year, everyone in town waits around the tower, even in the snow to wait for the bell to get activated. They mayor of the town would activate the bell at midnight of X’mas eve. With the sound of the bell the town’s people turn and hug each other. I even hug my weird neighbour. But in that moment, his weirdness doesn’t matter. It’s the magic of the bell. We start to do the most unusual things, like that one time where we all went to see a ballet performance. It was about Sherlock Holmes who saved Christmas and solved the murder of Mr. Grinch though the power of dance. You’ll never guess who killed him – it was Uncle Tim. Wait, you guessed it? Alright, yeah, Tim is “quite” a creep, true. If you haven’t experienced his weirdness yourself, I may give you a tiny insight into it: Last Christmas, he put a reindeer into his garden. Not a plastic reindeer, a real one, breathing and living. It was meant to be decoration. But then a blind person stumbled upon her leash and fell. But that’s not important because what matters is that her leash got loose and she ran away. She was free! She ran and ran until she reached another world. A world where everything was perfect.
Little Katie only had one wish for Christmas. It was not a doll house, nor was it a pony. It wasn’t the complete collection of all Tarantino films, not the newest of the iPhones. All she wanted was a carpet. A soft carpet. The softest carpet in the world she had seen while shopping with her Mommy. They’d gone to this shop on a bright, crisp day and Katie had the deep desire for something new or different. Then they stumbled upon the carpet. Tiny spots of light. Tiny spots reminding her of stars in the sky. On the way from the shop to the car, Katie passed a homeless person and felt NOTHING!!!!!! She was startled by her lack of emotions, so she asked her mum if she knew how homeless people celebrate Christmas. She answered with a heavy smile that she didn’t know and added that one day, the homeless person might become a person like the Earl of Rochester. Little Katie didn’t know what her mum wanted to tell her but decided not to continue asking. The next day, little Katie and her mum wen shopping and coincidentally passed the same homeless person like the day before. Just then they realized that it was Mitch Buchannan.
What are snowflakes?
Not quite but future lakes?
In the world of rain: fakes?
What the winter sky makes?
Something that won’t cause quakes?
Completely foreign to snakes?
Anyway, whatever it takes
I hope they’ll be here when Christmas wakes.
But which is the snowflake I yearn to see?
The small one that doesn’t seem to be?
Or a delicate one that twirls with glee?
Maybe one known as “The Duke” which
with its imperial largeness does impress me.
So many varieties, but must a choice there be?
As long as all is white with snow; house, street and tree,
So long, I will, this this Christmas, feel happy.
Some fall on held hands
Some on parted lips
Some on the house which I haunt
Some on kebab at the local beloved
5-star-reviews on Yelp
fast food restaurant
Snowflakes, too, on a hustler fall,
On sheep huddling by a drystone wall,
On a valley once filled with an owlbear’s call
(Which now, except snow, fills with nothing at all,)
And on you and me, standing quiet and small,
As together we watch for December snows,
Where snowflakes come, there Christmas goes.