The Christmas King
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Michael James Bailey
Within the fables and histories of our past you hear many a tale of evil and nasty kings lording themselves over their kingdoms.
Uncaring towards their peoples and unloved in return, they bring neither joy, nor peace to their lands.
Their lives spent hoarding wealth or waging unjust war, blind to their own ugliness.
But thankfully for us, dear reader, history and legend also tell of honest, just and jolly kings.
Herein lays a tale of one such king in one such kingdom.
The walls of the great castle were strewn with the trappings of holiday cheer as the servants quickly made ready for the upcoming Christmas celebration.
Long and winding garland, entwined with boughs of mistletoe and forest shrubbery decked the halls.
The smell of spices, herbs and scented candles wafted through the castle to all the many rooms. Everywhere there was the hustle and bustle of people preparing for the grand festivities. There was an unmistakable happiness permeating all.
But there was one man, however, who believed he could bring to the people even more joy. And that man was their good king.
An honest and caring man, the king believed he was placed on his throne to make the lives of those he governed over better.
A rare trait among kings I know, dear reader.
He had laboured for years since taking the throne to gain the respect and love of the people in his care.
And now, as he looked down upon the snow covered and glistening village that clustered beneath his castle's battlements, he had an idea that would surprise them all again.
He smiled to himself at the thought of the happiness he knew it would bring.
Turning excitedly away he made his way towards his personal chambers to find his wife, the queen.
Bursting through their bedroom door the king exclaimed to the queen, "My dear I have the most wonderful idea! This will be the beginning of the best Christmas celebration the village people have ever seen. Harken to me my lady, and listen to this!"
He then proceeded to relate his whole vision to his beautiful wife and when he finished she was filled with the same feeling of fun and excitement as he.
"Come, my dear, let us away, we have much to do!"
And together, arm in arm, they swept from the room.
The servants, pages, butlers, and squires were all thrown into a rush by the king and queen as they made their plan known to those whose help they required.
Which, in the end, was most everyone.
They visited the tailor, the stables, the armoury, the kitchens and the royal treasury.
They were seen by all and they infected all with their happiness and excitement. For it was a grand plan indeed.
Soon all was in order, and all the plans laid.
The king and queen retired to their room for the evening for on the morrow they would set their plans in motion.
A light snow began to fall.
Christmas Eve dawned bright and clear; a perfect winter's day.
The new snow gleamed on the land like millions of tiny sparkling diamonds and no foul wind blew to chill the bones of the people.
Shortly past mid-morning the trumpets began to blast, their tune blown throughout the countryside.
The village people all turned their eyes to the castle's main gate as the heralds proclaimed the presence of the king and queen.
As they rode into view, the townsfolk, seeing the magnificent, unexpected spectacle before them, broke out in a loud and vigorous cheer.
For this was not the king and queen they usually see.
At the head of a joyous column of revellers, the king and queen, dressed in brilliant robes of gold and red and green with crowns of leaves and berries upon their heads, rode atop two beautifully adorned white horses. Behind them followed the great lords and ladies of the land, all adorned the same as their beloved sovereigns.
A chorus of happy voices, singing a happy tune, soon lifted into the air as the procession made their way out of the castle yard and down into the village below.
"Come one, come all!" cried the king in his hardiest voice as he made the way to the small village square,
"Harken to me good people, for I have announcements to make!"
Dismounting his horse with a happy leap, he climbed atop the giant tree stump used for public speaking, and with a flourish of his colourful ropes called out to the throng of people surrounding him,
"Hear me good people for I bring happy tidings and good cheer to all on this Christmas Eve. I have given my life to the thrill of being your king and you have always done me well in return. For this and many other joys I give thanks for in my life, I bring you all a gift! Please line up right beside me and my friends here will give to each of thee a small pouch and within it you will find a solid gold piece and a bit of chocolate from the royal confectioner for each and every one of you!"
With this another great cheer for the king arose from the crowd as they all made their way to receive such a special and precious gift.
For these people, while well off compared to some in other kingdoms, hardly have ever seen a gold piece let alone eaten chocolate.
They wept, sang, hugged and gave thanks for so gracious a king.
"You are so very welcome my friends, so welcome. But that is not all I have planned for us. Do you think we got all dressed up like this to simply bring you gold and sweets? No!
For I have another surprise for you all.
Tomorrow you are all invited to the grandest, boldest and happiest Christmas celebration this castle has ever seen!
There will be feasting, dancing, singing and merry-making all around! My great hall will be bursting with happiness! It will be the greatest Christmas ever remembered and I will see you all there!"
With that the king leapt back upon his horse and with a wave to all turned and led the procession back towards the castle.
It was indeed the greatest Christmas celebration the kingdom had ever seen.
Lords and ladies, knights and squires, all joined arm in arm with the happy villagers to give thanks and joy to their jolly, gracious, kind and fun loving king.
Songs were sung, dances danced, and all had their fill of the great feast.
As the great fire that burned within the halls massive hearth warmed all to the heart, the king turned to his queen as they sat at the head of the long table and said, "My dear it appears this has turned out to be quite the Christmas. I do believe it came off quite well indeed, don't you think? In fact I have a mind to invite the whole of my kingdom next Christmas!"
And to that the good queen replied, "Oh now that will be fun! But for that much travel I do not believe the horses will do. What do you think about a sleigh?"
And the jolly king smiled, laughed and hugged her close.
And that, my dear reader, is how he ever after became known as the Christmas King.
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