12 Days of Christmas: Magical Time of Year (Day 12)

12 Days of Christmas: Magical Time of Year (Day 12)

When Pippa woke, the fields of Magpie Field were full of Christmas trees! She giggled profusely. She ate, took care of her horses, and then spent a good amount of time harvesting the trees. She planted the seeds that the Christmas trees dropped immediately. The trees were bundled together and ready for delivery to the villages. At the sight of the white air feather fir, Pippa gasped. The tree was literally white, like one of those white Christmas trees from the store, the ‘needles’ like big feathers. It glowed with little blue lights and actually floated above the ground. It pained her to harvest them, they were so pretty. She was very careful with the third one to dig it up without hurting it.

She did sniffle when she turned the other two into boards. They were so pretty. It just wasn’t fair. She wiped her eyes as she saddled Marquees. “It had to be done, but I feel awful,” she said.

Marquees whuffled and blew into Pippa’s hair.

Pippa smiled at her and hugged her. “Thanks. I knew you’d understand.”

On the way to the Mirror World, Pippa stopped in the villages along the way to set up some of the Christmas trees. The children giggled and squealed as they danced around them as she used magic to put on the lights and set up the ornaments. They were so excited.

Pippa stopped by the blacksmith and picked up the runner polish. The blacksmith and her exchanged salutes.

Pippa tied off Marquees outside of the Mirror World entrance. “I won’t be long,” she promised the big draft horse.

Holda waved at her where the reindeer and horse were pastured.

Pippa smiled at her, her hands too full to wave back.

Holda saw all her packages and laughed. “You’ve been busy.”

“You have no idea!” Pippa wiped her brow. “I’ve got everything for Santa’s outfit, except, well, the things he said that were for magic.”

“Well, you’re going to have to collect them all,” Holda said.

“But where am I to get freshly fallen snow?” Pippa wailed. “It might not snow again before Christmas!”

Holda just raised an eyebrow at her.

“Oh, do you have any ideas where I could plant a white air feather fir tree?” Pippa asked.

“Where did you get one of those?” Holda sounded astonished.

“I grew it!” Pippa beamed at her. “Santa’s sleigh is a wreck.”

“Oh, he must have,” Holda’s lips twitched and she stomped her foot. “Joy riding. AGAIN.”

Pippa’s eyes widened and she burst into laughter. “That’s a horrible pun!”

“It’s his own fault. And I know he won’t admit it.” Holda glowered.

“Well, I had to grow some white air feather firs to get boards to fix it.” Pippa held them up. “And I had an extra.”

“All right, well, to get fresh fallen snow, you’re going to have to use music magic.”

“Music magic?”

“Yes, you’re going to have to do a snow dance,” Holda said. “In the normal world. Go to a clearing in the forest, I’ll mark a good one on your map, and dance and sing.”

Pippa laughed. “That doesn’t sound too hard.”

“I’ll teach you the words and the steps,” Holda said. “Now listen carefully and watch.” Holda danced and sang “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.”

Pippa watched and then did a practice song. Nothing happened, but it was summer!

Holda clapped her hands. “You’re a natural!” she said.

“I also need to get unpopped popcorn, chestnuts, and mint leaves,” Pippa said, checking her list.

Holda nodded. “Well, it is the season for those things. I’m sure there are people who will have each item.” Holda continued, “Now, a white air feather fir tree should be planted here in the Mirror World.”

“It won’t hurt it that it’s summer, will it?”

“Not a bit!” Holda grinned. “You take it here and well, there is a very small grove of them there. Their caretaker will be happy to see another one. You might even get a reward.”

“All right. Then, I’ll get started on that,” Pippa said. She waved at Holda. She went over to the horse. “I told the children about you,” she said as she started to take care of him.

He perked up. “Will there be carrots?”

“I did mention you liked carrots and something about the naughty and nice list.”

The horse’s ears tilted forward and he pranced in place. “Oh, I hope there will be carrots.”

Pippa pursed her lips together. “But, now, why can’t you try to be friendlier with the reindeer.”

The horse’s demeanor changed instantly. “Because they aren’t needed.”

“That’s not the point. They think you’re rude and arrogant. It wouldn’t hurt you to be nice to them,” Pippa said. “Maybe you could be friends. Things would go much easier, if you could be friends.”

“We both do the same things,” the horse said. “One of us is redundant and it won’t be me.”

“So, you can’t pull the sleigh together?”

“No,” the horse huffed.

Pippa sighed. “It could much easier if you worked together.” She tilted her head. “Maybe Santa could ride you and there would be more room in the sleigh for presents.”

“Have you seen Santa’s sack? It doesn’t matter how big it is, all the presents fit. It’s magic.

“I’m just,” Pippa scowled. “Fine. Just. Be that way. So much for compromise and peace on Earth and good will towards reindeer and horses.” She stuck her nose up in the air. “Completely forget the spirit of the season. I wouldn’t want to offend the Christmas spirits. But you do you!” She flounced away.

The horse looked after her vaguely alarmed. “I don’t want to offend the Christmas spirits either!” he called out. “Pippa!”

Pippa ignored him and spread out the food for the reindeer.

The reindeer who seemed to be the spokeswoman spoke up, “Miss Pippa, we’ve been thinking about what you said.”


“And we don’t want to be replaced with goats, yaks, or…” She paused. “Rabbits.” The last word was grated out as if it offended her.

Pippa raised her eyebrows.

“We didn’t think about how the horse must have felt about us. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was arrogant.”

“So, would you be able to apologize?” Pippa asked.

“If he apologizes to us,” the reindeer said. “We can apologize to him. He wasn’t the least bit friendly.”

“Well, I was thinking about a compromise. Maybe if Santa rode the horse, there would be more room in the sleigh for presents. The world is getting bigger. He might need more bags.”

The reindeer waved her head back and forth. “You are ridiculous.”

“I know, I know, magic bag.” Pippa waved a hand. “It was a thought! It is good you thought of his feelings. I’ll tell him.”

The reindeer muttered but didn’t tell her not to.

Pippa returned to the horse. “The reindeer didn’t understand how upset you might have been at the thought you might be replaced.”

“Well, isn’t that dandy?” the horse muttered.

“Hey now!” Pippa put her hands on her hips. “It’s a start. They feel bad about it.”

“They do?”

“They do.” Pippa nodded.

The horse grumbled. But he didn’t do anything else.

Pippa sighed. “Okay, go on all of you being stubborn and not talking to each other. I’ve got things to do.” She stalked over to the sleigh and pounded the boards in place. She polished the runners and then triumphantly got out the paint and freshened the whole thing up. Almost against their will, the reindeer and horse were interested. They came over and watched. Pippa finished and wiped off her hands. There. Tomorrow she could decorate it once the paint dried. She nodded to herself.

“See you tomorrow!” she shouted at the horses and waved at them, headed back to Marquees.

12 Days of Christmas: Do They Know it’s Christmas? (Day 8)

12 Days of Christmas: Do They Know it’s Christmas? (Day 8)

The castle was in a bustle, but the cook was willing to give her and Marquees some cookies and brightened when she asked for the recipe. They were the lady’s favorite “Russian Tea Cakes” also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or even Snowball Cookies. He gave her the recipe and as a treat, since she was helping decorate for Candy Cane Lane and all, treated her to peppermint hot cocoa (and gave her the recipe.) He told her that one of the café owners was doing a poinsettia blooming marshmallow flower cocoa but it couldn’t beat his peppermint hot cocoa.

Pippa stifled a giggle. She was going to have to track that poinsettia recipe down!

But now, she had cookies to bake for Wodan. She hoped he liked powdered sugar!

That didn’t explain why the lord’s castle was in such a fuss. The cook quickly explained. There was to be a party and the lady was at wit’s end cleaning everything up. Perhaps when it was closer to the party, Pippa could help decorate. He was sure that the two would love Pippa’s help.

Pippa promised to look into it. Right now she was extremely busy with prepping the town square for Christmas.

“Of course, that has to come first!” the cook agreed.

Pippa quickly finished her cookies and dashed back to the farm. She needed to get Mini Hump and bake some cookies for Wodan.

While she baked cookies, Pippa had a chance to look over her achievement list. There were the ones she already knew about of course, light up so many trees with Christmas lights, find so many Christmas recipes, and decorate with so many Christmas trees. There were others. Put out so many Christmas lamps. Decorate so many lamp posts. Put out candy cane light decorations. Place so many garlands. Hang so many ornaments. String so many lights over the streets. Gather so many pine boughs. Decorate with so many Christmas wreathes. Put out so many presents. Hang so many ribbon bows. Put out so many candelabras in the windows. Create so many icicles. Why, she’d already started on one and didn’t know it, make so many candy canes. That had to be because she was in the Candy Cane Lane district. Knit so many stockings and then decorate with the exact same number of stockings. That made her giggle. There were some she didn’t understand. “Decorate with so many Christmas cones. What are Christmas cones?” Maybe Vesper would know.

There was just so much to do to get the district ready for Christmas. And she was getting coupons for all of it? And there was a light display for her farm if she saved all of them? She wondered what it was! She had a feeling that the coupon store with Santa was going to be extremely tempting!

She finished up the cookies for Wodan.

She had to run Mini Hump through his warm ups before they could go anywhere. But Mini Hump was a cheerful sort of fellow and eager to please. They trotted off into the woods and she remembered to tie him up before she went into the Mirror World. She didn’t want to have to track him down when she came back out.

She took off her coat and put it over her arm, slinging her saddlebags over her should. “Wodan! Wodan! I made you cookies as promised!” she called out.

“Hah!” Wodan shouted back. “I knew you would remember. Come meet my horse and my reindeer.”

He was further back in a clearing.

Pippa beamed at him and then came to stop. There were reindeer everywhere. And Wodan’s horse, well, he was a huge white one. But that’s not what made her stop, she was expecting all of that. No. It was Santa’s sleigh and it, well, there were no other words for it, it looked like a terrible wreck.

“Wodan, what happened?” she asked and pointed at the sleigh. It sagged in the middle. Paint was flaking off. “You can’t show up to the parade like that!”

“Oh, it’s fine.”

“It’s not fine!” Pippa stomped her foot. “We’ll just have to add it to the list of things to fix,” she said. “Here are your cookies!”

“Snowball cookies!” Wodan’s eyes lit up. “Did you know, one year, someone left me Santa faced sugar cookies with coconut beards and currant eyes. Leaving me my face for milk and cookies. I felt like a cannibal. I almost put them on the naughty list next year. But, Granny Gette was a nice old lady and I just couldn’t go through with it.”

Pippa laughed. Wodan was silly.

Wodan gobbled the cookies, getting powdered sugar and crumbs in his beard.

Overhead his crows cawed.

“No. You can’t have any!” Wodan shook his fist at them. “You messed up my suit.” He paused. “How goes that?”

“It’s going. I’ve got most of the materials I need.” She pulled out the instructions. “But, I don’t understand why I need dried popcorn, chestnuts, fresh fallen snow, and mint.”

“Oh, that is for the magic!” Wodan waved his hands. “Holda will help you with that bit.”

“Good to know.” Pippa put the instructions away.

Wodan finished his cookies. “Now. I’ve a lead on my book.” He glowered. “Hugin and Munin brought it to me, as they should! Given all the trouble they’ve caused this year.” Wodan put a finger next to his nose. “You see, to get into my sack you have to have magic like mine. And well, those sooties saw one of the winter elementals rummaging around my sack.” Wodan harrumphed. “He must have taken the book. One of the ones on the naughty list. If he wasn’t, he is now!”

Pippa frowned. “A winter elemental?”

“He’s probably left a trail of ice.” Wodan waved a hand. “But he’s far away now. I’ve got Hugin and Munin looking.” He glared up at them. “Or they’re supposed to be!” The crows cawed and flapped off.  “Well, we’ll figure it out. Ready to meet my horse and the reindeer? I’m leaving it to you to take care of them while I’m off hunting the elves.”

“I’d love to!” Pippa smiled.

Santa introduced her to his steeds and showed her how to care for them. The horse was pretty easy. He just needed the same type of care that her horses needed. The reindeer wanted salt licks and carrots and sweet potatoes. They could eat a lot different things than the horse.

Wodan seemed pleased. He patted her arm and took off on a different horse with six legs.

So, nothing happened until he was gone. And then Pippa had a revolt on her hands. Because, despite the fact they’d been quite quiet while Wodan was there, both the horse and the reindeer could talk. And neither side, the horse and the reindeer, liked each other very much.

The horse despised the reindeer.

The reindeer didn’t want to pull the sleigh or be in any parade if Santa was going to ride the horse.

The two parties glared at each other and separated to opposite sides of the field.

Pippa felt lost. “Oh dear,” she said. But today, neither of them were willing to listen to her. She was going to have to earn their trust and hopefully, Santa’s arrival would go off without a hitch.

Of course, the sleigh needed fixing too. She gave it a detailed inspection and sighed. She was going to have to ask the carpenter what type of wood the sleigh was by taking some of the old falling apart pieces. It needed to be repainted. The sleigh runners polished. And of course, it needed to be redecorated! Maybe some lights and evergreen garlands and ribbons and bells. There had to be sleigh bells. She probably should make sure there were new things for the horse and reindeer as well. Pippa shuddered. She couldn’t send Santa into town like this!

Oh, but it was adding to her list of things to do!

12 Days of Christmas: Gimme that Cheer (Day 6)

12 Days of Christmas: Gimme that Cheer (Day 6)

It was a lot of work and riding, and there were plenty of trees to decorate on the way! She went to the four cardinal corners of the district and ended up collecting four red items, a red cardinal feather, a cranberry, a holly berry, and a poinsettia.  She found a white pine needle, cypress tree oil, and fir sap. She soon understood why she needed a white pine needle when she saw the other trees. Their needles wouldn’t work as needles at all!

She went to her favorite clearing to try and lure in some rabbits. It took a few tries before she got angora rabbits. She used her calm animal spell and well, the rabbits were very understanding and helpful. Their poor babies were overheating they had so much wool. They were so pleased when Pippa clipped them down to a more reasonable fur length, they even cuddled up to her afterwards. Pippa made sure to keep the baby angora down separate from the adult angora down, as the adults were in need of a trim too before they started pulling their own hair out!

If she’d had room at the farm, she might have taken the entire family home! They were just that adorable.

She brushed snow off her coat as she sat up. She looked at Marbel. “Ready?” she asked.

He whickered at her and rolled his eyes.

She waved at the rabbits who were hopping away and mounted Marbel. They trotted towards an entrance to the Mirror World. They stopped on the other side so Pippa could take off her coat.

“Oh, to be warm!” Pippa groaned.

Marbel rolled his eyes. “And yesterday you wanted snow!”

“I hadn’t been out in it all day yesterday!” Pippa retorted.

Marbel sniffed and made huge eyes at her. “Those apples smell wonderful.”

“They’re for the yule sheep!” Pippa said.

“If I don’t taste one, how will you know they’re good for the Yule sheep?”

“Marbel!” Pippa frowned at him.

He made bigger eyes.

“Oh, fine, ONE!” Pippa said and pulled a Christmas apple out.

Marbel took it and munched on it, making horrible noises of contentment and happiness. Pippa sighed. She knew they’d been fine!

Marbel seemed to know where everything was. When he finished his apple, he trotted deeper into the mirror world. Pippa gasped as they came to the top of a hill and looked into a valley below. It was full of Yule sheep. And Yule sheep weren’t like ordinary sheep at all. Their fur was like silver, it gleamed and sparkled in the sun. And they had red or green faces and legs! The horns of the rams gleamed like bronze and they seemed very over protective of their flock. The flock was huge, full of sedate ewes and lambs that jumped up and down.

Pippa giggled thinking of the goats she’d helped decorate. She reached into her back and took out an apple. Now, she just needed to lure some of the sheep through, there, some bushes with prickers on them! Pippa carefully rolled the apple near some of the sheep. And the baker was right, they couldn’t resist the apples at all. She led them through the pricker bushes and back out again, being careful not to get too close. And soon the sheep were back in the field, munching on grass and the rest of the apples, and she could go and get the bundles of fleece off the bushes.

It sparkled in her hands and she marveled at it as she put the clumps in her bag. It was so beautiful!

“Now, to Wodan.” Pippa frowned. “Oh, he’s probably off chasing elves, How are we going to find him this time?”

“Ho, ho, ho!” Marbel said. “He found you!”

Pippa’s eyes widened as she turned and looked. Yes, the procession of spirits was coming down out of the sky, Wodan and Holda in the lead.

“Been feeding my sheep!” Wodan bellowed at her, but he grinned behind his beard.

“They seem to like apples!” Pippa said in a teasing tone. “And I had special Christmas caramel apples!”

Holda laughed.

Wodan pouted. “And you didn’t save one for me.”

“Well, I thought you’d prefer cookies,” Pippa teased.

Holda laughed harder. “He does! He does!”

Pippa nudged Marbel and the two went to meet Wodan and Holda. “Any luck with the elves?” She asked.

“Not yet,” Wodan grumbled.

“I am glad to see you!” Pippa said. “I’ve been told by an authority that I need lumps of Christmas coal to make a pine needle for your outfit. And I was wondering if I could look in the past naughty and nice book to see who had received Christmas coal.”

Wodan faked a frown. “Well.”

“It’s not top secret,” Holda told him. “Do you want a new outfit or not? This will be faster for Pippa than having to ask everyone in the district! And who would want to admit to being naughty?”

Wodan grumbled. “Still, it sets a bad precedent.”

“I’ll bring you cookies,” Pippa promised.

“See,” Wodan smiled. “That is my type of girl. I’ll let you look at my books and you bring me cookies.”

Holda sighed. “He would have let you look anyways.”

Pippa wrinkled her nose. “This gives me an excuse to look for Christmas cookie recipes and earn Christmas coupons.”

Holda laughed.

Wodan put a finger next to his nose and wriggled it. A sack popped into existence. “There it is!” he said. He reached into the sack and pulled out a stack of books. “Naughty and Nice,” he rumbled. But then he frowned. “Huh.”

“Huh?” both Pippa and Holda asked.

Wodan set the books down and stuck his hand back into the sack, fishing around. “It should be in here,” he mumbled.

Pippa and Holda looked at each other. Holda seemed alarmed. Pippa was just confused.

Wodan’s frown turned into an outright scowl. He stood up and put his fists on his hips. “It’s gone!” he said. And before either Pippa or Holda could ask. “This year’s Naughty and Nice book is missing!”

Now, both Pippa and Holda were alarmed.

“No. That can’t be!” Holda said.

“It is!” Wodan told her.

“We’re going to have to find it,” Pippa said.

Wodan narrowed his eyes. “Yes. Yes. We are. Just another thing to do before Christmas!” He shook his head. “All right, here is the last few years of naughty and nice,” he said. “I’ll have to do some questioning before we look for this year’s book. Whoever took it is going permanently on the naughty list!” he raised his voice into a yell.

Pippa slapped a hand over her mouth. That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all!

Pippa flipped through the books and took notes of names. She would have to go and ask all of them, very discreetly of course, if they had Christmas coal. And, she hoped to encourage them to try and be nice this year. There was only so much time before Christmas!

She thanked Wodan for his help in a round about way that didn’t outright say thank you. He just laughed.

“Remember, tomorrow you bring me cookies! And I should have information about the naughty and nice book. Who knows? Maybe you can meet the reindeer and my horse!”

Marbel could barely contain his sarcasm. “Oh joy.”

“Marbel!” Pippa hissed. “I would love to meet them all.” She smiled at Wodan. “See you tomorrow.”

Her horse sighed. “Just. You. Wait,” he said.

“They can’t be that bad.”

Marbel snorted.

Pippa went around and asked those on her list if they had Christmas coal. Most of them were more than happy to give it to her. They knew it had special properties and didn’t want to just get rid of it. But they didn’t want to keep it either. It could be bad luck! Pippa assured them that she would take it and she would tell no one that they had it. They were extremely grateful.

Pippa was ready to return to the tailor and the blacksmith. They were both happy with her finds and told her, predictably, to return tomorrow. Pippa checked in with Vesper.

“Sounds like you’ve had a busy day!” Vesper said. “Here are your coupons,” she said and passed them over with a wink.

“Thanks! See you tomorrow!” Pippa told her.

Vesper grinned. “Tomorrow!”

Pippa yawned.

Marbel yawned too.

“I’m hungry and tired.”

Marbel snorted.

“You had a snack!” Pippa told him, tartly.

Marbel huffed a laugh and they headed back to Magpie Field and to bed.

12 Days of Christmas: Wrapped in Red (Day 5)

12 Days of Christmas: Wrapped in Red (Day 5)

Pippa opened up her journal to where she’d stuck the instructions. Her eyes tickled and the page swam until it formed a picture of Santa’s traditional red outfit. Pippa rubbed her eyes. There was a list of items she was going to need and she didn’t have any of them. Pippa sighed. She needed to track down the tailor. Maybe they’d know more about what was going on. Holda had said not to lose the instructions, not that she couldn’t ask advice on where to find the items on the list.

Pippa headed towards the tailor guild.

The head tailor was more than happy to see her. Pippa carefully explained the items she needed. The tailor frowned. “Those are some very odd items. What are you making again?”

“I didn’t say. It’s a very special outfit.”

The tailor’s lips moved back and forth. “You didn’t say. Of course you didn’t say. A special outfit isn’t very specific. A pine needle, cardinal dye, yule wool, baby angora down?” She sighed. “All of this is very hard to get and all just in season so I don’t have any in stock yet.”

“What am I to do then?” Pippa asked. “This is very important!”

“Do, Do! You’ll have to collect it yourself. Talk to the blacksmith about the pine needle. To collect cardinal dye, you’ll have to go to the 4 cardinal directions of the district and bring back what you find there. Yule wool? Well, you’ll have to go collect it. Yule wool doesn’t come any ordinary sheep. It comes from yule sheep. And they don’t let anyone near them.”

Pippa wanted to frown. If the sheep didn’t let anyone near them, how was she to get their wool? Oh, she’d figure it out.

“And baby angora down? Baby? That’s special. That’s so special, I can’t think of anyone with baby angoras right now.” The tailor tapped her foot.

“Do angoras live in the wild?” Pippa asked.

“Some do. Very well, you’ll have to go collect some wild angoras.” The tailor nodded. “I don’t know what the rest of your list has to do with anything, dried popping corn, chestnuts, fresh snow, mint leaves.” She waved her hands. “That doesn’t have anything to do with tailoring that I know of.”

“I’ll figure it out,” Pippa said. “Thank you for your help!”  Pippa beamed at her.

She went back to Vesper.

“Catch wild angoras?” Vesper asked. “Better talk to the vet. He’ll know what they like. Once you lure them, you can use your calm animal spell.”

“Thanks Vesper!” Pippa said. “I better hurry before it gets dark.”

The blacksmith was fortunately near the vets. She huffed. “A pine needle? A pine needle?”

“Yes, a pine needle,” Pippa said.

“I don’t know what you need one of those for. They’re a specialty item, hard to make, very magical and you can only use them once!”

“I need one,” Pippa said. “Can you show you me how to me make it?”

“All right, all right, but you’re going to need special ingredients. A needle from a white pine tree, cypress tree oil, fir tree sap, a bucket of feather ice, and lumps of Christmas coal.”

“That’s a lot of items!” Pippa said, typing quickly into her phone. It was a good thing she was going out into the forest to find angora rabbits! She frowned as she finished typing in lumps of Christmas coal. “What are lumps of Christmas coal?” she asked.

“Why the coal that Santa leaves to bad children!” the blacksmith said.

Pippa’s eyes widened. “How am I to get any of that?”

“You’re going to have to ask around,” the blacksmith told her.

Pippa bit her lip. Maybe Wodan would know who he’d given Christmas coal to in the past. It would be in his naughty and nice book, correct? She could go ask him. She made a note of that. “Okay, I’ll get right on it,” she told the blacksmith.

Then it was onto the vet.

“Baby angora wool? At this time of year?” The vet seemed confused. “Well, angoras like alfalfa and timothy hay. It may take a few tries to get the right type of rabbit though.”

“I’ll have patience. This is important.”

“Here, take these shears to clip the angoras with,” the vet said, handing her a small set of sheers. “You don’t want to hurt them!”

“Do you know anything about Yule Sheep?”

“Yule sheep? Who told you about Yule sheep?” The vet lowered his voice. “Those don’t live on this side of the world,” he said. “Those are Santa’s sheep and live in the Mirror World. They’re nasty too. Don’t let anyone but Santa and his sooties touch them.”

“Oh no,” Pippa groaned. “Then, how am I to get their wool?”

The vet’s face lit up and his eyes twinkled in mischief. “I hear though they like candy apples. Maybe if you make some candy apples, you can lead them through some rushes and get the wool you need that way.”

“Oh, that’s brilliant!” Pippa said. “I’ll get on it right away. Thank you!”

Pippa looked at her list. So, before she went off into the forest, she was going to need to get some timothy hay and alfalfa mix. That was fine. She had that at the farm. She was also going to have to make some candy apples. She didn’t know if she had the recipe. But she knew who to ask, the head baker!

With a wave and a round of thanks to the vet, Pippa was on her way to the baker.

The baker widened his eyes. “Candy apples for Yule Sheep! Well, you’re going to need my special Christmas candy apple recipe. No ordinary harvest caramel apple is going to lure those sheep away from their feeding.” He rummaged around. “Ah hah! My special Christmas candy apples with candy cane sticks, peppermint flakes, and white chocolate!” He waved the recipe around. “No yule sheep will be able to resist these!”

Pippa giggled. “Or any horse for that matter.”

“Yes, do keep Marbel from poaching,” the baker muttered. “These are for the yule sheep. Here, I’ll make you a copy of the recipes that you’ll need to make them!” He made copies of the candy cane recipe and the candy apple apple recipe. (White chocolate, caramel she probably already has in her recipe book.)

“Thank you!”

“There will be lots of recipes available for the season. So, keep your eyes open!” the baker told her. “Collect enough of them, and there will be coupons in it for you.”

Pippa widened her eyes. “Then, I’ll definitely be on the lookout.” She tucked the recipes away in her journal and made a note that she’d gotten it on her new Christmas Achievement list that Vesper had texted her. She waved to the baker and set off for her farm, Magpie Field.

On the way, she used her new Christmas spell to put lights on the trees along the road, giggling as she did. It was so much fun. After she’d done ten, her phone pinged to tell her that Vesper had a coupon for her! Well, there wasn’t much point in going back to Vesper for one coupon. Not when Pippa had so much to do. She kept decorating trees and tried not to bounce as her phone pinged every time she decorated ten trees.

At the farm, she collected timothy hay and alfalfa from her stores. She always kept it on hand for her own rabbits. She went into her kitchen and set to work making Christmas candy apples. She made candy canes and ended up having to smash half of them for her candy bits. She made white chocolate and caramel. And then mixed the crushed candy cane bits into the white chocolate. She dipped apples into the caramel, then the white chocolate, stuck whole candy canes in them and then drizzled white chocolate tinted red over it in swirls over it, and then while the red chocolate was still tacky she tapped red crystal sugar on it to make the red swirls look like tinsel. There, no Yule sheep was going to be able to resist those!

Pippa giggled, put everything she was going to need into her saddle bags, saddled up Marbel, and hit the road.

12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Time is Here (Day 3)

12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Time is Here (Day 3)

Once they were in the normal world, Pippa sent a text to the headmistress of the school. Christmas was in danger! Santa needed their help to save Christmas. Headmistress Thyme sent a text in reply. Pippa was to report to the nearest mentor.

Pippa put her phone away and first went back to Holda. Jack and the little girl were gone. Holda paced back and forth in the snow.

“Mrs. Holda, Santa says that he’ll do Christmas if I repair his suit and prepare for his arrival,” Pippa said. “He said you’d know how to make a new suit. And he needs your help to hunt down the elves that are supposed to be making toys and aren’t.”

Holda smiled broadly at her. “Hah. So he saw reason.” She nodded. “I’ll give you the instructions on how to make his suit. Follow them carefully,” she said and waved her hand. “And don’t let anyone else see them. They’ll disappear once you’re done and the suit is safely delivered to Wodan.”

Pippa accepted the instructions with care. She put them in her sewing journal. “I’ll be careful.”

Holda put up a hand. “Don’t thank the old ones, child,” she said. “We might call upon the favor one day.”

She nodded rapidly.

Holda mounted her horse and galloped away, fading from sight.

Pippa tucked the journal away in her saddlebag. “To Vesper, Marbel,” she said. He nodded. They rode towards the Ruby District Camp.

Vesper greeted them by waving a long candy cane cane! She was in an entirely new outfit. Over her short black hair she had a red and black buffalo check trilby with a black ribbon and big silver buckle on it with a spray of candy canes. She had a circular white leather chest piece with a mint swirl candy on it that buckled with red belts over a white leather half jacket with a fur cuff and red trimmings. Her shirt that they could see was a red and black check and black cuffs. She wore a red kilt with a thick black belt and silver buckle. Her boots were white with red straps and instead of buckles, had more fake peppermint swirl candies!

She smiled at Pippa. “Welcome to Candy Cane Lane!” she said. She winked at Pippa. “I love Christmas!” Then put her finger over her lips. “But shh, it’s a secret!”

Pippa giggled. “I won’t tell a soul.”

Vesper grinned. “Here in Astranar, we go all out for Christmas.  Every district has a theme. You can choose to help one district set up for Christmas. I’ve uploaded all the information into your phone. The districts you choose not to help will be decorated automatically.”

She leaned on her candy cane, well, cane. “Let me run down them quickly. Here in the Ruby District, we have a rockin’ peppermint Christmas. Santa’s house is set up here and we decorate in red, white, and with plenty of buffalo check. In the Sphalerite District, Kitty is setting up Gingerbread Junction. They have a gingerbread town complete with a train, and decorate in orange, brown, and gold with lots of icing and candy.

“In the Citrine District, Viva is ready to make sweet music with her Angels on High theme! Angels, musical instruments, and stars make the Citrine District’s Christmas out of this world. They decorate in gold of course! In the Emerald District, Len needs your help with her Elven Holly Jolly. Santa’s workshop is there and elves don’t like to work if they can play! They decorate with holly, bells and, of course, lots of elves, and green and silver are the colors of the season.

“In the Sapphire District, Minnie is putting on the Nutcracker Parade. It’s toyland time. Ladies are dancing, lords are leaping, carolers are singing, and the toys are out in force while the snowflakes float down. Sapphire decorates in blue, white, and silver. In the Morganite District, Lottie needs help with her Woodland Christmas. All the woodland creatures have come out with acorns, pine cones, and berries to make the season special. She decorates with pink, white, gold, and brown.

“In the Amethyst District, Izzy is in a tizzy to get going on the Sugar Plum Fairy theme. She’s turning the area into the land of sweets. Cakes, ice cream, popsicles, macarons, and of course, sugar plums, that is. Of course, it is purple, gold, and white. With Izzy, could it be anything else? And last, but not least, the capitol is putting on a Coastal Christmas! Sand castles, star fish, seagulls, and everything associated with the coast is going up in the capitol. The colors are aqua and cream. There, you would talk with the Princess and Prince!”

Pippa didn’t know where she should go. It all sounded so exciting!

Vesper smiled knowingly. “Can’t make up your mind? Go and talk with all of them. See what they have to show you for their Christmas decorations! All the quests are the same in each district and depending on which district you help, you’ll get a special outfit in that district’s colors. Once you decide, you can’t change your mind. So choose wisely!” Vesper twirled her cane and tugged on her hat. “I’ll wait here for your decision, Pippa! Or, you can go to the nearest mentor and tell them your decision.”

Pippa beamed at her. “Thank you, Vesper. I will!” she said and trotted away. First, she needed to look through the information Vesper had given her. There were so many choices. She put Marbel in a stall with a bucket of water and a good brushing. “I’ll be back soon,” she said. “I just want a cocoa to warm up!”

Marbel nuzzled her in complete understanding.

Pippa skipped to the camp’s cafeteria. Although she wasn’t technically a full time camper anymore, she could still use their kitchen. She got a mug of cocoa and sat down at the table to look through the information Vesper put on her phone. She almost squealed in delight. There were pictures of the special parts of the decorations with a girl modeling the outfit they could earn and a horse showing off the gear.

There were also special Christmas recipes to make and Christmas decorations to produce. There were even some special clothes and gear to sew. Also, there was a new app on her phone, an advent calendar! Every day until Christmas, she’d get something special.

Pippa sipped her cocoa and browsed through all the information several times. She still couldn’t make up her mind. Candy Cane Lane? Gingerbread Junction? Woodland Christmas? Sugar Plum Fairy? She was going to have to go visit all of them.  Thank goodness for the train stations!

12 Days of Christmas: Here Comes Santa Clause (Day 2)

12 Days of Christmas: Here Comes Santa Clause (Day 2)

Marbel burst into a gallop and lengthened his strides into a run after the Christmas Spirit. All Pippa could do was hold on and duck her head under branches. They jumped over logs and dodged around rocks. Pippa saw the glitter of eggplant indicating an opening to the Mirror World. In the spirit of Christmas the archway was covered in holly with bright red berries. “There!” She pointed as the Christmas Spirit shot through the door.

Marbel huffed and charged through the opening and into a verdant summer. Pippa gasped in shock. Ahead of them, instead of a spark of red and green light was a childlike creature with greenish skin, pointed ears, and a red pointed hat, cape, and outfit. It hovered above the ground, going at breakneck speed.

“Redcap,” Marbel said, turning his head. “No wonder Holda doesn’t want to make them angry. Just a bit further now.”

The race started again and soon, they were deep in this section of the Mirror World and running down a ‘lane’ between evergreen trees. The lane opened up into a large grassy area and in the area there were lots and lots of spirits. The Christmas Sprite flitted off to find Wodan.

Pippa gaped until Marbel shifted underneath her. “You might want to take off that coat before you overheat,” he said.

“Is it always like this?” Pippa asked as she dismounted and took her heavy winter coat off. She tugged at her shirt.

“The Mirror World is a mirror. When it is winter there it is summer here, spring and autumn and on it goes, the cycle of seasons,” Marbel reminded her. “Though things are a bit out of whack. No wonder Wodan is grumpy. Frost is a puckish creature at the best of times.”

Pippa wrinkled her nose. “But doesn’t Santa like Christmas?”

“He loves Christmas. He just also hates leaving the Hunt.”

Across the clearing, Wodan roared. “See what you’ve done! My suit!  My suit is ruined! The snow is early, nothing is prepared, and now you’ve ruined my suit. Yes. Run! Run! Both of you sooty pranksters, run!”

Two ravens lifted off into the sky, cawing down mockingly.

“That is your cue,” Marbel said.

Pippa hesitantly approached Wodan. He was a big man with a brown beard and dressed in armor. His helm had two great wings coming off of it. Like Holda, he wore a fur cape and more tied around his calves. One of his eyes was covered with a patch. He held out a few tattered scraps of fabric that had been streaked with black coal. “Ruined!” he muttered. “And it’s almost Christmas. How am I to appear in such a state?” He shook his fist up at the sky. “When I get my hands on you two! Hugin! Munin!”

The ravens cawed more.

“Excuse me, sir,” Pippa said. “May I be of assistance?”

Wodan turned to her and put his fists on his hips. “You? Who are you?”

Pippa forced a smile. “I’m Pippa CantataGallop. I’m here to help with Christmas.”

“At this rate, there won’t be a Christmas,” Wodan grumbled. “You see what those two sooty ravens did to my suit! And the snow is early. Nothing is prepared. Nothing! And where is Holda? The Hunt must continue to chase down those elves to make sure they prepare the toys! She’s missing!”

It sounded as if nothing was going properly. Wodan’s suit was messed up. No Christmas preparations had been made. And the elves were revolting.

Pippa didn’t think she should say that she’d heard Wodan didn’t want to do Christmas. “Well, maybe I can help.”

“I don’t know how,” Wodan continued to grump. “The first thing that has to be done is hunt down those elves! Holda!” he shouted. “Holda!”

“Maybe I can help with your suit?” Pippa asked. “I can get it cleaned!”

“They tore it apart,” Wodan said.

“Then, then, I’ll make you a new one.”

“This just isn’t any suit! It’s a magic suit!” Wodan roared. “One that makes it so I can get down any chimney and into every house without being detected all at once all over the world.”

“That is a special suit,” Pippa said. “If you tell me how to make it, I’ll do my best to make you a new one. Then that is one thing you won’t have to worry about before Christmas.”

Wodan glowered at her and then stroked his beard. “Maybe, maybe you. You have powerful magic about you.” He thrust the scraps of the suit at her. “Track down Holda. She can tell you how to remake my suit,” he said. “Then send her straight back here. We need to hunt down those elves. Staging a revolt. Just before Christmas!”

Pippa nodded and stuck the suit scraps into her saddlebag. “Is there anything else I can do to prepare for your arrival?”

Wodan narrowed his good eye at her. “There’s a lot of work to be done. You can’t do it all by yourself,” he said.

“I can get it started.” Pippa lifted her chin. “What do you want?”

“I want a parade! With children, lots of children, happy ones! And candy, lots of candy to pass out.”

“And then you’ll be willing to do Christmas?”

Wodan blustered a few moments. “Decorations. There will need to be decorations. My horse will need to be prepared. The reindeer need tending. The book of naughty and nice will have to be double checked. And I must get after those elves!”

Pippa held up a finger. “Decorate, plan a parade for your arrival, candy, happy cheering children, prepare the horse, tend the reindeer, the naughty and nice book, and the elves. Is that everything?” she asked ticking things off on her fingers.

Wodan grumbled into his beard. “I guess. For now!”

Pippa smiled. “Then, I’ll go see Holda and tell her you’re prepared to do Christmas.”

Wodan gaped at her. “Now wait a moment,” he shouted.

Pippa smiled at him and mounted Marbel.

Marbel tossed his head and laughed. “Too late, Sinterklaus. You’re roped into it now!” He took off at a trot towards the exit.

Wodan crossed his arms and, when neither of them could see, he smiled into his beard.

12 Days of Christmas: Let it Snow! (Day 1)

12 Days of Christmas: Let it Snow! (Day 1)

Jack Frost, now an old man, held his scepter in his hand. It was fully charged with frost magic and glowed a cold, pale blue light, little bits of snow and light drifted from it. Jack’s bright blue eyes though were still as full of mischief as when he was a young boy during Easter, though his golden blonde hair was now pale and white blonde.

Jack smiled at Pippa and bowed to her. “Thank you for your help, fair maiden. Now winter may come without troubles and the earth may rest.”

Pippa curtseyed back. “You’re welcome, Jack. I have had so much fun.”

“The fun isn’t over yet!” Jack said. He laughed and snapped his fingers in front of her nose. A whirl of cold air and frost swirled in front of her. “Look up! Quickly!”

Pippa looked upwards. She gasped, “A falling star!” She shut her eyes and made a wish. ‘Snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!’ she thought and thought hard.

When she opened her eyes, Jack was gone.

Pippa took a deep breath of the crisp cold air and let it out. It was time for bed. She smiled and hummed “Let it Snow” as she went back to her cottage in Magpie Field.

Far away, up in the mountains in the center of Astranar, Jack Frost reappeared. He looked down at the little girl that appeared next to him. “Well, Holly my love, fair Pippa wishes for snow.” He smiled and his eyes twinkled again. “What do you say? Shall we grant her wish?”

Holly jumped up and down and clapped her hands.

“She’s given us lots of magic,” Jack said. He held out his hand. Holly took it and Jack held his scepter over his head.

Clouds swirled around him and over all of Astranar, and it began to snow.

Jack and Holly disappeared.

Day One:

The next morning, Pippa woke up to a glaring white light. She moaned and rolled out of bed, rubbing her eyes. She walked over to the window and stared. Snow! Snow was everywhere! A thick fluffy pile of it!

Her wish had been granted.

Pippa squealed, did a little dance and dashed to get ready for the day. She was going to need her coat!

She washed, brushed her hair and got dressed, and when she picked up her phone, it buzzed in her hand. She had a snowflake-gram! Pippa had never heard of a snowflake-gram before Jack Frost. But he was magic and she’d learned not to question it. He wished to meet her as soon as possible. There was new business afoot and he needed her assistance.

Pippa’s eyes widened and she finished getting ready quickly, doing a quick clean of the room before going out and feeding her animals and doing her stable chores. She threw blankets on all of the horses. They weren’t ready for this cold!

She saddled her favorite horse, her magical horse, MarbelHollow. If Jack Frost needed assistance, she might have to go into the Mirror World. The idea filled her with delight and dread. She loved the Mirror World, but it could be dangerous. She could never forget that at her peril.

She shivered a little as she and MarbelHollow jogged through the snow. It crunched under Marbel’s hooves. Little clouds of fog formed in front of their noses as they breathed. Pippa was glad for her sunglasses.

Pippa heard Jack and someone else, a woman, before she saw them. The woman was shouting.

“You miserable, snow-loving excuse of a puck!” the woman shouted. She was dressed very oddly and not at all fit for the weather. She was dressed like an ancient Viking warrior with a leather breastplate and skirt. There were furs wrapped around her calves and a fur half cape over her shoulder. Her thick blonde hair was braided over both shoulders and she wore a conical helmet. Maybe Pippa had been steeped in popular culture for too long because the helmet didn’t look finished to her. It didn’t have any horns!

“I assure you, madame, that this is all just a misunderstanding,” Jack Frost said, swinging his scepter over his head and resting it on his shoulders.

A young girl clung to his leg and looked at the woman with wide eyes.

“Misunderstanding?!” The woman stomped her foot. “You always say that, Jackie Frosty. I’m minded to add you to our Hunt for a while and teach you a lesson about playing with things that aren’t yours!”

Jack smiled at her. His eyes lit on Pippa. “Pippa CantataGallop!” he shouted. “May I introduce you to Holda? You may know her by her other name, Mrs. Claus.”

Pippa’s heart jumped. “As in Santa Claus?” she squeaked.

Holda turned to Pippa.

Jack Frost decided he better explain. He swung the scepter down and leaned on it. “Pippa, fair lady, I’m afraid that some of the ghosts we summoned for my Queen were from the Wild Hunt. Oh, you don’t know what that is? Well, when Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t dealing with Christmas, they are Wodan and Holda leading a solemn procession of spirits through the sky. We accidentally summoned some of those spirits for my gift to my Queen. Now, Wodan is in a bad mood.” He examined the end of his scepter as if the blue stone had something important to tell him.

Holda interrupted, “And he doesn’t want to do Christmas!”

“He never wants to do Christmas.” Jack rolled his eyes. “He doesn’t want to leave the Wild Hunt.”

“Christmas is his job. If he doesn’t do Christmas and it’s not prepared properly, the Christmas spirits will act up. If you thought the Pumpkin Queen’s hobby horses were bad, this is worse. No Christmas for any one!” Holda shook. “It’s those ravens of his, I know it. They’d do anything to keep Santa with the Hunt. And he’s not listening to me!”

Jack’s eyes twinkled. “Perhaps Pippa can get Wodan to see reason. She is a child, after all.”

Holda glowered at him, and then looked at Pippa. “He always wants something,” she grumbled. “Find out what it is and give it to him. I’ll handle the Hunt while he’s gone.”

“As she does every year,” Jack interjected.

“It will be safely in my hands. He doesn’t need to worry.” Holda nodded.

Pippa bit her lip. Talk to Wodan while he was leading the wild hunt? But if she didn’t, there wouldn’t be any Christmas. Would she really negotiate with Wodan? Pippa steeled her spine. She would. Everyone needed Christmas! “I’ll do it,” she said. “Where could I find him?”

“He’s resting in the Mirror World,” Holda said. She held up her hand. “This Christmas Spirit will guide you,” she said, and a red and green spark formed over her hand. It shot away into the woods. “Quickly now!” Holda shouted. “After it! Don’t let it get away!”