For a four year old girl, Queen’s Day is the most special day of the year. It is the day Father Odin returns to celebrate his meeting with the first queens almost two thousand years ago.
Zandria remembered the story her mother told her last year. Father Odin is one of the Immortals who lived in Empyrean before there were any queens. When the first queens took their thrones, all of the Immortals left Empyrean. Now every year, Father Odin comes back, delivering gifts to all the children. His gifts are reminders of how the queens saved Empyrean.
Zandria’s mother told her Father Odin has special helpers called Pitirs. Pitirs do chores for Father Odin and help him plan his trip. They also have the unpleasant task of taking away children who misbehave or disobey the queens’ rules. The Pitirs come to Banookanook before Father Odin and search through the village making sure the children are asleep. Families even leave food out for the Pitirs to keep them happy.
Queen’s Day is supposed to be special, but this year, for Zandria it was not. This year, Zandria’s mother and father had something to tell her.
“Sweetheart,” said Zandria’s mother, “you are going to have a new baby brother or baby sister.”
Zandria loved her parents and did not like the idea of having to share them with anyone.
That night, when everyone was asleep, Zandria snuck out of their hut. She wanted to find Father Odin and tell him not to bring the new baby. Being four years old, she thought that was how babies might arrive.
On Queen’s Day Eve, the moon always shone bright and full. Zandria could see all of the huts in her small village. At the far end of the beach, she could see the hundreds of candles that decorated the Palace by the Sea. She knew these colorful lights were meant to help guide Father Odin on his way.
Even at four, Zandria was a smart girl. Already, she suspected her parents of delivering the single present she got each year. She enjoyed the day of singing and decorating their huts, but she did not believe there was magic in her world now, if there ever was. She did not really expect to meet Father Odin. However, as she walked between the huts with colorfully painted seashells hanging from the eaves, she was determined to stop him from changing her family, if he was real.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, something dashed between two huts. She spun around to see, but nothing was there. Suddenly, there was a noise behind her. When she turned, she saw a shape jump from one roof to the next. Now, she was quite aware of several figures moving in the darkness around her. This made her wish she had never gotten out of bed. She started to wonder if this could be the Pitirs coming to take her.
Zandria turned to go back to bed and crashed into a tall figure. The force of her collision knocked her down into the sand. She looked up to see a tall man with a bushy, white beard. He was dressed in red and green robes, holding a crooked wooden staff. Behind him, another of the mysterious figures carried a sack stuffed full of presents.
“Why are you awake so late, Zandria?” asked a surprisingly gentle voice, when she expected a booming roar from someone his size. She knew it could only be Father Odin. She always listened intently to her mother’s stories and her mother always described him so well.
“I don’t want it, I don’t want the baby,” she said.
Father Odin scooped her up with one large, strong hand. He said, “Let me tell you a secret, you are going to have a baby sister soon.”
Zandria wondered how he could know it was a girl baby, not even her parents knew that.
He continued, “Your parents have more than enough love in their hearts for both you and your new sister. This is the time when we are supposed to be thankful for all our gifts. Things will change for you soon and then you will have the most important job and your friendship with your sister will be greater than any gift I could ever give you.”
Zandria did not quite understand, because four year olds do not always understand these things. Still, she felt a special warmth in her heart that melted away her fears. Zandria knew the warmth came from the knowledge and magic of this special message from Father Odin. She loved her parents and knew deep in her heart they could only give her love in return.
Father Odin returned her to her hut and left her with a gift. She fell asleep thinking a better present was yet to come. When the baby got here, this would be the best Queen’s Day ever.
Merry Christmas and Happy Queen's Day to all!