The neighbours were all ready to hurl their puddings and their dishes right in the mother’s face, only they were interrupted by a small, unobtrusive family who appeared in amongst the crowd and started to speak, quietly at first but with a quality in their voices that made everyone else stop and listen. It was the bitter family from down the hill, only, they looked unlike they had ever looked before. They stood together, shoulders lowered, features softened, arms placed gently around one another in a quiet, almost sheepish manner.
“We ate the pudding,” said the mother of the family. “We didn’t even ask for one. It was just on our doorstep when we got up this morning. At first we said we wouldn’t eat it, because nothing good had ever happened to us so why would strange food randomly placed on our doorstep be any different? But then we ate it; and soon our mouths started to taste something, not sweet, but calm, and soon the shack we lived in started to look beautiful, and soon we looked beautiful too. The pudding tasted soft, gentle, not a strong flavour…It tasted somehow like…like it tastes to accept things. For the first time in years we ate a meal that didn’t hiss like metal on our tongues.”
All the neighbours were amazed. Of all the families who had eaten the pudding, only this one family, the bitterest family in all of these hills, had tasted what the pudding was meant to taste like. What no-one knew was this – that the bitter family, who had drunk the fruit of bitterness for so long that it no longer affected them, were transformed by the faintest taste of the magic liquid the mother had put in to the pudding. The goblin’s poison had no power over them.
But what, you might be asking, was in that magic liquid? Well, to explain that, I would have to tell you a story from long, long ago, before those hills even existed, and I would tell you the story, but not tonight, because
Peter looks over at Alana, now sleeping beside him. Leaning over to switch off the bedside lamp, he pauses to kiss her forehead.
“Did I fall asleep?” she asks.
“Yes,” he says. “The story is over. Did you hear the happy ending?”
Alana says something he does not catch. He asks her what she said.
“It’s not true,” she says slowly, dreamily.
“Not true?” says Peter. “What do you mean?”
“The story. It wasn’t true.”
“Of course it wasn’t,” says Peter, with a laugh. “Goblins aren’t real and there’s no such thing as a magic Christmas pudding and…”
“No,” says Alana. “I mean what you said in the story. They don’t accept me.”
“I don’t know what you…”
“My parents,” says Alana. “They don’t accept me. The story isn’t true.”
End of the First Candle. Go to the Second Candle.