Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yuletide the Christmas Goat: The Story of the Christmas Eve Yule Log

“There are witches in the neighborhood!” cried 12-year-old Ingrid Danielsen in the Norwegian village of Vestfold.

“Why did they have to come back again on Christmas Eve?” asked her friend Yuletide the Christmas Goat, eating hay. 

The witches liked to harass Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, threatening to steal the children and their presents.

“The children will serve as our slaves and do our dirty work that we don’t have time to do ourselves,” the witches cackled. 

Ingrid looked out her cottage window to see children dressed as shepherds and wise men caroling on the street corners. She cringed as she watched a witch on her broom swoop down and steal a paper star from one of the children.

Although the witches had bullied the children before, they had never succeeded in actually kidnapping anyone.

“I want to throw them off their brooms!” Ingrid declared. “I feel like charging outside with a sword and fighting them.”

“It is Christmas Eve,” Yuletide reminded. “There’s supposed to be peace on Earth. Maybe we should just ignore them.”

Then, another witch flew down, grabbed three of the children who were caroling, and flung them on her broom.

“Never!” Ingrid cried. “The witches just snatched my cousins! This is the worst attack from them that I’ve ever seen!”

“We’re going to have to clog the chimney so they can’t fly down it,” Ingrid planned, pulling Yuletide’s beard.

“Evil shuns the bright light of a Yule Log,” Yuletide explained, nodding at the fireplace. “But I’m not sure it will be enough!” 

“The witches are more determined than ever to undermine Julenissen and his Nisse,” Ingrid admitted, lighting a match. 

“Some people call him Santa Claus with his gnomes,” Yuletide whispered. “Oh, please, make it here without a problem.”

Ingrid had spent hours making Julekurver—heart-shaped, small paper basket Christmas tree decorations. She baked cakes and biscuits, especially the Julekake with raisins while singing “Musevisa,” a popular Christmas song.

“The witches must leave the children of the village alone,” Ingrid decided. “How are we going to get through this?”

“I’m only a goat. I don’t know how much good I’ll be at getting rid of the witches on their brooms, but I’ll try,” he whispered. 

Then Yuletide meandered to a large book on the side shelf and flipped it open with his nose and pointed to a map. He read: “There’s a Magic Yule Log, hidden on the peak of Vestfjellet Mountain, which is strong enough to destroy the witches.”

“Oh, how did you know that?” Ingrid asked, placing a jingle bell necklace around Yuletide’s neck. “We must find it!”

“It’s a legend that’s existed forever, but I suppose we didn’t need the power of the Magic Yule Log until now,” he quipped. 

“If we find the Magic Yule Log and burn it in my parents’ fireplace, its power should be strong enough to kill the witches, and they’ll have to give back my cousins,” Ingrid sighed to Yuletide, almost in tears. “It has to be strong enough!”

“But we have to burn the Yule Log on Christmas Eve!” Yuletide insisted. “Not one second past midnight, or it won’t work.”

“Then we must set off now,” Ingrid determined. “It’s not even noontime, so we have at least twelve hours to succeed!”

“You’re not going anywhere!” Yuletide resolved. “I’ll run up the mountain and be back before midnight. Keep the witches away ‘till I return! After Julenissen arrives, he can help us fight the witches if they aren’t gone, but he must arrive first.”

“Mother and Father should be home shortly from the coast,” Ingrid reminded. “They only work half-a-day at fishing today!”

“I’ll leave now. If they ask my whereabouts, tell them I went wandering in the snow. I’ll be back soon,” Yuletide urged. 

“Don’t let the witches catch you!” Ingrid prayed, opening the door for Yuletide and kissing him on the cheek. 

As Yuletide journeyed to the mountaintop to retrieve the Magic Yule Log, he tried not to look in the sky at the witches. He stayed close to buildings, and then trees, trying to hide from their view, so they couldn’t snatch him with the children. When he reached the base of the mountain, a huge snowstorm ensued, hindering his sight in front of him. 

“I just have to put one hoof in front of the other up the mountain,” Yuletide encouraged himself. “The witches have to die!”

In the meantime, Ingrid huddle by the fireplace, building a large fire with the regular logs and twigs. Waiting for her mother and father, she ate one too many Christmas coconut macaroons, until she had a stomachache. By the afternoon, she became concerned that her mother and father might have been sidetracked by the witches as well.

“Now what?” Ingrid wondered. “I have to wait here for Yuletide and my parents. This is too much alone . . .”

Then, as she looked at the fireplace, she saw a broom handle sticking down the chimney with the heel of a boot.

“Oh, no!” Ingrid cried, growing the fire so a large flame caught the boot. “Go away! Back up the chimney!”

“It will never be a Juletid for you!” Ingrid heard a voice cackle. “Christmas and julefryd is over in Vestfold.”

“I will fight you until you leave me alone,” Ingrid warned. “Don’t even think that you’re going to come into my house!”

Ingrid looked out the window to see other witches snatching the caroling children onto their brooms. 

“Where are my parents?” Ingrid whispered. “If they were here, they might be some help in fighting back the witches.”

“I hate those stupid Christmas carols!” the witch spooked. “It hurts my ears to hear children sing about wise men and angels.”

“Well, then I must sing ‘Musevisa’ for you until you leave me and my village alone!” Ingrid countered, fanning the fireplace. 

Ingrid set every candle in the home at the base of the fireplace to burn along with the wood and cinders. 

“Do you really think this little flame will keep me away?” the witch menaced. “I will conjure a spell for rain and douse it!”

As the witch threatened to use her dark magic, the front door swung open, and Ingrid’s parents ran to her defense. 

“The witches are everywhere!” Ingrid’s father cried. “They’re almost overtaking the village and kidnapping children.”

“Is that a witch broom?” Ingrid’s mother inquired. “Oh, is a witch trying to invade our home? Ingrid, how did this happen?”

“I’ve been trying to fight her off,” Ingrid clarified. “The fire is growing, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.”

“Try adding herbs to the fire to make it grow,” her mother instructed, throwing dried rosemary sprigs and dried sage on the fire.

“Where is Yuletide?” Ingrid’s father noticed, as the fire jumped to its height. “The witches didn’t get him, did they?”

“He went wandering in the snow,” Ingrid lied. “He’ll be back soon. He’s only a goat, and the witches won’t want him.”

As Ingrid looked out the window, hoping Yuletide returned any minute, her mother threw more herbs on the fire. Every time the fire died down for a moment, the witch retaliated worse, sending sparks into the kitchen. 

“This is not getting rid of the witch in our chimney!” Ingrid’s father realized. “Maybe I should go on the roof and fight her.”

“Dear, please don’t do that,” Ingrid’s mother lamented. “Maybe Father Christmas will save all of us, if he can get here!”

“The witches surrounded the village in the sky in a circle!” Ingrid bemoaned, peering into the sky. “How will he ever visit us?”

“I’m going to kill you and your village! There’ll be no more Christmas anywhere in the world!” the witch yelled.

“I douse you and your fire with rain and pain,” the broom-riding woman yelled, sending a downpour on the fireplace.

The fire instantly vanished, and the witch placed both feet on the brick floor of the fireplace and struggled to crawl out. 

“Quick! Light the fire again,” Ingrid charged, throwing flour on the wet logs and lighting new dry logs to singe the witch.

As Ingrid and her parents fought back the witch and her spells for hours, Ingrid kept hoping for Yuletide’s quick return. The clock on the wall tick-tocked closer and closer to midnight when the Magic Yule Log would no longer be effective. 

“We’re about to be out of wood to burn in the fireplace!” Ingrid’s father regretted. “Then what will we do?”

“Run out of wood? We’re about to run out of matches to light the wood!” Ingrid’s mother bawled. “That’s even worse!”

Just when Ingrid wanted to give up fighting the witch, Yuletide marched in the front door with the glowing Magic Yule Log. The goat’s knees were bloody, and he hobbled through the front door as though he might collapse at any moment.

“Yuletide!” Ingrid cheered, running to him in tears, grabbing the Magic Yule Log, and throwing it into the fireplace.

Although there was already a small fire burning, she took the last match in the box and struck it to light the log. It caused a huge explosion to shoot from the chimney that stretched over the village, sending the witches into the oblivion. 

The kidnapped children riding with the witches fell from the brooms and magically landed feet-first in the snow.

“It’s Christmas again!” Ingrid celebrated, dancing in the kitchen with her parents and Yuletide in celebration.

“I almost didn’t make it,” Yuletide mused. “The snow froze the Magic Yule Log, and it was hidden on the mountaintop.”

“Did you see Father Christmas?” Ingrid hoped, cleaning Yuletide’s wounds and trying to warm him by the fire. 

“Oh, yes,” Yuletide enchanted. “I did see him on my way. He told me thank you and that he can’t right all the wrongs in the world. He’s fought the witches for years. He was so grateful for my help on Christmas Eve.”

At that, Ingrid’s family fell asleep by the fireplace with Yuletide, and Father Christmas made his visit in the snow with presents, because a goat decided that he could overcome every evil spirit at Christmas. 


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

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