SnT Christmas 2010

(Reposted from LFE; this was a side story bonus update for the holiday)

“Merry Christmas!”

“Nnn!  Whahuh?”  Jrge’lla flailed slightly as the abrupt greeting shattered her sleep.  “Mmm, Mother, whatever are you talking about?”

“It’s Christmas, a holiday that I find to be worth celebrating,” Tiki Tavi replied, plopping down next to her daughter, on the edge of the nest.  “I brought you a special gift!”

“What?  A gift!  Mother, you shouldn’t–”

“Tut, tut, my dear.  No arguments.  The gift is here, and that’s all there is to it.  Well, except that you need to open it, of course.”  Her color-extremities swirled merrily.

Jrge’lla sighed and looked at the object Tiki Tavi had handed her.  Brightly wrapped in some kind of thin ‘fabbing, it appeared to be a box about 5 by 5 by 10 SSUMcD.  Hesitantly, glancing at the K’Tomal for confirmation, she found a join in the wrapping and slid her claw between the layers.  They tore easily, but Jrge’lla still wasn’t sure how to get the box out of the–

“It’s permissible to tear the paper, dear.  Even encouraged.”

Sighing again, Jrge’lla ripped the “paper” to reveal a handsome wooden box.  Unembellished save for its own grain patterns, its polished surface reflected the light in the sleeping chamber.  “It’s lovely, Mother!”

“Are you not going to open it?” Tiki Tavi replied mischievously.

Nonplussed, Jrge’lla looked at it again.  Such a well-made box was surely gift enough!  After a moment, she located the thin seam indicating the lid and pried it gently off.  Inside, it was lined with a piled fabric of deep purple hue; the fuzzy fibers caught the light enticingly.  On that fabric lay a slender chain of inter-locked rings made of a yellow metal that might be auroniam.  Awed, Jrge’lla lifted the chain with one claw; as it played out its length, she realized that it was linked together and would form an incredible head cover.

“Mother,” she breathed.

Tiki Tavi radiated pleasure.  “I’m glad you like it, Daughter.  Now when there are special, formal events, you will have appropriate attire!”

“But–  But– Mother!  I– This–”

“Shh.  I gave it to you because I wanted to; you owe me nothing but the gratitude you have already expressed.  And don’t fret; it hardly cost me anything.  I was able to barter for it, and no, I’m not going to tell you what.”

“But … why, Mother?  What is Christmas, and why does it necessitate lavish gifts?”  Jrge’lla sat, stunned.  Tiki Tavi smiled as she leaned over to arrange the chain on Jrge’lla’s head.

“There; it looks lovely.  Christmas is a holiday, a holy day, that remembers the best gift ever given to anyone, indeed, to everyone.

“But before I detail that, let me triangulate a reference for you.  First point: Have you ever committed a wrong doing of either legal, moral, or ethical sort, by either deliberate action or willful inaction?  This can be anything from telling a lie to stealing to murder, or any other such act.”

“Mmm–”  Jrge’lla hesitated, not certain where this was going.  “Ah, yes?”

“Second point: is there a consequence for having committed a legal, moral, or ethical offense, in either Mutual or Yerbran terms?”

“Ye-e-esss.  There are varying consequences, depending on the type of offense committed.”

“Third point: does committing the infraction warrant the receipt of those consequences?”

“Mmm.  Yes.”  Dread filled Jrge’lla’s hearts.

Tiki Tavi looked soberly at her.  “So what does that give you?”

Jrge’lla had no trouble computing the area of that equation, though she wondered greatly at its relevance to a festival.  “It means that I, or anyone else, for that matter, who has committed a crime, no matter how small, is deserving of some kind of punishment for it.”

“Indeed.  Now, I don’t talk about this often because I know that it is difficult to understand, but I want you to listen until I finish.  We K’Tomals, because we have Thought, know what is true when it is presented to us.  We cannot pluck facts from nowhere, but when we hear, see, or think something, we know if it is true or not.  And it is true that there is a Being that is generally called God.

“God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  Therefore, God’s rules are the rules the universe operates by.  To break God’s rules, God’s laws, makes one worthy of the punishment specified for that infraction.  Just as you have deduced that breaking a law in the Mutuality or a particular Domain deserves the related punishment, so too does breaking God’s law in His Domain warrant punishment.

“You see, everything good comes from God.  Everything bad is the result of people corrupting the good things.  The punishment for corrupting the good things is to lose access to those good things.  Commit a crime in the Mutuality, and you are fined or jailed or otherwise denied the things you wanted.  By choosing to ignore the laws of the Domain, you by default choose the consequences.  So, too, with God’s laws.  Does that make sense?”

“It’s … rather simplistic, but yes, I think it makes sense.  So which laws of God’s do we break?”

“Why, Daughter; if the Mutuality objects to perjury or theft, why do you think God would not object to those, as well?”

“What?  Even a ‘white’ lie, like with those good manners you so detest?”  Jrge’lla sat fully upright, the chain swinging gently around the base of her head.

“A lie is a lie, dear.  There is no relative scale to it.”  Tiki Tavi spoke without inflection.

“And what ‘punishment’ can there be for such a non-relative thing?”

“The same as for any infraction: if you do not wish to abide by God’s laws, then you do not participate in God’s riches.  The punishment is expulsion from His Domain.”

Jrge’lla couldn’t hold back a tail-twitch.  “And what possible relevance can this depressing philosophy have to this ‘Christmas’ you seemed so eager for?”

“Ah, that is the exciting part!  Christmas is an annual reminder of God’s gift to us.  His offer to deflect our punishment and allow us to remain in His Domain.”

“Deflect?  How does one deflect a conviction or legal sentence?”

“By putting it on another, of course.”

“… What?”

“Well, surely you’ve heard of incidences where someone other than the criminal decided to step in and take the blame for a crime?”

“Mmm, well, not very often, but sometimes it happens.  Someone might fall in order to allow another to keep her place, if there were enough reason.”

“Indeed.  In this case, in the case against each and every one of us, Someone stepped in to take the fall for us.  Christmas is the celebration of His birth, of His entrance into the courtroom, if you will.”

“So … let me sort this out.  God made the universe and established the rules for it.  We, all of us, have at one point or another, in one way or another, broken at least one of those laws.  As law-breakers, we deserve a sentence, which sounds like some kind of exile of the most extreme kind.  But someone stepped up and took our judgment and sentence for us, so we’re not punished.  And to remember this sentient’s birth, you give lavish gifts to others?”

“That’s mostly correct, Daughter.  But one needn’t give lavish gifts, or even give gifts at all.  That is simply the most common way.  I gave you this gift because I wanted to, because I love you.  Any gift with love and affection behind it is suitable, regardless of fungible value.”

Jrge’lla touched the chain tentatively; she could just see it lying against her scales at the edge of her vision.  “Mother, who in their right mind would step up for everyone in the whole universe?”

Tiki Tavi glowed with pleasure.  “Well, my dear, that is an interesting tale, indeed.  It began a long time ago, in a tiny village quite far from any major metropolitan area …”

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