Today’s the day! Today is Pond-mas!
The Pond looks festive today. Every single plant and rock in the Pond have been decorated with tinsel and magical sparkling lights. You can hear the faint sound of jingling bells and Bao the corgi howling along to a song.
By the water, Xiaolong is jumping up and down, calling you to come over. The Pond friends are crowded around in a tight circle by the water. When all of them see you – Gen, Varian, Cuddle, and Sprout – they join Xiaolong in waving you over as well. They look so excited to see you!
“We decided to do something a little different for Pond-mas this year,” explains Varian. “I thought it would be nice if, instead of giving gifts to each other, that we would write something nice about each other or a happy memory from this year on a piece of colourful paper.”
Varian shows you a rectangular red piece of paper. “And with all our nice messages, we would create a paper chain of all of our kind and happy thoughts.”
“And!” interjects Xiaolong, her arms overflowing with bags of stationery. “We can write as many nice messages as we like. So we can make a chain so long that it can wrap around the Pond three times!”
Xiaolong starts handing out the slips of paper, brightly coloured markers, and sparkly gel pens.
“Oh no!” exclaims Xiaolong. “I need more markers! Friend!” Xiaolong hops over to you, “Can you collect everyone’s pieces of paper? I’ll be right back, I forgot to get a marker for the both of us! I’ll get a marker and then we can both write stuff, okay?”
As Xiaolong darts away, the Pond friends get to writing. One by one, they slowly finish writing their nice messages to you. You sneak a glance at everyone’s messages, and they warm your heart.
This message has leaves decorated all over the piece of paper: “Gen’s garden looks beautiful this year! I am so proud of him. Love, Sprout”
This message has a simple drawings at each corner of the paper: “i am happy that cuddle joined the pond because she makes the best soup and xiaolong can relax a little more with her help now – gen 🐢“
While this doesn’t have any drawings, but the handwriting is neat and clean: “I am so grateful for all the work that Sprout does! I love talking to them and having tea at their tree stump house. Varian 🐸“
And this message has hearts all over the paper: “I love all of Varian’s costumes but I also love that Varian can be their best self. ❤❤❤ Cuddle”
The Pond friends work in companionable silence, writing so many messages that you have to hold onto the messages with two hands. Even when Xiaolong returns, she quietly hands you a marker (and you decide to wait a little while until they are all done before you write your message) and joins the others by scribbling her own messages.
One by one, the Pond friends finish writing. Varian hops up and, with an enchantment, conjures some hot chocolate for everyone.
“Okay friends!” says Xiaolong. “Let’s take what we have written from our friend, and let’s start putting our messages together in a chain!” She distributes equal amounts of the paper to each of the friends, and then turns to you. “Friend, if you want to write something, you can! And then you’ll be the last ones to add to the chain. Almost like you are keeping us together!”
You write your happy message down while the Pond friends get to sticking the paper together and connecting the links together. By the time you have written three, the Pond friends have created a long paper chain that snakes along Gen’s shell, has wrapped itself around Varian’s round belly, and is tangled in Cuddle’s tail! The Pond friends all laugh, having fun and feeling a little silly.
Xiaolong holds up the two ends of their long paper chain up to you. “Thank you friend, for spending Pond-mas with us,” she says with a big, big smile. “Whenever you visit us, it always makes us really happy, but it is even more special when you get create memories with us.”
You smile; you feel the warmth of their love and acceptance. You realise that you will always belong here at the Pond with your friends. You take your pieces of paper with your messages, wrap it around the two ends of the chain, and close it, linking all of your love together.
A merry Pond-mas from all of us at the Pond, my dear friend.
This Pond-mas story is pretty different to last year’s Pond-mas post and is a reflection of what I have done (or, not done) during this year’s holiday season. For as long as I can remember, gift-giving was at the center of the end of the year. It was wonderful as a child, but as I started to grow up, gift-giving became less of a happy thing and more of a stressful thing where we scrambled to buy each other presents (that most of us didn’t really need). While I love that other people still enjoy and love the tradition of giving gifts, I no longer did.
This year, my family and I decided not to buy anything for each other. Instead, we promised that we would spend the day with each other, be happy, and enjoy each other’s company instead.
This year’s Pond-mas is a reflection of that: at the heart of Pond-mas and at the heart of The Quiet Pond and everything that I do with this blog, is unconditional love, feeling included and loved and accepted no matter who you are, and appreciating friendship.
With the end of the year coming up (and also my birthday!), The Quiet Pond will take a short break (while I also work on Pondathon, my new readathon coming next year in mid-January) and all posts will resume in the New Year.
Until then, have a safe and wonderful end of year, friends. Sending all my love to you. 💛