22 December 2009

It's Almost Christmas in the Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

Picture this scene east of the sun and west of the moon. The ground is white with snow. Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country. The rivers and lakes are frozen solid. The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air. The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns. It is almost Christmas here in the far-off Grand Duchy of Stollen, somewhere to the northeast of Frederick’s Prussia.

Stollenians bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets in the capital city of Krankenstadt, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest. The North German Gothic red brick storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frosty windows at the cheerful seasonal displays. Street vendors peddle their wares in the town square, shouting loudly above the din of shoppers, their voices forming puffs of steam in the wintry air.

The colorful, gabled merchants’ houses are warmly lit by candles in each window as year-end business is concluded in the ground floor offices. Music and song emanate from the Lutheran and Catholic cathedrals. The notes and tones coalesce, spiraling up above the old city as organists and choirs rehearse their respective parts for the coming celebration. And in the side streets, local coffee houses and taverns provide a welcome respite from the biting Baltic cold along with hot beverages to warm the palettes of many a weary patron.


Meanwhile, the Grand Duke and his trusty English manservant Hives have taken leave of Krankenstadt Palace for two weeks of Christmas good cheer and making merry at Aunt Agatha's country home, a day's journey north of the city. As they roll away from the palace entrance, the fresh snow squeaks and crunches beneath their coach wheels. The party soon passes a platoon of soldiers from the Leib (Grand Duchess of Sonja's Own) Grenadiers led by the stalwart Oberfeldwebel Klatschen, who, recognizing the grand ducal coach, shouts to his men to form up and give a salute to their monarch. And in the spirit of the season, the gruff, battle-hardened NCO throws caution and protocol to the chilled wind and waves to his passing monarch, wishing the Grand Duke the compliments of the season in a loud voice. To everyone's surprise, the Grand Duke cheerfully nods and returns the season's greeting through a coach window, bidding the marching infantry well.

Wherever in the world you find yourself this Christmastime, as you drop by the Grand Duchy of Stollen for your own cup of warm holiday cheer during the next several days or so, the jolly Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II, the fetching Grand Duchess Sonja, and young David Paul I would like to wish each and every one of you, as well as your near and dear ones, a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season. May you find oodles of Stadden, Willie, Spencer Smith, and Holger Eriksson or RSM figures in your stocking and a new Charles Grant-Phil Olley book title or two beneath your tree on Christmas Morning. Merry Christmas to one and all from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!!!

6 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

A wonderful image, sir, and I thank thee for it.

May the spirit of the Season last with you and your family for the entire year to come.


-- Jeff

Der Alte Fritz said...

If you have time, how about setting up a display of your Stollen buildings in a Christmas diorama? You could put bits of cotton on the roofs and across the ground to simulate snow. and then have a honor guard or a changing of the guard in the town square.

tradgardmastare said...

I'm with Jim on this- a winter in Stollen photo would be fantastic...
Thanks for an enjoyable post- must really get somemore coffee-back soon...
Alan

Frankfurter said...

Amen, though I'm hoping to get my hands on 15mm command packs and artillery ...
:)
A

guy said...

Hi Stokes,

Well the last day of work here in England. We have decided to drive up north this evening to reach the family as yet more snowfalls are predicted so I will be unable to check out your blog for about a week. England seems to grind to a halt with a few snowflaes and a bit of ice. How different from Switzerland where armies of workmen are deployed and everything works without fail.

Can I please thank you for all the effort you make in writing the blog and the huge amount of enjoyment it gives me. Can I also wish you and your family best wishes for Christmas. Here's hoping for lots of soldiers in everyones present pile. I did give my family enough blatent hints!

Regards,
Guy

SteveGill said...

The festive season in Stollen sounds a lot jollier than the rather stressy English version, which I'm currently trying to dodge...:-)

Have a wonderful first Christmas with the bairn and thanks for some top-notch blogging this past year.

Steve

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...