Stollenians bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets in the capital city of
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!!!