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16. Many Blessings

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Once upon a time, there lived a king and a queen who said every day, "Oh, if only we had a child!" but they never received one, for unfortunately, they didn't have any friends who could tell them how sex works.

Christmas approached, and all the people of the kingdom went out into the white snow to decorate trees with bright lights and sing and laugh with their children. The king, seeing this, grew especially sad. But, pushing aside his despair, he spoke to the queen, "We have wanted a child for so long. Why does it need to be one that is born to us? There are so many hungry and lonely children in the world. Could we not take one of them into our palace and raise him as our son and heir?"

"A wonderful idea, darling!" said the queen. "As long as we get a daughter, too."

So they took out the royal sledge, journeyed to the local orphanage and knocked at the door. A kind nun opened the door, but when the king and queen explained what was their hearts' desire, she shook her head sorrowfully.

"Sorry. Yesterday we would have been able to help you, but right now we're completely out of children."

"Out of children?" the queen demanded. "How can an orphanage be out of children?"

"Well, some poor old wicked witches came by this morning, asking for food, and we couldn't very well turn them away now, could we? It is Christmas, after all."

"No. No, of course you couldn't. Your charitable spirit is admirable."

Thus, the king and queen had to say farewell to the nuns and leave the orphanage without a child. Next, they went to the wicked witches to see if they had any leftovers for them.

"We do have an arm," the oldest witch said through a crack in the gingerbread door. "And...Circe, is that a big toe or a finger?"

"Neither will do, I'm afraid," said the king. "We would like a whole child."

"Well, well, you are choosy, aren't you? Try the ogres next door."

But the ogres, too, had already eaten up all the children in the house, including their own, which is a little mishap that frequently happens to ogres. So the king and queen had no choice but to return across icy roads and past many merry Christmas trees back to the palace, their hopes crushed.

"Maybe we should have taken the bits the witch offered us. We could sew a child together," the queen suggested.

"Oh, that never works," the king sighed. "My cousin who lives over at castle Frankenstein tried that once and...well, let's just say his boy wasn't exactly top of the class."

"But then what should we do?"

The king shook his head in desperation. "I do not know, darling. Oh, if only a miracle would happen!"

It just so happened that right at this moment, three angels were passing the castle on their way to spend Christmas sitting miniaturized on top of Christmas trees—angels' favorite way to relax over the holiday season. They heard the king's and queen's lament, stopped beside the castle and stuck their heads in through the window.



"There's no need to shout, madam."

"We're on the third floor! How can you stick your head in through the window on the bloody third floor?"

"With wings. I'm an angel."

The queen fainted. The three angels gazed down and her with concern.

"Did I say something wrong?" Angel One enquired.

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