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Picturing a World

Sphere 1951

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, what fun! Father Christmas calling down the reindeer in a more natural version of his ice palace. This is obviously not the North Pole; but, after all, why not imagine his workshop somewhere in the North Woods? Or take the picture literally and see it as the backdrop for a theatrical production. I'm devouring it like a bon-bon, but if we play this year's story-generating game, there are already three possibilities: a story about Santa Claus, a story about a staged show, a story about a 1951 magazine.

  1. If the story is about a gift-delivering elf, is he Father Christmas or Santa Claus? Might Mrs. Claus have a route of her own? If the North Woods setting is true, does it now experience a snow-free season? If so, what effect does that have on the toy-making elves or the reindeer who pull the sleigh when called?

  2. If the production dramatizes a well-known Christmas story, which one? Is it a new play? Why set it in the North Woods? Or is it a local pageant, a pantomime, a children's home puppet show, or, horrors, somebody's fundraising Zoom effort? Who painted the backdrop? How much would yours be like Baynes's picture? How many players are involved? Who is the harassed producer or state manager (there has to be somebody harassed, doesn't there?)

  3. If the story is about the magazine itself, is it set in 1951 among characters who buy the issue new? Is it set much later when somebody finds a copy at a flea market and either does or does not recognize Pauline Baynes as the illustrator of the Narnia books? Is it a pricey copy that some devoted Person A tracks down as a gift for a beloved Person B? If so, are they a happy couple or is the gift-giver doomed to yet one more disappointment? NB: In 2018, a copy sold for £400.

Take any of the possibilities above, or better yet one of your own, and jot down at least five things about the setting, the characters, and either the start or the end of the story that must (or might) be true. Give yourself ten minutes. Now write a first line, or first paragraph or keep on going if it amuses you as a stay-at-home Christmas activity!

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