I’ll let you sort out the moral for yourselves. (Bandit’s story-within-the-story is not quite done, but you can probably see where it’s going.)

For me personally, this story has an extra layer of uncomfortable irony. As I discussed in my memoir Shortbox, shortly after I finished writing the story and just after this page went live, I ended up ruining (or at least severely compromising) the Christmas experience for my roommate (though my goddaughter got to enjoy it, at least). I thought she’d wanted to sleep in, given her exhaustion: I should have remembered what Rachel said in the first few panels of this very story. It was a misunderstanding, and it’s more than seven years behind us now, but it still hurts to think about that one.

Phil and I had a little disagreement about end rhymes that were solidly in the middle of phrases, like “such” in panel 2 and “join” in panel 4. I stuck to my guns on that one; I think they add to the whimsical tone, which we had to maintain throughout even as the meaning got sadder.