I felt there was an element of procrastination to Phil’s proposal of a “Christmas special,” which gave me some qualms (he was struggling to get Chapter 20 to go where he wanted, and if he hadn’t started lobbying for a 60-chapter outline yet, he would soon). But it was an opportunity to relax and have some fun before we got back to Advancing the Epic Story of Arkerran War and Politics. And I was in a mood where I felt like some fun was what I needed.

The specific story idea you see here, however, took some settling on. Here’s my original outline proposal, which as you can see was nowhere NEAR in continuity:

E-Merl’s mocked by all the townspeople for his big nose, and unable to get his wife Fr’Nj a set of reindeer-shoes for Giving Day. But when some pollution-related smog rolls in and strands some townspeople on a hunting trip, E-Merl’s nose is the only thing that can save them, and they become more receptive to doing a deal. E-Merl goes home, having bought reindeer shoes from the hunters, to find that his wife’s sold the reindeer to commission a portrait of his handsome nose. His face has been obscured until this point, but now we see that he has sold his nose to the hunters (there was enough meat on it to last them a day) in order to buy the reindeer-shoes. IF ONLY COUPLES COMMUNICATED MORE. T and Phil pause writing this to messily embrace. There is kissing, but no tongue, so it’s not TOO gay.

Syr’Nj works in the lab on Axemas because she’s a boring secular humanist. One panel. (If nothing else, I like this because we’ve been so heavy on the Syr’Nj lately, and the next chapter, of necessity, will feature a fair amount of her too.)

Byron brings his very pregnant wife, Frigg, to an inn. Initially it looks like they can’t get a room, but after being threatened by a Frigg who’s alternating between labor pains and pregnant cravings, the innkeeper decides they can have HIS room. And then the three wise men (not-so-wise men of medieval “medicine”) show up. Byron is a trusting soul who largely believes his wife’s account that this pregnancy was the result of an evil wizard’s curse. But when the baby comes out looking like Payet Best, Byron freaks out, kills the three wise men and rushes off. Frigg is so proud of this that she tells her newborn son, “That’s your REAL father.”

Gravedust Claus goes around town giving out gifts, with the help of his 5,000 ghosts. They may be terrifying, but the results are heartwarming! (He may even fix E-Merl and Fr’Nj’s problems.) The townspeople thank him– until they realize that the price of his gifts is listening to an extended harangue about how society has to change, like Dickens crossed with Capra, only preachier. CHANGE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE IMMEDIATELY, HYPOCRITICAL HUMANS. When they’ve had enough of this, Gravedust Claus ends up crucified, muttering under his breath, “Rats.”