A Holiday Tale of Woe
a short play in three parts, intended as a cautionary tale.
Act 1: Triumph!
Enter the Knitter. In her hands, an exquisite piece of work and craftsmanship made of wool. Her face is tired, but triumphant: it has been a long several weeks of work, but through tears, cursing, and perseverance at many a Project Class at Wabi Sabi, she has made it! In the corner of the room, lit by the warm festive glow of the fireplace, is a tree, newly hewn and glorious in festive splendor.
Knitter: Oh Christmas tree, how lovely art thy branches! Behold! I have knit thee this fine rainment, which shall guard my fine carpet from the sappy tears of joy and needles thou dost shed so much upon them through this holiday time!
[ The knitter, it must be noted, both loved the holidays and had the curious habit of slipping into old time-y speech at times of emotional excitement. ]
And with these words, did the Knitter lay the skirt to the base of the tree, and lo, it was a thing of beauty.
A Visitor: My my, the quality of your work is astounding!
Knitter: [demuring] Oh, stop!
Another Visitor: It really is! You must have been so determined and worked so hard!
Knitter: [coyly] It did take a bit of work, but I'm not really that good of a knitter, really.
A Family Member Who Has Been Through This Act of the Play Several Times and Is Haplessly Trying to Move Things On: So, shall we have lunch?
Knitter: [speaking over the family member a bit insistently] The cables, really, were the tricky bit, but after a bit of practice, I got it right! It does have a mistake right here, where they cross left instead of right, but I don't think it's really visible unless you look closely...
Family Member: [under his breath] Which of course you do.
Another Family Member: [overhearing] Every. single. time.
Knitter quells the potential family uprising with a stern look. Both family members quiet, aware that the gift of hand-knitted socks may depend on the good favour of the knitter.
Act 2: Travesty!
The scene: same room, still lit by the glow of the fireplace. The tree still stands tall, now decorated with many a festive item, and the skirt beneath it no less a work of art, if slightly more worn looking. However....
Knitter: O vexation! I cannot help but note that my fine work hast been stained by the dripping of sap and the falling of needles! Let me remove it and clean it, that my work might soon shine, and compliments again fall upon my head!
The Knitter then carefully removes the skirt, gently dabbing at the sap and attempting to shake the needles from the Work. Some exclamations of distress, as many remain affixed to, and even embedded in, the delicate stitchwork as the Knitter attempts to shake it off into the trash bin. With a look of grim determination, the Knitter takes the work offstage, where running water and steadily more frustrated grumbling can be heard:
Knitter: The..the sap! It doesn't want to wash out, water and soap seem to just slide off it, and I don't dare scrub hard at it for fear of damaging the stitching. Darn it to heck, if anything, it looks worse now than it did under the tree.
More mutterings, and perhaps stronger language can be heard, until, at last, with a chorus of the heavens:
Knitter: Thank sheep, it's SUPERWASH!
The music shifts to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" as the scene speechlessly shifts to the laundry room. The Knitter is happily stuffing the Work into the washing machine, carefully adding just the right amount of Soak, and setting it to a delicate wash. A ballet follows, of the knitter doing a joyous dance of victory around the washing machine, as the song finishes at the same time as the machine beeps to mark the finish.
Silence, as the Knitter opens the machine, reaching in to take the Work out. Slowly, a discordant melody creeps in as the Knitter's sleeve sticks to the inside of the machine. The music becomes steadily louder, as it becomes evident that a fine coat of sap, heated by the water, now rings her washing machine.
As the discordant music continues to grow in prominence, the Knitter (with increasing desperation and, it must be admitted, increasing denial) carefully blocks the work, each pin inserted echoed by a new discord in the music. As more of the work is blocked, it becomes evident to the audience that the pine needles have almost entirely felted into the work, and need to be removed, one-by-one, by hand. The fade to black is on the Knitter, on her knees, scrubbing at the inside of the machine with, what seems, increasing futility.
Act 3: One Week Later
Fade in: The same holiday scene as before, but the tree is more a pole with one or two boughs, the rest have been crudely hacked away. The Work, in a much recovered state sits beneath this once-tree, looking pristine once again.
The Knitter, looking frazzled and somewhat mad in an ill-fitting holiday sweater, sits in a rocking chair by the fire, a santa mug of wine clenched in her shaking hands. Her knitting is beside her, but the fine layer of dust suggests that it has not been touched in some time. Another object rests near the tree, a saw of some sort. Her gaze is fixed on the tree, as if daring it.
A few needles fall from one of the remaining boughs. The silence is broken by a resolute growl of rage as the knitter picks up the hacksaw beside her chair, and storms toward the tree once more.
Fade to black.