“The First Winterfest”

Written by Samantha, Illustrated by Robin

Imagine how it was...

A drawing of Father looking down at a little baby Vincent in his crib.before we had our own chambers...

before we had a Council to guide us...

before we had a pipe code....

Father had no gray hair and his beard was brown.

Mary had no wrinkles and her hair wasn’t grey.

Winslow was younger than you.    

Vincent was just a baby.        

And everyone was scared.

There had been a bad fight and some of the adults had left, taking most of the community’s supplies with them in the dead of night.

Those who stayed were cold and miserable and hungry. Many wondered aloud if they should try to live again on the streets Above.   

Those few Topsiders who were Helpers weren’t in much better condition. Life was hard for everyone.

A table with food and candles for Winterfest.Then Lou got a free turkey from his church and decided to share it with those Below.    
Sebastien found a bag of potatoes that he said fell off a truck and brought it down.                  

Old Sam was paid for shoveling snow for a store Above with a pumpkin pie and thought Mary might like a slice.
A Tunnel dweller whose name nobody ever knew found some candles in the trash outside a theater, left over from a closed show. They were all dipped in orange, yellow and white. He believed they just might cheer Father up. 

A big fireplace with a fireAs the day progressed, everyone contributed something for a meal, those who lived here Below and those who Helped from Above.  The old fireplace was used to cook what needed cooking, its warmth filling the Great Hall.

While the food cooked, Sebastien entertained everyone with magic tricks. Lou gave the kids haircuts. Father told stories to the children. Pascal Senior strummed an old guitar he’d found and fixed. Soon others joined him in singing songs even older than the guitar. Everyone relaxed and actually had fun together. It made them all feel normal again.

Then they gathered together at a makeshift table set up in the center of the Great Hall. The table was circled with patched, mismatched chairs. They didn’t notice the shabby furniture at all. They were gazing in astonishment at the meal - a feast, an unimaginable feast! But if each had hoarded what he’d gotten, nobody would have had that feast, only a meal alone - no music, no conversation, no fun, no happiness.

What they discovered at that first Winterfest was a great feeling! It felt like . . . a family. It was a feeling they all wanted to keep in their hearts.

This is how you make me feel - like family. That’s what Winterfest celebrates - you, me . . . us.

A drawing of a Winterfest candle with the words "me" in the white part, "you" in the yellow, and "family" in the orange.



Return to the Stories and Poems Index