Pulling up to the hotel, Suzy was already exhausted. Thanks to a major snowstorm across the Midwest, she’d been flat out for three days. Of course, the sledding window was small and the snowfall was melting, less than 24 hours later. A sense of futility was snowballing in Suzy’s soul, big time.
Mother Nature’s email wasn’t super clear, as usual, so Suzy was relieved to see the sign in the lobby. It read, “Seasonal Reps,” with an arrow pointing to the ballroom.
“Here we go,” she thought, as she dragged her powder blue roller bag to the barebones check-in table. Suzy noticed dozens more nametags than usual. “Jesus, the Leprechauns are here?” she muttered to herself.
It was clear that Mother Nature had something big planned, given the insane number of attendees. She’d flown everyone and their imaginary nephew in for this one.
“Hey, Baby New Year. What up, Nian,” Suzy said with a nod as she passed the oddest odd couple ever, one wearing a diaper and the other with teeth like high-quality steak knives. They cordially raised their glasses of champagne as she passed.
Typically, it was open seating but this time, seats were assigned by month and grouped by season. Suzy saw 12 long tables that stretched toward the front, where Mother Nature had her own table and was already holding court. “What is this, Hogwarts?” she wondered.
Of course, The Great Pumpkin was chatting up Mother Nature, up in her face and desperate for legitimacy as usual. “Kiss-ass,” she scoffed.
Suzy scanned the room over to the right for table 12, for December, nestled between tables 11 and one. The frontline December crew hadn’t yet arrived, including her nemesis. She wondered if he’d be at table 12 or assigned to the late fall fam. “Late fall? More like late fools,” she joked to herself. Summer months had been taking more and more from October, pushing the fall months out further and further.
Then from behind her she heard a low crackling sound, like the thick ice of a frozen lake breaking. His laugh sent chills down her spine–and not in a good way.
“Well, Jack Frost, as I live and breathe,” she said, overtly feigning enthusiasm.
He was already drinking his first vodka on the rocks. “Coming in cold as usual, Suzy Snowflake” he sneered. “Honestly, I’m surprised you made it. Then again, that stormfront didn’t amount to much beyond slush, even in Minnesota. Should we start calling you Suzy Sleet?”
Suzy rolled her eyes. “We don’t all have the distinct pleasure of going around killing crops and dreams willy nilly,” she retorted.
Jack, as usual, only half paid attention. “Look–the fucking sugarplum fairies are here. Bunch of lightweights.” He took a big swig. “They have no business being anywhere near winter.” The ice clinked in his glass as he gestured toward the tulle-clad set.
“God forbid winter have any charms or enjoyment to offer,” replied Suzy, ignoring the sexist implications of his remark. “People certainly aren’t getting any of that from you.” She picked some stray fuzz off the shoulder of her white cashmere peplum sweater and let it float to the busy mish mash of hotel carpet.
“Whatever, goody two shoes,” said Jack. “Shouldn’t you be tap-tap-tapping on some kid’s windowpane?”
She laughed, hiding her annoyance, “Talk to Rosemary Clooney.” It’s not like Suzy wrote that damn song. Jack knew full well she hated it and had barely anything to do with it. He brings it up when he’s really trying to get under her skin. She wouldn’t let that happen.
A breeze swept across the ballroom. That was Mother Nature’s gentle but very real signal. Time to take their seats. To Suzy’s dismay, she discovered that she and Jack were seated right next to each other at the middle of their table.
Old Man Winter took his place at the front, of course, with Tomten by his side and a couple of elves across from them. The old boys club looked exhausted as they’d traveled in from the North Pole and Scandinavia.
Plus, Old Man Winter had been less predictable lately, skipping town when expected to stay and showing up in places like Texas. The wear and tear was beginning to show.
Suzy waved and jumped up as her favorite rep and one of her oldest friends, The Snow Queen, strode up and took her place on Suzy’s other side. They clasped hands and started to catch up as the spring and summer reps continued settling in.
Lady Midday and The May Queen performatively hugged before finally finding their spots. “Bitches in heat,” said The Snow Queen, nodding in their direction. They chuckled. Man, did Suzy love her.
Autumnal steward of barley harvests and benders, John Barleycorn was already slurring his cockney accent when he shouted, much louder than necessary, “Stop faffin’ about you twats!” We snickered. The carefree attitudes of the warmer season reps would never not chafe the cold weather crowd. Especially these days.
Finally, Mother Nature stood. The air was still and the silence, instant.
“Thank you all for coming on shorter than typical notice,” she began. “It truly warms my heart to see you all together. All four seasons, all 12 months, a full seasonal bounty indeed.”
“Ugh,” Suzy thought to herself, brow deeply furrowed. “Why do hearts always need to be ‘warmed?’”
And right on cue The Snow Queen leaned over. “Uh—implicit bias much?” she said out of the corner of her mouth. They fist bumped under the table in solidarity.
Mother Nature continued, always a striking sight with her glowing ebony skin, innately regal presentation, head held high, “I’ll get right to it. You all know why you’re here. We’re facing an urgent climate crisis.” The “t” on climate and “s’s” in crisis were so sharp they could cut glass.
“What you may not know is how we are going to combat it. The short answer? It’s going to take all of us. And I mean all of us.”
She explained, “A crisis of this magnitude calls for unprecedented measures. I’m using my executive powers to circumvent the seasonal caucus and infighting that has stalled progress for too long. It’s no longer a choice. It’s our natural and moral obligation to act.”
“No shit,” said Jack under his breath. Meanwhile, the spring and summer tables stirred. To us it was obvious. To them, this was a highly sensitive topic.
Mother Nature paused thoughtfully, gazing across the room, table to table, making intense eye contact with as many reps as possible. “We can do this! We have a plan. A plan in which each and every one of you has an essential role to play.”
She took a beat and adjusted her notes before diving into the details.
“Punxsutawney Phil, from you we need an eight-year stretch of consecutive declarations of six more weeks of winter. No letting up.”
Everyone gasped. “Eight years. Holy shit!” squealed The Snow Queen.
“Yas queen!” Suzy replied. Wide-eyed and hopeful, the two exchanged huge smiles of excitement.
“Suzy, we’re going to need you to step it up, especially in the Northeastern United States and across Siberia,” said Mother Nature with a directness that felt like a punch in the face.
Suzy’s cheeks turned from alabaster to crimson. “Step it up?” she thought. “Tell Jack Frost to step the fuck out of my way! Tell Heat Miser to step it down!” A flurry of angry thoughts clouded her mind. It took every measure of composure Suzy had to not flake out.
Across the room, she saw Heat Miser slowly turn his smug face in Suzy’s direction to taunt her. But just then, Mother Nature continued, “Heat Miser—that means we’ll need your full cooperation. We’re placing some common-sense limits on your range as of today.”
His head swiveled back and his face melted into a deep frown. Suzy felt her shoulders drop and spirit rise.
“Hell yeah,” whispered the Snow Queen.
“Screw that guy,” said Jack Frost, in a rare note of camaraderie.
“That’s right,” Mother Nature said, squelching a sea of murmurs. “This burden does not only fall on the shoulders of the fall and winter reps. Balance must be restored throughout the year. I think we all know that. Each of you must be prepared to stretch far beyond your comfort zone. It’s crunch time, legends.”
Turning again toward table 12, Mother Nature addressed someone who would really rather go without mention, ever.
“Tomten,” she said, “we know you’re really comfortable with the whole Christmas vibe, but you could be creating some spring magic as well. I’m asking you to serve as a seasonal bridge, a peace keeper. Help Blue Corn Maiden with vegetable gardens or something. Get creative.”
Already barely visible due to his small stature, Tomten sunk down in his chair, extremely uncomfortable with the attention and the idea. This is a guy whose whole identity is built on laying low.
Mother Nature turned to tables four and five, April and May. “Your work is artful as always. What we need from you now is patience. Bloom times have been creeping up and it’s throwing off the entire progression. We know you mean well, but remember–spring shines brightest after a long winter.”
Suzy saw Blue Corn Maiden nod in agreement. “She’s so damn cool,” thought Suzy. Blue Corn Maiden, of Hopi fame, was pretty much the only springtime rep who had her respect. She’d been through more than anyone, yet knew her purpose and truly served the people. Suzy saw that Blue Corn Maiden never got her due, much like herself.
In Suzy’s case, for what felt like eons, she dealt with Jack Frost dominating the entire winter precipitation game, giving no credit to her at all and, a while back, forcing her to attempt a PR campaign that backfired.
That song she’d disavowed was supposed to elevate her brand, and take her rightful share of the winter limelight from Jack, but all it did was cause people to take her even less seriously. But maybe, just maybe, “be an obnoxious jerk” would no longer be a winning strategy in this new era—for Jack Frost, Heat Miser, or anyone else.
Finally, Mother Nature turned her attention to summer. The June, July, and August reps all straightened in their chairs. Among them were flower fairies of all kinds and lightning sprites in various hues. Little Miss Sunshine sat with hands resting in her lap, appearing as innocent as can be in her yellow gingham dress, in contrast to the formidable Lady Midday, that brutal, Slavic summer demon who fancies herself a crop crusader. Heat Miser, as usual, seemed sweaty and nervous.
“You know I admire your commitment, your enthusiasm, your drive. People love you and find joy in your season’s embrace.” Everyone else was grossed out by the coddling but also on the edge of their seats at this point.
“But your strong numbers, all those record-setting temperatures… they’ve turned the balance of the seasons into a winner-take-all contest. We’ve forgotten that the seasons all share a common goal: supporting the cycle of life.
Fall, winter, and even spring shrink each year. Wide swaths of the earth are parched. Thirst and hunger are growing. As ice recedes, tides rise and disaster unfolds.
You are hurting your own bottom line as the glories of your season fade. Flowers and trees need rain. Beaches need sand. Sunny days need shade. People need relief.
I’m calling on you to scale back for the good of all—yourselves included.”
“‘Bout time,” whispered the Snow Queen, heartened by the much-needed and rather momentous call-out.
“Damn right,” said Suzy, amazed.
“This better stick or we’re screwed,” added Jack.
A bubbling energy infused the crowd. The chatter rose when, unable to raise a hand, The Great Pumpkin stood to ask a question.
“Oh gourd, now is not the time, GP,” said Suzy. “Get ready to cringe to death, everyone.” Both The Snow Queen and Jack Frost stifled their laughter.
“You know I don’t just show up for just anyone,” The Great Pumpkin began, as if that mattered. “I just want to say how great your plan is and that I will do everything pumpkinly possible to help. You’ve been an incredible leader, Mother Nature, and I want to thank you. With you as our champion, we can tackle the climate crisis once and for all!”
He turned his giant orange head to face the rest of the reps and tried to instigate a round of applause, eliciting just a smattering of awkward claps.
“Shut up!” shouted a rowdy John Barleycorn, to some laughs and some disapproving looks. This interjection served as a release, and the reps all burst back into their discussions, positive energy percolating along with uncertainty.
Everyone felt the wind pick up in the ballroom. A napkin fluttered up and snagged on The Great Pumpkin’s stem, Blue Corn Maiden’s silky hair blew back in a most glamorous way, and Peter Rabbit’s nose twitched to catch a scent carried in.
Then, all was still and quiet again. Mother Nature continued, “You know what else is at stake here? All holiday traditions, which innately depend on connection to the seasons.”
This point hit home. The elves exchanged worried glances, sugarplum fairies held hands, and a small coven of witches tapped their brooms on the floor, their way of applauding in agreement.
Somehow the energy in the ballroom had changed, infused with an aura of shared understanding. Mother Nature concluded her remarks, and servers emerged with their platters, pitchers of water, and wine bottles.
Suzy felt something like—though she’d never admit this—proverbial warmth. She looked around at all the crazy souls gathered.
She considered their collective endangerment, mind-boggling array of quirks, shared sense of vulnerability, and centuries of ups and downs, and it all caused her to soften a bit. Even toward The Great Pumpkin. Even Heat Miser and yes, Jack Frost.
He, too, seemed to have shifted.
“I really think we can do this, you know,” he said to Suzy as they ate their dinner of so-so chicken marsala, over-cooked broccoli, and rolls.
“You know what? Me too,” said Suzy.
Later that evening at the hotel bar, Suzy did something no one could have seen coming even on the clearest, crispest winter day. She performed her song. Yes, that song.
As they recognized the retro sound of the opening note, the entire audience shrieked with delight and began shouting encouragement. “Oh hell yeah!” cried an ecstatic Blue Corn Maiden.
Reps of every season rushed over to the karaoke stage and joined in as Suzy belted out the lyrics.
The Snow Queen lifted her glass of ice wine and turned to Jack Frost. “Here’s to anything being possible, after all.”
“…If you want to make a snowman
I’ll help you make one, one, two, three
If you want to take a sleigh ride
Whee! The ride’s on me
Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Look at her tumblin’ down
Bringing joy to ev’ry girl and boy
Suzy’s come to town…”
Note: All 12 stories can be found here. Happy holidays, however and whatever you celebrate!