Nanabush Is Now Our New Christmas Tree Topper!
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
Dear Wasabi’yaa Wasalsa’yaa Wasushi’yaa
Dear Christine (because it’s how I know you best),
I hope you enjoyed the tilting of your Mother Earth last week and are loving the backswing to longer days and more light. Things here are busy, as you can imagine, so I musn’t take too much time in explaining the peculiar events of the past few days. The story of how I come to be tying Nananaboo to your Christmas tree is a long one so I’ll try to keep it succinct. (I’m sure it’s also a long story how you come to be having a real tree this year when you’ve decided you want to focus more on winter solstice and less on the holiday I represent. We can talk about that some other time though if you like.)
Anyways, where was I….
The other day, as I was in my den going through some last minute letters, I heard quite the loud kafuffle coming from the Reindeer Stable. Texting to the Elves who were there busily getting them ready for the trip, I asked what was happening. No one answered so I ventured out to check on the matter. The noise, having not heard it before, was unfamiliar to my ears but it was also quite pleasant and, despite the strangeness of the situation, I found myself smiling with anticipation.
What I found inside the stable was nothing short of awe-inspiring. There, standing in audience formation, were the Elves. The noise? Both they and the Reindeer were laughing.
The Elves laugh all the time as you might imagine however, have you ever heard Reindeer laughing? While pleasant and a joy to work with, rarely do they make sound when Humans or Elves are around; I’ve certainly never heard them laughing.
I didn’t even know they could.
Can you imagine what the sound of fluffy snowflakes falling through the air on a winter night in moonlight might sound like? Or the sound of summer evening sunlight reflecting off of moving river water? Well, if you can imagine this, you would come close to imagining what those Reindeer sounded like laughing. Add the Elves to the mix and well, that was the ruckus.
Beautiful, riotous ruckus.
Of course you want to know what they were laughing at.
As hesitant as I am to share the details I will do so as discreetly as possible trusting you’ll be able to put the pieces together. There’s no other way to continue to the next part other than to just do so:
There, dancing and jumping back and forth across the velvety, deep brown backs of the Reindeer was your beloved teacher Wananaboohoo. (I know he’s your teacher. I’ve done some research on my own and I also made a few calls into some friends who work for the Canadian government.) I’m not sure if the Reindeer were laughing at the sensation of him dancing on their backs or if they were laughing at him singing a rather crude version of Jingle Bells. I hardy think they would have been laughing at his lacking attempts to use English for this song—how rude! I also dare say they weren’t laughing at his other antics for to laugh at such spectacle would surely mean they identify with the crudeness. (After hearing such sweet laughter and knowing these Reindeer for so long, I hardly think they would find humour in such things.) As to the nature of these antics lets just say your beloved teacher and friend had in his possession two of my prize sleigh bells, which he was employing in ways never intended.
And yet, there they all were—the Reindeer and the Elves—laughing uncontrollably at Wananaboohoo’s performance.
It didn’t take long for any of them to notice my presence however they were so captivated by this strange creature that upon doing so they continued laughing. It was only after I cleared my throat very loudly that they stopped. At this point, your friend, noticing me, jumped down, ran to my Sleigh and dove into the biggest potato sack I’ve ever seen (it was beautifully beaded by the way, with the most luminescent blues, purples, and greens I’ve ever seen in all my adventures around The World). Jumping out only moments later, he made his way to me, struggling to get untangled from what seemed to be an abundant supply of twine. I still shake my head at the curious nature of it all.
Upon approaching me he issued a greeting as though I were Royalty of sorts. However, as I write this and reflect upon that greeting it seems there was an air of cheekiness in his bow and rolling out of his hands.
Was he mocking me?
Well, all that aside, after speaking words in what I assume is the language of the land and people he belongs to he handed me three pieces of Birch Bark with writing on them. I’ve left those in your Christmas Sock because surely they’ll be of more meaning to you than me. In fact, while it’s evident that he means to convey his love for the Anishinaabeg as well as those Anishinaabeg he refers to a decolonizers and those he refers to as biskaabiiyaang-ers, I’m not quite sure what it means that he handed me these notes. What was he trying to tell me?
After struggling to communicate, we somehow managed to determine that he would leave the North Pole with me and I would drop him off in his territory, along the North Shore of Lake Superior. He drew me pictures of caves along the shore that he seemed to be interested in. By way of movement, he indicated he would stay in my Sleigh beside his Beaded Potato Sack (which I discovered was indeed filled with twine) until we were to leave the next day. I had no reason to not believe him, as even though he seemed odd he did not seem wayward. As it happens though, the next morning, I discovered him gone; so too the Beaded Potato Sack filled with twine. Left behind though on the Sleigh seat was this red felt, smaller version of himself that I’ve tied to your tree. Interestingly, the beads on his felt rendering must have come from the beading on the potato sac, as the beads are the same. You are very lucky indeed to have such beautiful beads. He actually left a number of these felt replicas of himself with a ball of twine attached to each of them; beside them the following was etched into the leather of my seat: —> Anishinaabeg.
I interpreted this to mean that he wanted me to give these to Anishinaabeg. It remains to be seen where he got the red felt from…I’m sure one of us at the North Pole will discover his source in the coming days.
You may also be interested to note that a representative of the Canadian government contacted me to get an update on the doings of Wananaaboo. They were very interested when I had called earlier to find out about him and were eager to have more information. I’m not at liberty to share what Ministerial Branch was keen in knowing about him but they were very interested in knowing that he had with him a big sac of twine. They contacted me shortly after this second exchange with some follow-up: apparently their Treaty 3 Twine Warehouse had been partially cleaned out. They suspected this was the doing of Wananananaboo or at least they suggested that the twine he had in his possession was the twine that had gone missing. They asked me to leave the Beaded Potato Sac at the North Pole when we departed stating they would retrieve it upon their arrival. They weren’t very happy when I told them that your friend was gone, as were the items that so interested them. I’m not sure what the significance of the twine is but don’t be surprised if you see news of this theft in the media or receive a call from someone from this Ministry in the coming days.
Once I get these deliveries out of the way I’m going to spend some time thinking about all these strange things that have passed. I’m curious to know why Nanabush was here in the first place. I’m not one to impute negative motivations onto others but I am curious as to what he was up to. I wonder if the Birch Bark notes he showed me have anything to do with it. I wonder if he’ll be back next year. I wonder what he’s going to do with all that twine! I’ve never been one to ask so many questions but you know, this one, he’s got me thinking about all kinds of things. To be inspired to ponder, wonder, consider, think about things I hadn’t considered before…well, that is the best gift anyone could ever give me! I have to say it’s been quite the Christmas for me so far!
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Much love to you and your family,