“The Holly and the Ivy is thought to have Pagan origins and could therefore date back over 1000 years. It is most unusual for a carol like the Holly and the Ivy to have survived over the years especially during the stern protestant period of the 17th century. The Holly and the Ivy have always been taken indoors during the winter the hope being that the occupants would survive difficult conditions just like the hardy Holly and the Ivy. The colours of the Holly and Ivy, green and red are traditionally associated with Christmas.” – carols.org.uk*
Everyone knows how I feel about shorts. I love them, but there is a method to writing successful ones and many these days miss their mark. This delightful story by Selah Janel is not one of them. Already well known for her contribution with other shorts, including Mooner‘ and ‘The Other Man‘, she is established with her quality of writing, her flair for the fantastical and her flavor of whimsical and humorous. Being able to “wrap” it up and present a tale in a short is a talent this author has down pat.
Holly and Ivy is no exception to this established talent in Miss Janel. She has gifted us all with a delightful holiday read. Many of us feel a sense of loss during the holidays. We try to stem our despair and dread by recreating the joy we had as children by continuing traditions from our childhood, or going home for a visit, unearthing old and treasured ornaments or hiding in the dark with a bottle of whiskey and a handful of crushed mistletoe, but I digress. Personally I cannot stand the holidays, I love the colors, I love the songs, I love losing myself in other people’s joy, it is how I get through them. Which is why I adore stories like this. It was not sticky sweet, it has a fae in it, brings my religion into the fray with fantasy and traditional contemporary story devices. It turned out to be a lovely way to spend moment with my cocoa infused double espresso, swirling it with a candy cane and humming the carol above, which was one our family had on one of those worn out cassette tapes we had to dust off my brothers old boom box to listen listen to and I am assume my parents still do. My only wish was it was longer. I think it would make a great novella instead of short or actually this was a hair over (11.5K words) it would technically be a novelette.
As I stated in the cover reveal for this short story, that is not a pear in the tree! We have the subtle (well not to subtle for this witch) blending of the pagan symbols of holly and ivy & the “Christmas” tree, facts on dryads, (Selah did her research well from the Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were), and the whipping it all up in a story of how one gets back on their feet and is able to trust her heart again while still learning the message of loss.