“It’s the Win’er’s Solice today,” Bert Osburned said. “I think. Isn’t it?” He pulled his heavy brows down over his little eyes, a serious frown, which is about the way he made all his proclamations. He wore a wide brim hat and scuffed boots and had been a history teacher at the high school. Since leaving teaching and taking up retiring, he had let what hair he had left grow and it hung in straggles past his ears and down his back. His hat hid what hair he didn’t have.
“If you say so,” Mike said. He raised an eyebrow. His John Deere cap was on the table beside his coffee. When he was younger he had a butch cut, but that had turned bald. He was wearing his slippers because as he was leaving home that morning he had thought “The hell with it, I got something on my feet, and my boots are too shitty for town life.”
The two of them were having coffee and breakfast at the LunchMart. They had graduated from high school together about forty years ago. Bert went to State and was pretty verbose in his knowledge-ability. He got a lot of his information from pulpits, social media, and TV news. Mike was a rancher who watched the snow on the mountains to know if there was enough water for the summer. He also got a lot of information from gossip and TV news, but he had avoided pulpits for the last few years.
“I am sure it’s today,” Bert said, “It’s either the on twentieth, which was yesterday, or the twenty-first, which is as we speak.”
“I thought that was on the twenty-fifth?” Around Bert, he had always found himself pinching himself and sucking his lips to keep from laughing when Bert got started.
“No. That’s Christmas. It’s Christian. Solace is a pagan thing.”
“Oh,” Mike said. “Well, I get a lot of it on Christmas—“Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “Onward Christian Soldiers,” that sort of thing. Big Solacing with those.” He concentrated on forking in some biscuits and gravy and ham.
“That’s Christmas music, which is why you get it then,” Bert said. I’m talking about the “Solace,” you know “the Solace,” when the pagans kill somebody and put them up on a tree and eat them and drink their blood.”
“I don’t think they kill anybody. I am sort of a pagan and I’ve never killed anybody. It wouldn’t give me any solace.”
“It’s just a figure of speech. They don’t really kill anybody, “per say,” or eat blood or anything. It’s symbolic. They wander around in the woods and then have turkey and potatoes and cider and beer and pretend it’s somebody. They put dolls on a tree. They do it on the Solace.”
“Well, like I said, I am paganish, and I eat my turkey and potatoes on Thanksgiving at my dining room table. I even have a little cider, but it’s not about killing anybody, and it’s a turkey not a person. Sometimes I have turkey on Christmas too.”
“Well, that shows what you know about it,” Bert said. “Pagans go year to year and then celebrate making it for another one on the Win’er’s Solace. Christians are about afinity—about forever and ever, amen. Not just making it through the year.”
“If you say so, Bertie, Ole Boy,” Mike said. He sipped his coffee to hide his grin.