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The next morning, Blondhilda was up before Stanley Chester Brown. He found her in the kitchen of their great home, sitting at the carved oak table, framed by the arch of the rustic Italian-esque kitchen hearth.
"What are you doing?" Stanley cried.
The table was bedecked with pies, cakes and cookies of every description, stollen, fruitcake and plum pudding as well as a country ham, and Blondhilda's appearance was vastly altered. The character of her great beauty, once that of a powerful warrior, had changed to a beauty of extreme softness and bounty. Overnight she had gained over one hundred pounds of luxuriant flesh.
"What are you doing?" Stanley repeated.
Blondhilda looked up, startled. Then she rose from her chair (discreetly resting her hand on the table to help herself) and embraced Stanley.
Pleased and proud, she answered him. "I'm getting ready for the great festival of Happy Holidays!"
Stanley stepped back, highly confused, for the goddess was wearing a red bodysuit, red plastic horns on her head, and carried a pitchfork.
"Why?" he cried, staring at what appeared to be a functional red tail peeking out from under the back of her skirt.
"When I was at the mall, my dear Stanley, I learned about Happy Holidays from the stores and from the media images on the television. I wear this garb to honor Old Nick, also known as Satan, who is worshipped during the Holiday That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Stanley Chester Brown considered this for a long minute. Finally he said, "Blondhilda, could you mean Saint Nick rather than Old Nick and Santa rather than Satan?"
"Probably," she replied merrily.
"So you were Christmas shopping yesterday?"
"And you learned about Christmas from the stores at the mall and from television?"
"Yes," she said, shifting uncomfortably at his repeated use of the term "Christmas".
"Well," Stanley said, "that explains why we needed a panel truck to bring your purchases home yesterday. And it explains why we're having this episode in August...And it explains why you seem to think 'Christmas' is a dirty word. It's not, you know."
"But I learned from the television that it is, Stanley. If you wish people 'Merry Christmas' they have a right to be offended because it's wrong to give someone a friendly greeting or wish them joy unless you do it in exactly the right way. If you don't, they get angry. That's called 'tolerance'!"
"Blondhilda, people don't really think that way. 'Merry Christmas' doesn't really offend anyone."
"Yes, Stanley, if you say so." She sat down heavily, took a sip of eggnog and served herself another piece of pumpkin pie. "I will now resume my worship of the fat man in the red suit. We Americans worship him by buying, eating and exchanging colorful mixtures of fat, flour and sugar. Thus we transform ourselves into his image. I'd always heard that Americans were a highly religious people, and at the mall (although not on the television) I observed that we are devout indeed. Look, Stanley," she said, pointing to the hearth behind her. "I removed the flue and spark arrester from the chimney, thus facilitating Santa's entry and exit on Christmas Eve. He certainly must be a god of great power, for according to my calculations, even taking into account that due to the Earth's rotation he has twenty-four hours make his deliveries, still he will have to fly his sled at an average speed of 864,324 miles per hour--"
"--Blondhilda," Stanley tried to say.
"--I think there must be some mistake about his workshop being at the North Pole, though," Blondhilda continued. "China seems a more likely location."
"Blondhilda, stop," Stanley said.
Blondhilda looked at him.
"None of what you see on television is reality. You can't get true knowledge from television. I think you should disregard everything you saw on it."
Blondhilda closed her eyes momentarily. Her formidable mind retained the memory of the television download, but using iron discipline, she quickly erased its every influence on her beliefs and attitudes.
"I think I just gained back fifty IQ points."
Stanley smiled and kissed her. Then he looked her up and down. "You can change back now, if you like."
Blondhilda touched her Sword of Diet and Exercise.
"I'd like to take you somewhere," Stanley said.
* * *
Blondhilda went to their bedroom and changed into ordinary attire while Stanley warmed up the car. As Stanley opened the door of the Bentley for Blondhilda, he looked from his sprawling mansion to his wife, now restored to her usual lithe but voluptuous physique. "You know," he said, "if we ever run out of money, we could probably make a quick billion or two with that sword of yours."
They drove to church. Pin It Now!