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Peppermint Snowflakes

Alice held her mother’s hand as they walked down a snowy London street. Well, Alice’s mother would have said they were walking, but Alice felt as if her arm would come right off if her mother pulled any harder. Although Alice knew it was partially her own fault, she couldn’t help but stop and stare at the Christmas baubles hanging in the windows of all the shop displays. They were just oh so pretty the way they glittered and shimmered in the white sunlight!

Her mother didn’t like Alice to take heed of such things; she thought Alice dreamt far too much. “You dream when you sleep. You dream when you wake. How will you ever know what’s happening in the real world, Alice?” her mother had said to her many times before. Alice usually just pouted and went off to tell her adorable little cat Dinah about her latest adventures in Wonderland.

Alice was so caught up in her own thoughts that she barely noticed when her mother stopped and nearly toppled back into the snow when her mother pulled her back.

“Now Alice,” said her mother, “You sit right here while I do the Christmas shopping,” she pointed to a little crooked bench outside the shop window, “and I’ll be back very soon. Be good, darling.”

“Yes mother,” said Alice dutifully as she went over to the bench and sat down. She swung her feet which were tucked into striped stockings and warm boots; they barely grazed the top of the snowdrift gathering beneath the bench.

Alice looked up at the sky, noticing millions of tiny white snowflakes drifting lazily downwards. She stuck out her tongue in an attempt to catch one of the shimmering specks. After a few moments of this she noticed she was being watched.

“I’m trying to catch a snowflake on my tongue,” she explained to the little boy who was now sitting beside her. There was a small crutch leaning against the bench next to him.

“Why would you want to do that?” asked the boy.

“Well, I imagine they would taste like peppermint candy,” said Alice, “If only I could catch one!”

“My father told me once that snow is just like rain, only colder,” said the boy, matter-of-factly.

“Do you always listen to what your father says?” asked Alice curiously.

“I do,” answered the boy, “I love my father very much and I know he loves me. He wouldn’t tell me things if they were not true.”

Alice considered this for a moment. “I love my mother and father very much too,” said Alice, “But I don’t always believe them.”

“Why is that?”

“Because sometimes I am right and they are wrong.”

“How so?”

Alice leaned in close and whispered to the boy, “They told me Wonderland is not real, but I know it really is. I’ve been there!”

“Wonderland?” mused the boy, “What sort of place is that?”

“Oh, it’s quite wonderful!” said Alice smiling, “It’s a whole world where everything is backwards. But sometimes backwards is forwards, and right is wrong, and left is right and… oh you’d have to go there to see!”

“Sounds like it’s very easy to get lost,” said the boy.

“Oh it is, but that’s the fun of it!” said Alice excitedly “You never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll be when you get there.” Then she paused. “Although one time I was quite frightened because I was sure I had become Mabel, but now I’m quite sure I’m Alice. Do I look like Alice to you?”

The boy looked at her for a moment before saying, “You look like Alice to me.”

“Wonderful!” said Alice, “You know, for a moment I was frightened part of me was still in Wonderland. Not that I would mind too much, but I would sure like it if all of me stayed in the same place at the same time.”

“You want to stay in Wonderland?” questioned the boy.

“Why of course,” answered Alice, “I could dream all the time and no one would tell me not to.”

“But wouldn’t you miss your family?”

“I would miss them some,” said Alice, “But I could always just pretend they were there, and it would be the same.”

“It would not be the same,” said the boy, suddenly impassioned, “I would never want to be without my family. My father, my mother, my brothers and sisters, even my dear Uncle Ebenezer - God bless them, every one.”

“Oh my, how do you find time to think with so many people around?” asked Alice, “I think I should get lost in such a family.”

“No, it is much easier to think when there is someone to think to,” said the boy.

“But then your thoughts and their thoughts get all jumbled. I should think that would be dreadfully confusing.”

“No more confusing than your Wonderland.”

“But at least Wonderland is mine, and not somebody else’s.”

“I would imagine that would be awfully lonely. For a long while my father had to work almost all the time. Even on Christmas Day! I missed him very much.”

“If my father worked on Christmas Day, it would not make any difference to me. Although I do very much enjoy the Christmas gifts. I did one time get a beautiful toy horse, and I imagined I was a knight in shining armor all day!”

“But that’s not what Christmas is all about.” The boy’s voice was very quiet.

“What do you mean?” demanded Alice.

“My family doesn’t have much money for gifts,” said the boy, his face turning red, but then he added defiantly, “But we don’t need them. As long as my family is there I am very happy. And we have delicious cooked goose and sing songs and tell stories…” He trailed off as if lost in a memory.

“I enjoy songs,” said Alice, “but I only get to sing them for lessons. But sometimes I mess them up. Father and Mother dislike when I mess up my lessons. But when I mess up in Wonderland nobody besides me cares!” she ended

excitedly.

“But don’t you wish for people to care? My whole family listens when I talk and sing, and when I mess up they do not mind, but only correct me kindly.”

“I don’t want them to correct me. I am fine just the way I am. I think I make a good Alice,” she said haughtily.

“I think I make a good me,” said the boy, “but I don’t think I would be the same me without my family.”

“Well,” she leaned in close and whispered, “Sometimes I think I might be a different Alice in Wonderland! But Mother and Father don’t know that. They like the Alice they know and sometimes I think they don’t even like that Alice very much.”

The boy gave her a pitying look. “I should think your family would like you no matter which Alice you were.”

“Well, it does not matter to me,” said Alice, “I prefer Wonderland anyway.”

“But don’t you like to talk to your mother and father?”

“Why should I talk to them when I can come up with much more exciting and wonderful things in my own head?”

“I bet sometimes your mother and father have exciting and wonderful things to say that you have not even thought up yet.”

“I bet there are things that you haven’t even thought up yet because you always listen to the things your mother and father say.”

“You are a strange girl,” said the boy.

“You are a strange boy,” said Alice.

They were both quiet for a moment, thinking about what the other had to say. Soon the silence was broken by a bell on the shop door which tinkled as a man came out.

“There you are son!” said the man in a jovial voice. He came over and kindly helped the boy off the bench, supporting him until the boy was able to get his crutch in place. The man put his arm around the boy’s little shoulders as they walked away.

The boy looked back at Alice and smiled before saying to his father, “Did you know that snowflakes taste like peppermint candies?”

To which his father laughed as he replied, “That is quite an imagination you’ve got there, Tiny Tim.”

Alice only had to wait a few more minutes alone before her mother came out of the shop, one arm laden with Christmas goodies.

“Hello Alice dear,” said her mother as she came over to the bench. Alice slid off the bench and took her mother’s hand.

“Mother?” asked Alice.

“Yes dear?”

“I was wondering something. What are the snowflakes made of?”

Her mother looked down at Alice, utterly surprised that she was interested in something not in her own head. Then she smiled and squeezed her daughter’s hand. “Well, when I was little like you I used to think they were made of little candies, but actually the snowflakes are frozen rain! Isn’t that interesting?”

“Oh yes,” said Alice, “very interesting.” She looked up at her mother and smiled. Then she turned to look for the boy, but he and his father had already disappeared around the corner, and were out of sight.

Megan Nolan - Optional Project

For this story I imagined what a conversation between Lewis Carrol's Alice and Charles Dickens' Tiny Tim would be like, and this is the result. I tried to stay true to how the books' portrayed the characters along with my own perceptions of their thoughts and personalities. In this dialogue I hoped to convey how both characters (and by extension, authors) viewed the importance of childhood and family. My sense from reading both texts was that Carroll was more concerned with preserving that sense of wonder you have when you are a child, as not much is mentioned about Alice's family in the books. I also looked at how Alice was portrayed in the movies, specifically the Tim Burton one, where she defies her mother's wish that she marry Hamish. I also took note of the fact that Alice spreads her imagination to her sister - who ends up dreaming of Wonderland after hearing Alice recount her tales - and I try to show the same sort of effect with Alice and Tiny Tim. As for Tiny Tim's character, there was less to work with in terms of how often he appeared in the book. While Tiny Tim is a prominent character in Dickens' A Christmas Carol he does not actually appear all that often. However, the sense I get from reading Dickens' work is that he has very family-oriented views. The Cratchit family is quite large, but they all seem to be very close, as the descriptions of their Christmastime festivities would reveal. In this passage I tried to show what I think each character would learn from the other if they actually had the chance to talk. Tiny TIm would learn to use his imagination, as he most likely was not given much of a chance before considering the financial troubles his family had and his own health issues, while Alice would learn to get her head out of the clouds every once in a while and begin to appreciate her family. I hope you enjoyed it!

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