As the princess and her new friends started on the trail, Flo kept asking her about her life at home. “I forgot to ask your name,” said Flo. “Amanda,” answered the princess. “That’s a lovely name,” Flo replied. Just then, they both heard the pitter-patter of little feet behind them. A whole collection of squirrels was following closely. Flo said, “That’s Tony’s family. They will help us on our journey back to your family.” Amanda looked sad. She said, “That reminds me of my two hermanos.” Flo looked puzzled and questioned, “Hermonos? What’s an hermanos?” The princess laughed. “Hermanos is the Spanish word for brothers. I come from a Spanish family. I am the oldest, and I have two younger brothers. My father is one of six princes who was matched with my mother, Sophia. She’s a princess from Spain.” Flo said, “I’ve never met an actual princess. Do I bow?” “No, please don’t,” said Amanda. “Sometimes, I’d like to be just an ordinary girl. I see some of my regular friends. They don’t have the responsibilities that I have in my life. I have to act proper all the time, and the standards are higher for me.” Flo said, “Well out here in the woods, we are all the same. We help each other. You don’t have to act any special way around me or any of our forest friends.” For the moment, that put Amanda at ease.
As they walked further, Amanda worried more and more that the time was ticking away. She had less than two days to get home for Christmas. Flo could tell that the princess was getting sadder and more concerned. All of a sudden, the princess looked up she said, “Do you hear that?” Flo perked her ears up, but she only heard the silence of the woods against the sounds of their footsteps. She asked, “What do you hear?” “Those jingle bells,” answered Amanda. Flo looked puzzled. She didn’t hear any bells. She began to think that the princess hit her head a bit hard when she fell in the snow. Suddenly, Amanda got a quickness in her step. “We must follow those bells,” she said. Flo looked at Tony and his furry family. Nobody but the princess was hearing bells, but they followed her anyway.
Along the way, Tony’s family managed to gather enough berries for everyone to enjoy as a nice snack. Amanda’s stomach had been growling for hours. Tony and his brothers were fighting over who would get the reddest berries. It reminded Amanda of her and her brothers. Although they were not supposed to quarrel, she often got into scuffles with them. When Amanda and her brothers would play too hard, her parents with scowl at her. She was expected to act in a lady-like manner. It wasn’t fair how her brothers got away with everything. She always had to behave well. However, being away from her family made her yearn for her impish brothers. What she would do to be fighting with them right now. Why did she run away? Thoughts of everyone enjoying all of the family’s Wassailia traditions without her made her incredibly upset. “We have to move faster,” said Amanda. “I refuse to miss out on the upcoming holiday.”
As everyone walked along the cold path, Flo pressed Amanda for more details about her Wassailia celebration. She said, “When I was a young fairy, my parents, my fairy grandparents, and I would decorate a magical tree. I would flit to the top and place a star on the tallest limb. Then, my mother would fly around and sprinkle pixie dust over all of its branches. That made it glisten and shine. We would all join in a circle, fly around, and sing our favorite songs. The louder we sang, the brighter the lights would get.” “That sounds lovely,” said Amanda. Flo planted herself on the princess’s shoulder. She said, “Tell us about your celebration.”
Amanda wanted to keep moving along, but she took a moment to stop and discuss her holiday traditions. The thoughts of her family and friends put a smile on her face. “Oh Flo, Christmas is the most magical time of year. Our entire community gathers to sing songs, eat cookies, drink hot cocoa, and open gifts. There’s a huge tree in the center of the village. All the families bring special ornaments and help to decorate. You can actually feel the joy in the air. After we’re done with the tree, we all gather for a giant feast. Meat platters, cheese trays, warm pots of soup, cookies, cakes, and many different homemade goodies are out for everyone to enjoy. I can smell the delicious aroma in the air. It makes me even hungrier. The fellowship of the community is a beautiful thing. Then, my family distributes gifts to all of our neighbors. The smiles on all of their faces are brighter than the tree lights. It certainly is a sight to behold, and it warms my heart every year. I just have to get back home in time.”
Tony interrupted and discussed how his family celebrates the holiday. He said, “We don’t have a fancy tree or gifts. We find an abandoned log in the forest and make it all pretty. We sprinkle it with holly and light it up. The heat of the fire keeps us warm as we toast some nuts and enjoy each other’s company.” Flo said, “That sounds lovely Tony. Isn’t it funny how we all celebrate Christmas in different ways, but it is still a special time for each of us?” The princess started to think. “You are exactly right,” said Amanda. She never stopped to ponder how others celebrated. She never thought about not having gifts or a gigantic tree. She never imagined anyone celebrating Wassailia any other way than the way Hazelwood does.
The group proceeded along and discovered an empty cave. Amanda’s legs were very sore, and she was feeling extremely tired. Although she wanted to get home, she knew that a little nap may be necessary. Flo and Tony convinced her to rest a few minutes so that she could regain her energy and make it home tomorrow. The princess snuggled up and fell asleep instantly. Flo watched her sleep. She couldn’t help but wonder the true identity of this princess and what she was destined to become.