“What is he doing?” Gwaine asked, looking at the rather strange sight of Percival and his horse dragging a huge tree to the castle.
“Beats me,” Leon answered, “shouldn’t we be helping him?”
“No, let’s just go and watch for a while first.”
They stood at the top of the stairs, watching Percival struggling, trying with all his might to drag the tree along the corridors to the Great Hall, shouting “make way, please, make way!” Finally Percival managed to haul the tree into the Hall, causing Arthur to look rather surprised.
“Do you care to explain what it is you’re doing?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes Sire, it’s a new thing Sire, and I thought…”
“You thought, why not drag a whole tree into the Great Hall,” Arthur answered.
“Yes Sire,” Percival was beaming now, and smiling broadly, “It’s a Saxon thing, Sire, and quite nice too!”
“A Saxon thing. In my Hall. Care to explain why?”
“It’s the festive season, Sire.”
“Yes, Percival, I know. We already had a beautiful Yule log in here, but don’t you think getting a whole tree is just a bit too much?”
“No Sire, you see, we will decorate it too!”
“We do decorate our trees outside, to please the spirits so they will come again next spring and make our trees grow new leaves and such.”
“yes Sire, but that’s outside, where it’s cold. And I have the most wonderful stuff to decorate the tree with. And we can put presents underneath.”
“Presents? Whatever for?”
“For fun, Sire. And there will be candles in it as well.”
“What! Are you trying to burn down Camelot? Well, do whatever it is you want to do.”
And with help from Gwaine, Leon and even Arthur himself he erected the tree and made sure it would not fall down.
“A Saxon thing?”
“Yes, Gwaine, they even have a name for it. They call it Weihnachten. Or Christmas.”
The next day Percival started decorating the tree. He had some beautiful and expensive glass spheres, red, green, white and gold, but they kept shattering in his hand.
“I think this may need a more delicate touch,” said Gwen, as she entered the Hall, “may I?”
Sheepishly Percival looked at his own huge hands, far more suited to handle a sword than fragile glass baubles.
“These are lovely, where did you get them?” Gwen asked.
“From a Saxon pedlar,” Pecival answered, “It’s a thing from their country, putting trees inside the house and decorating them.”
“You must keep quiet, but I think Arthur secretly likes it, he has sent Merlin to the market, to get small gifts to put under the tree. Don’t tell anyone now, Arthur will be furious.”
Percival smiled and whispered: “I won’t tell.”
That night everyone was gathered around the beautifully decorated tree. The candles in it made the baubles sparkle and twinkle like hundreds of little stars.
“They tell me this is a newfangled Saxon thing,” Arthur had said, “and I think it looks quite nice.” Everybody cheered. “And there are presents for everyone.” More cheers.
Gwen and Arthur themselves handed out all the parcels. Gwaine got a beautiful new drinking-horn, Merlin some new neckerchiefs, and Percival got nice box for his whetstones. Soon everybody was opening parcels and admiring their gifts, and those of others.
Arthur banged on the table to get everybody quiet, then he raised his goblet and said: “Friends, we’ve had a wonderful feast, and to keep in the spirit of this night, I wish all of you: Merry Christmas!”
For the love of Camelot!