The Legend of Christmukah
He was a dashing young lad, a chimney sweep of no more than twenty or so. She was a rich Jewish widow of glorious beauty, a lonely woman of almost forty. London brought them together on a mild December day when snowflakes the size of babies’ hands were gently gliding down from heaven.
The young boy was roaming the streets with his mates, all of them roaring and ranting like true little Brits, singing the lewd songs of their trade.
I’ll sweep your chimney Madam
With my giant swiving prick
More flue than you could fathom
Will I service with my stick
The narrower the shaaaft
The greater the glooryyy….
As they roamed the streets thus, the boys came across a beautiful gem of a house in Bedford Row. As he was the oldest, our chimney sweep enjoyed the privilege of picking the best houses. The others moved on as he stayed behind, knocking on the pretty door.
The mistress of the house, having heard the boys singing, ran towards the door with a heavy broom, intent on giving the young rogues a thrashing. But upon opening up, she found herself incapable of violence. There was but one of the poor little children on her doorstep, and he was so handsome and sad – with his big, glassy eyes, those awful pieces of leather strapped together to make “shoes”… Who could raise a hand against him?
The gentle lady took pity on the boy and showed him in. She gave him free reign over the chimney, even though it didn’t really need cleaning, and he climbed all the way up. The widow was glad when he finished, for she had feared he would fall and break her heart along with his back.
Once the job was done, she asked him to stay around for supper.
“After all, Christmas is soon upon us,” said she.
Later on, as they were dining together, the young chimney sweep noticed the particular way in which the house was decorated, and couldn’t contain his curiosity:
“Say, Madam, are you a Jew?”
“Yes, young man, I am.”
“But you still like to be held and things, yea?”
She gave out the sweetest laugh.
“Of course I still like to be held and things, my dear boy.”
Something happened at that instant, which was bound to happen, perhaps, but still seemed like a miracle. The wondrous magic of love gave birth to a spark, a seedling, a moment in time between the young boy and the gentle widow, as the early darkness of December was creeping across the sky outside.
Later yet, the seedling bloomed and the spark became a fire, as they made love on that silent night, his soot staining her impeccable dress like soil and snow mixing. They fashioned wedding bands out of lemongrass for each other and got married the same night, in the intimacy of their Bedford Row home.
The following day, the former widow decided they should celebrate their love and the union of their faiths. As they found themselves in the period between their two Great Holidays, Lady Chimney-sweep decreed she would give a gift to one of the boy’s mates each day of the said period, adopting them one by one as she did so.
And so a noble tradition began, which lasts to this very day. For each loud-mouthed orphan chimney-sweep, we have a day of Christmukah.
As for our glassy-eyed protagonist, he stayed with his wife for the rest of her life and filled her days with joy and absolute love. But one day she died, as is the way of things in this world, and our brave chimney-sweep was left a widower. It is said he died of grief but a day later.