The presents are opened, the rum punch drunk, the puddings consumed (figgy and yorkshire) and we authoresses are all gathered in a pile around the tree, seven more pieces of flotsam amidst the holiday carnage.
And yes, there is a tree. Depending on what year it is in the mutable timeline of the Ballroom, Lady B is either leading the trend for candle-lit Christmas trees among the British aristocracy, or she’s really setting the trend — possibly inventing it.
“I don’t think I can eat another christmas cookie,” I said from my prone position on the floor. “Until next year.”
“I’m with you,” Miranda moans, burping from her eggnog intake.
“I’m just glad the wrapping is over,” Sabrina said, eyeing Lauren and Sarah. The other new moms nod in agreement. “So. Much. Wrapping.”
“This is what Boxing Day was made for,” Tessa murmured, curled up by the fire like a cat. “Mandatory post Christmas downtime.”
“I thought it was the day that servants receive their gifts and holiday off from their employers,” Katharine replied, coming up on an elbow.
“Potato, Potahto,” Tessa shrugged.
Yes, we were very much enjoying our post-holiday haze, when Lady B burst into the room, and sees us in our heap.
“LADIES THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!”
Seven authoress heads came up with a start.
“Lady B, what’s wrong?” Sarah asked.
“What’s WRONG? What’s wrong is that we are having a ball on monday! Three days hence! And there is still SO MUCH TO DO!”
<squawk> “Last Ball!” <squawk> Albert said from his perch atop the Christmas Tree, before going back to chomping on a popcorn garland.
“Right, the final ball of the year,” I said. “But Lady B, we have balls all the time. Surely this isn’t…”
“Of course it is!” Lady B puffed out a breath. “There’s the menu —”
“But we’ve already done that,” Sabrina reminded her.
“And then the beverages —”
“Drinks are covered!” Tessa called out, coming to her feet.
“Um…” I said, pointing the the tree, as well as the valances of holiday bunting and the shining gold and hundreds of candles, ready to light a
“And the guest list?” she asked, her eyebrow going up.
Miranda popped up. “Right here!” She handed Lady B pages of names. “You told me to invite whomever I want.”
“No, no, no,” Lady B cried once she perused the list. “This won’t do at all!”
“It’s far too short!”
“Short?” Miranda replied, shocked. “But its twice as many guests as we’ve ever had!”
“Well, I want three times! No, four!” Lady B declared. “This is a very important ball! It must be the absolute most fantastic crush we’ve ever thrown. Invite everyone! All of your characters! Anyone who’s ever been to the ball before!” she clapped her hands. “Come ladies! Time to work!”
We all shared glances. Then shrugged. “Better get to writing out invitations.”
The biggest ball of the year is coming on Monday — and we are inviting absolutely everyone! Who are you looking forward to most seeing? Let us know below, and happy holidays!