They remember by the length of the days, by the feeling in their bones. It had been years since they had celebrated the day, but they always knew when one had passed. The days got shorter, the nights longer and they knew to prepare for the cold days ahead. The oldest of them remembered when it had been a day of food, family and joy. It had all but slipped their minds until the day they are looking through the library that had belonged to the Wives, trying to catalogue the information, and they find the book. They pass it around, reverently, and it brings a smile to each face as they trace the words and pictures. The oldest wondered if now, safe in a fortress, they might renew the tradition.
They ask her, their beautiful warrior, the sum of all they are and all they have ever been. They whisper the words Christmas, Solstice, Yuletide. She is busy, so busy, but never so busy that she can’t spare a moment for them. They would like to help reform traditions, they would like to celebrate that the first of the new crops are ready. They ask if the the red haired one might help.
The red haired one does help.
“So, it’s a party?” she asks, crouched in the garden tending to some of the lower plants. They smile, nod.
“A celebration. Of the longest day of the year,” one says.
“Very traditional. We would have a feast with family, small gifts. Furiosa suggested you might help,” says another. They could do it themselves, of course they could. But they are the Many Mothers and they know what the children need. And the child in front of them, born into a life of pain, raised to be a docile lamb, turned into a wolf, the child in front of them has lifeless eyes since the Fury Road. Young love, they had told Furiosa, runs deep.
She is unsure, still frowning, so one sits next to her and brings out the book. They have to read it twice, because she asks so many questions the first time, but by the end of the second she smiles at them, small dimples appearing. “That seems like fun.”
Privately, they think it sounds like a lot of work. They pick a date in the following week, enough time for people to make small gifts if they wish but not so far as to be something intangible. They explain to everyone, in small groups, in large groups at meals and when the water is handed out. All will be welcome.
The progress is slow and they worry. What is the point of a celebration if the same people are at the table as always? But they see a man shyly embroidering a womans name onto a piece of fabric, another carving a small toy and soon people are asking if they can help. They direct them all to her.
She falls into the work as if the was born to it, beyond living up to her name. Soon, they are as they should be, advisors to the next generation. They teach how to grind, how to bake, how to boil with the crop. They watch the smile spread over her face as she takes her first bite of sweet corn.
They spend an evening with the children, the War Boys and the ones from below, and teach them the songs. They may not be able to deck the halls, but they will raise their voices. They tell them of St. Nicholas, the man in red who once upon a time brought toys to everyone and might again one day soon. They tell them that it is better to give than to receive and that their bellies will be full for one day.
They find her the night before, her and the other beauties, making flowers out of rags and arguing about the exact number of children.
“They all deserve presents, all of them!” she tell them, frowning a little as she tries to poke the needle through a particularly dense piece of fabric. They smile, and their hearts feel full. They all work well into the night.
The next morning, they laugh as the Mad one pulls up, his bike and clothes red from crossing the pits to the north of the Bullet Farm. The children call him St. Nicholas and crowd around him and for a second, they worry. But a new hue of red appears in the crowd around the bike and soon Max (as they grudgingly realise they must call him to his face) is handing out clothe flowers to the every child, the smiling Capable slipping them onto the seat behind him.
Soon gifts are being exchanged by many and there are hugs and smiles and soon after that they eat. They have, for the day, moved the gas guzzlers outside and made room so everyone can eat at the same time in the car bays. It’s a simple meal, as far as these celebrations used to be. They remember shrimp, steak, turkey. But now they marvel along with everyone else at a simple corn bread, a lizard soup with root vegetables and, perhaps most shocking for all, a perfect tomato for each person.
“To many mothers, and many meals like this.” Furiosa toasts, raising her cup to the sky. Hundreds of cups raise with hers, to give thanks for survival and for the promise of better days ahead.
After dinner the children sing, haltingly at first but then with more gusto as the Mothers, the Wives and the people who remember the days before join in. They all move outside once the sun has gone down and mingle around a series of fires that have been lit, unwilling to let the the longest day end. And then, the little ones falling asleep around them, a Mother reaches into her bag and brings out the book. Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse….
The children asleep, the adults carry on. People talk of next year, of the next crops, of the next gifts they will make to give. People talk about the future in the a way that all mothers dream people will.
They grow tired and make their excuses, not managing to slip away without Capable noticing and chasing after them.
“He would have liked this, Nux would have,” she tells them. “He would have said it was chrome.”
Her voice is sad but later, as they are nattering in the room they share in those moments before sleep, they agree she sounds more like the woman they met for the first time as she stepped out of the War Rig and less like the woman they saw tending the crops a few weeks earlier. Time heals most wounds. And as they faded into sleep, in the distance they heard someone call out Merry Christmas to all and to all a good-night!
They would remember this day, not as Christmas or Yuletide or the Solstice, but as the day the people of their community found the joy of living together and the traditions they could form. The day they remembered what made them human. The Mothers knew this, as they knew the lengths of the days. They could feel it in their bones and this made them smile.