WeWriWa—Joyless Christmas


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, as Grand Duke Mikhail tries to cheer up his morose 14-year-old nephew on Orthodox Christmas 1919.

One of the many reasons I’ve long been so drawn to Aleksey and haunted by what might’ve been is my natural pull towards dark horses and underdogs. This was one of the unlikeliest heirs ever, this sickly young boy many people didn’t expect to survive into adulthood or be healthy enough to rule in his own right. But the will to survive is a very powerful thing, and sometimes the strongest people and greatest heroes are those we least expected.


Grand Duke Mikhail in 1898, four years after the unexpected loss of his father


Mikhaíl took a seat beside his nephew and put his arm around him. “I lost my father when I was fifteen, not that much older than you.  It’s a very big adjustment to have to get used to, but you must do it.  What other choice do you have?  I also hated how my childhood was over so prematurely, but I did the best I could.  Now would you like to open some presents early?  I bet that’ll make you feel a whole lot better.”

“I doubt any of these presents were bought by my parents before God took them away from me.”


13 comments on “WeWriWa—Joyless Christmas

  1. Poor Aleksey! I think I say that every week. 🙂 I think you might be right about him being strong enough to make it as an adult. Sometimes having a big obstacle to overcome in one’s youth creates an extraordinarily tough person. Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt come to mind.


  2. Sarah W says:

    Poor, depressed kid . . . and poor Mikhaíl, too. I’m sure he would love to treat Aleksey as a child for just a little longer–so much easier to comfort.


  3. Kate Warren says:

    I think Aleksey should listen to his uncle Mikhail. Opening presents, even though they aren’t from his parents, might actually distract him from his grief for a little bit.


  4. ralfast says:

    Loss can serve as a great test of character.


  5. Alexis Duran says:

    Your dialogue is very poignant, as usual. It’s nice that Aleksey has such an understanding uncle. Love the photo (also as usual).


  6. caitlinstern says:

    Everything will remind him of his loss for a while, I bet. But it will get better with time.


  7. Whitney says:

    that last sentence though! Great 8. 🙂


  8. Elainecsc2013 says:

    It makes your heart bleed, doesn’t it?


  9. Jenna Jaxon says:

    So sad, especially from the child’s perspective. But his uncle is right. He’s got to find a way to move past it, and opening presents might be a good start. Super snippet.


  10. Aww… 😦 Good stuff!


  11. Karen Michelle Nutt says:

    Just about broke my heart with his last line.


  12. I know what you mean about being drawn to underdogs and dark horses! I wonder what kind of ruler Aleksey would have been…another excellent excerpt.


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