Wow, you guys! Are you as excited as I am? We all get to be in a Christmas parade! I know I told you we’d be dressing up, but I had no idea this event was going to be more like a carnival. I think I need to gather a few more things so that we can look as festive as possible! 

I’ll start with horses. 

“Hello, Brian? Hey, it’s Circe. I am trying to get ready for this parade and realized I could use a couple of horses. Is there any chance I can borrow two of yours for the day? You know, I’m ….” 

“Ms. Circe! How the heck are ya?” 

“I’m great, Brian. Any chance I can grab a couple horses from you in a few minutes? I’ll have them back to you by tomorrow. I promise! Plus, you know they’re safe with me!” 

“That’s fine, but I’ll save you some time! I’ll deliver them to you.” 

“Wow! Thank you!” 

“You’re welcome! By the way, what do you need them for anyway?” 

“Um…some people were telling me this parade is quite the display, and um…I started rethinking my ‘entry’, and um…thought horses would lend a rustic touch. And then, we’ll drape them with holiday blankets and even some lights around their necks. You know, now that we’re talking, my ‘cousin’ and I might even ride them, escorting the other animals and the sleigh.” 

“Your cousin? Have I met this person?” 

“Brian, what’s with all the questions? I only called to see if I could snag two of your horses for the day.” 

“Oh, yeah…sorry, Circe. You never cease to intrigue me. Anyway, sure…I’ll be there in a few.” 

“Thank you. I didn’t mean to be so impatient. I do appreciate you! See you in a bit!” 

Yikes! What am I going to do about him when he gets here? I know he’s being generous, but he’s going to be impossible to get rid of. 

Think. First of all, he still has to load the horses, which means I have more time than it seems. Secondly, he’s going to ask about my cousin. Where do I find a cousin? Wait a minute! 

Where is she? “KoukouBayia? Where are you, my little owl protector? There you are. I don’t mean to disturb you; well, that’s not really true. Let me try again.” 

“I’m sorry for disturbing you, and need you to help me with something. You’ve probably overheard all the talk around here about the upcoming Christmas parade. I am cordially inviting you to join me as my cousin!” 

“Don’t look at me like that. Brian has agreed to let me borrow two horses for the evening; however, we need him to leave right after the horses are unloaded. I have a special elixir here for you to sip. What was that? Oh, you want to know what it does? It’s a shapeshifting serum. You see, I need you to be a human this evening. In fact, hold that thought. Take a sip, and let’s continue this conversation once you’ve transformed.” 

“There you go. How do you feel?” 

“Awkward…and fine.” 

“Awesome, and welcome to your human body! Brian is on his way. I will introduce you to him as Bayia.” 

“Why just Bayia?” 

“Trust me. It’ll keep things much simpler with him. Anyway, once the horses are out of the trailer, I want you to take them out to the barn with the other animals. In fact, take these two containers of elixir with you. Once they’re out there, split one between them. We’ll use the second one when it’s time to change them back.” 

“Are you turning them into something?” 

“Yes. Mortals. More specifically, mortals that can help me fancy up the wagon out there, and make it look like a sleigh. Once that’s done, I’ll turn them back into horses for the parade.” 

“You’re turning them into mortals, to turn them back into horses?” 

“Yes, I am. I have to give them back as horses. I just needed a couple more sets of hands to help me with this wagon/sleigh project. And then, Brian asked me why I needed them. I couldn’t exactly tell him that I was going to change them into human form, so I said my cousin and I wanted to ride alongside the sleigh on decorated horses. Did I go too far?” 

“I don’t know. I’m only an owl.” 

“Please don’t tell Brian…or anyone for that matter. You’ll be back to your regular self in time for your nightly hunt! Yet, while you’re a mortal, can you please help me get the other animals ready? I’m pretty sure Brian’s bringing the bridles and saddles. He better be! We need them to place the horses…Anyway, I’ll come help you as soon as he leaves. Which brings me back to where I started. Your first job is to turn those horses into mortals!” 

“I can do that!” 

“You know, the more I think about it, Brian is going to be a handful. He usually is; so, maybe I’ll treat him to my special wine, and make things easier for all of us. This way, there’s no long conversation, no delays. Not to mention, handling him like this means we save him a trip back over in the morning! What do you think?” 

“I’m not entirely sure, but it does sound like a plan. So, what are we actually doing in this parade?” 

“I’m sorry, Bayia. That’s the best part! We’re going to be the life of the party, handing out candy before giving the puppies away at the end!” 

“Sounds like fun. I’ve only ever watched these things from my roost. Truthfully, I stay away from all mortal activities; too noisy. And why are we giving these puppies away?” 

“Well, Christmas is a time when many mortals exchange gifts. Frankly, it’s confusing. Some tell stories about a baby named Jesus. I guess three random sheep herders decided to celebrate the birth of this child with a few presents. I have no idea, but the rest, they say, is history! And then, there’s another story about some guy called Santa. I’m still not sure about him other than the fact that he apparently takes presents to children all around the world. Well, maybe not all the children, because the ones in this area are getting presents from people that live around here, including me. It seems several of them wanted a puppy from Santa. My friend Sheila told me that her husband is pretending to be Santa, and will be the one giving the local children their gifts. We just have to deliver these little guys to that pretend Santa.” 

“Duly noted! What about the goats?” 

“They are going to be our ‘reindeer’. I have the perfect antlers to go on their heads. In fact, as the horses are shapeshifting, you could dress the goats. Oh, before I forget, there are some sweatpants and shirts out there, to the left of the door. You might want to make sure the horses are aware of those before giving them their elixir.” 

“Do you honestly think these horses are going to understand an owl?” 

“You’re speaking pretty clearly right now. Your shift worked beautifully. I’m certain theirs will, too. Not to mention, they work with humans every day. They’re used to hearing words. They’ll be just fine. Do I hear Brian pulling in? Let’s go do this!” 

“Hey, hey! You made it! Thank you so much!” 

“Hey Circe! And who do we have here!?” 

“Brian, this is my cousin Bayia. Bayia, Brian.” 

“Hello, Brian. It’s nice to meet you.” 

“The pleasure is all mine, Bayia.” 

“Ookay! Bayia, let’s get these horses unloaded. Brian, come with me. I made you a little something.” 

“Well, Circe, Bayia may need my help.” 

“Nah, she’s fine and quite used to getting animals to go where she wants them. Come on! I have a special treat, just for you!” 

“You didn’t have to do that!” 

“I know, and you didn’t have to let me borrow your horses. So, I thought I’d say ‘thank you’ with a little homemade mead.” 

“How did you know I like mead?” 

“I pay attention. Allow me to pour you a glass.” 

“Wow! The special treatment. Thank you!” 

“What do you think? Take another sip!” 

“My goodness, Circe; it’s very good, and you’re rather insistent. What’s going on with you?” 

“I guess you might say I’m just really excited about this evening!” 

“I get that. I know it’s your first time in our local parade. I can hardly wait to see your holiday sleigh!” 

“Um…what?” 

“Yeah. I was going to head over to the tavern and watch from the porch.” 

“Can I pour you another glass?” 

“Circe?! Is there something else going on?” 

“Nope. Nothing, I promise.” 

“If you say soooo. Gee, any chance I can I sit down for a moment? I’m not feeling so good…” 

“Absolutely! Rest right here. Are you ok?” 

“I’m fine. I just want to sit for a bit.” 

“As long as you’re sure. I should probably check on Bayia.” 

“Go. Take your time. I won’t leave before you get back. I just need to put my… snorrrrrrrrt…” 

Finally! 

Now, time to see how things are going!? I believe the only task left is to get those panels up and hide the wheels. Maybe a few finishing touches with the animals. Tell me, who doesn’t love a little Christmas magic?! Wagons into sleighs, horses into mortals… 

It pays to be resourceful… 

“Hello? Bayia? How’s everyone doing? Oh my gosh! Look at you guys! Who knew goats could be so delightful? And you puppies?! You’re adorable! And that’s coming from a Goddess who didn’t know a dog before you guys! I do believe these children are going to be so happy to meet you!” 

“Hi, Circe. How’d it go with Brian? Whoa! Where did that pig come from?” 

“Bayia, meet Brian.” 

“Who? What? Brian? The same Brian you introduced me to at the house?” 

“The one and the same! So, what else needs to be done before we leave?” 

“Um, just putting the sides up. A pig? Really? You turned Brian into a pig? Sorry, Circe, I don’t mean to question you, but are there any more surprises?” 

“I understand, and believe Brian the swine is the last one for today.” 

“Well, everything else is done and ready to go. Is he going to remember this?” 

“Bayia, he’s fine and no, he will not. Do we have any extra lights to drape on him?” 

“I think so. Yes, there are some over here. So, does the pig ride in the sleigh?” 

“Absolutely! Any more questions?” 

“Yes. How do the goats pull the sleigh?” 

“Easy! It’s an illusion! Do you see this bar? We’ll attach it to each horse, stabilizing and separating them just enough so that the goats can walk between them. No one will see the bar from either side; especially the way we’re going to drape the horses. It’ll look like they are simply flanking the sleigh as the goats do the ‘work’. Speaking of horses, drink up, you guys!” 

“This is going to be fun! Well, not entirely. This pig thing makes me nervous. Humans are an odd creature.” 

“Bayia, I’m a sorceress, not a human.” 

“Got it. So what do I do now?” 

“Well, it seems the parade has just started moving. So, as we get to the intersection, we’ll wait for the right time to slip into place. You know, now that I think about it, maybe you and I should be carrying a puppy. It’s not like the kids won’t hear them whining up there, and this way, they’ll get a glimpse as we hand out their treats!” 

“Circe, you’re a softie?!” 

“I have my moments, and they’re temporary. Merry Christmas, everyone!!”

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