Plum Station Midwinter:
A Town Prepares for the New Year
Against the backdrop of a gentle snowfall, Plum Station's residents and business owners have begun quietly, anxiously scurrying about in preparation for the local New Year's Eve festivities. The looming presence of the holiday has everyone in nervous thrall, holding their breaths in anticipation of renewal.
For readers unfamiliar with the annual calendar of events in Plum Station, we'll elaborate on them and the significance of this particular upcoming day. Four seasonal celebrations are recognized in the town that fits on the back of a stamp: Plum Beginnings, Plum Festival, Plum Harvest, and Plum Slumber. Of these, the two solstice celebrations are the most intently observed, and though summer's Festival may be the largest and liveliest, the transition from Harvest to Slumber, which is celebrated at the turn of the year, is perhaps the most sentimental of all.
Much like the winter holidays in other traditions, New Year's Eve in Plum Station is considered the most important occasion with which to spend time with your loved ones. Reminiscing about the past takes precedence over planning for the future, as once New Year's Day arrives, the season for Slumber begins - forcing any resolutions to join a gym into indefinite postponement. (Though Plum Station citizens don't technically hibernate, larger meals and longer dozes are highly encouraged in colder weather. In fact, many workplaces reduce their hours to allow for exactly that.)
Both the past and future are incorporated into Plum Station's most popular New Year's tradition, the writing of a letter to your future self. Each year, Stationers open the letter from the year before, as a reminder of how far they've come in the past three-hundred and sixty-five days. They then enclose a chronicle of their current selves - accomplishments, relationships, dreams and hopes - in an envelope for the future them to unfold. In recent years, it's become trendy for couples to exchange these letters in a similar fashion, writing to their lovers in the future under the assumption that they'll be together forever. The disastrous results of this practice have been chronicled in many a digital magazine thinkpiece.
Traditions such as these are more than just a source of personal fulfillment for individuals or deep embarrassment for ex-lovers: they're also sources of revenue for small-business owners like stationery designer and entrepreneuse Bon-Bon Regards. A fierce and fashionable facet of the local character, our reporters found her in the midst of intensely arranging a window display when they arrived on the scene. She has just returned from France, so her accent is slightly affected. "'Zis is ze most cutthroat time of year for businesse," she asserts. Although she owns the only stationery shop in town, a combination of fear and admiration prevents us from inquiring further about her meaning. "Je must take advantage of demand while eet ees highe - allez, sortez!" No one at the Gazette parles le français, so we can only assume her interjections are heartfelt wishes for the year ahead.
Bon-Bon is not the only Regards sibling with a business venture this holiday, as Plum Café's Travelling Beignets makes its highly-anticipated return to the streets. Beau Regards and his trustworthy companion Plum Jackson will be making the rounds on the 31st with a cart of traditionally fried plum-filled donuts and a carafe of hot Darjeeling tea. As of right now, the younger Regards can be found pacing up and down Main Street, rehearsing the path he'll take on the day of the event, visibly racked with every ounce of concentration and deliberation his being can handle.
Locals and outsiders participate in Plum Station's festivities alike: while head postmistress Ami Clement frantically delivers packages overflowing from the holidays, her college friend Forg Frog has rolled in from nearby Frog City to help decorate. He beams good-naturedly while stringing lights from post to post. "Ami told me all about how much work needed to be done here, so of course I had to come and help out. Normally, I work a 19-hour shift at the magazine, but I managed to convince my boss to let me use my lunch break for this, and now I'm here. It's like a dream..." he sighs, contentedly. In the spirit of objective reporting, we try not to worry about him.
We hope, readers, now that you have a better understanding of the customs and calendar in Plum Station, you'll consider coming out on the last day of the month to celebrate with everyone. Assuredly, there will be no warmer place at midnight on New Year's in Plum Station than in the heart of town, huddled under the fireworks with dear friends, writing letters and sharing sips of tea - except, perhaps, in the café kitchen, where the beignets are being fried.