No one is sure where it came from. The old books with paper pages will tell you that it came from Cologne Cathedral, but I’m not so sure anymore. I imagine it comes out of the woodwork when trouble starts and times are dark. It’s time for the holidays again, but all we hear are the bombs of the war crashing down on our walls, shaking our souls and the ground beneath us.

The Archons of the city have gathered us children in the basements and the shelters as everyone awaits an end. They tell us stories and in each of these stories I listen for a crooked stick of candy.

Think back to the battle to defend Earth. In the chaos of the Narxar attacks, the holidays happened and the fighting stopped. The invaders didn’t have to put down their guns, but when they saw smiles and heard singing, they almost had a reverence about it. Somewhere in that story, a child was handed one of these curved confections and life was made better for it. Rumors have it that when peace was made with the Narxar, one of the canes was given as tribute.

Who could forget the civil war of the Mars colonies? A whole thirteen years filled with blood and sacrifice. The usually dry desert of the red planet was soaked with the blood of those who had given their lives for the right to make laws. It was then that the sky softened and revealed to them that man controlled nothing but himself. Snow broke the battle. It coated the red, if only for a day, and it cleared the minds of those who were riddled with anger. I like to imagine that someone handed someone else this length of peppermint and all was made right with the stars and the heavens.

In darker times, when we invaded Delfia II for its plentiful resources, for its air and plants and endless reserves of fuel, we expected to skip the holidays until we were victorious. Still, the Delfian climate was so warm and peaceful that when the time for celebration and goodwill came about, the soldiers lost their wills to fight. The war had become unimportant. Sometimes, I dream about a soldier holding up one of those perfect shiny red and whites and handing it to a Delfian child no older than myself. That child would know that everything would be all right.

Yet, here we are now. The ground trembles and my friends are huddled together as if our proximity could protect us from the bombs. Our Archons have left to defend us from the soldiers who would enter and kill us. I pray that no one wins. I pray that the sky opens up and that snowflakes fall down. I pray that somewhere, anywhere, someone will remember why we breathe, why we live, and why we created the word “peace.”

Then, the walls stop shaking. A deafening silence fills the air around me. My friend Sarah reaches over to me and takes my hand, pressing something into my palm. I look down and see a transmitter antennae, bent and shaped like a cane. Like a candy cane. Smiling, I take her hand and close my eyes. Somehow, everything is going to be alright.