Dawning Delights is a Lore book introduced in Black Armory during The Dawning. It contains Eva Levante's thoughts on residents of The Last City and its allies throughout the solar system. Entries are unlocked by completing gift recipes for each character in Eva's oven. Seven new entries were added in Season of Dawn during The Dawning 2019, corresponding to new gift recipes.
I've known Zavala a long time, you know. He was one of the first people to greet me when I arrived at the Tower all those years ago—though I suppose "greet" may be too soft a word. It implies a sort of friendliness, a warmth. And Zavala... if you've never met him? He can be a bit stern. He's hardened further since the Red War, I'm sorry to see—though I suppose we all have, to some degree. In any case, that very first meeting left a sour taste in my mouth. I hate to admit that I avoided Zavala when I could after that—though sometimes he makes himself unavoidable.
It wasn't long after this meeting that I celebrated my first Dawning at the Tower. Everyone's spirits were high, and it was so nice to see the people I had come to care about smiling and toasting each other. I remember Tess and I had just finished with a bit of decorating, and she had left to get something when Zavala began heading my way. "Oh no," I thought. "Oh no, not this man." Ah, but he came over anyway, so I smiled and wished him a Happy Dawning—because I DID wish good things for him. It is often the sternest among us who hold the saddest hearts.
He wished me the same, and then—I almost couldn't believe it—he smiled! We exchanged some brief pleasantries, and… I don't remember what I said that brought this on, but suddenly he said, "Oh, that reminds me of a joke!"
A joke! At first I thought I must have heard him wrong, because the Titan Vanguard had always struck me as the "no time for joking" sort. But he had barely begun telling this story before I noticed how much more relaxed his posture was. It seemed the spirit of the Dawning had reached even this stone man.
I remember only pieces of the joke these days—I believe it had to do with a Guardian and a Fallen Captain?—but I clearly remember that he stumbled over the first few words and had to start again. I gave the warmest smile I could to encourage him, and he went on to tell one of the longest, most awkward jokes I have ever heard. And listen, I loved every minute of it. Truly, I couldn't have been happier. Oh, I clapped and laughed along with what I swear was real, true joy from Zavala. To have such a guarded soul open like that—few things are more beautiful. I admired him so in that moment, that he could push himself beyond the boundaries he'd held himself to. I remember hoping that I could someday be so brave in my own way. For the first time, I didn't just respect him as one of the City leaders. For the first time, I felt real, genuine affection for Zavala, the person. Zavala, my friend.
He has been dear to my heart ever since.
Tradition is Bigger Than You
When Tess told me that the frames had organized the Dawning in the new Tower while I was all the way out at the Farm, I thought, how could they do it without me? Then I said, Eva, these traditions are bigger than you. They live in the hearts and minds of the people who have passed them on, generation after generation!
Now I am back in the Tower, helping to create the loveliest Dawning celebration yet. And I carry on a tradition I am sure to repeat every year: I ask Ikora to make the Dawning Crystal, and I ask until she does it.
I make an appointment to discuss the decorations, but I know she's always very busy with urgent Vanguard business. That is why, when I approach her alcove and hear low voices, I don't barge right in; I just peek a little bit.
Ikora is muttering—she sounds almost angry. "Dawning decorations! I've got no time for frivolous…"
A male voice says, "It is not 'frivolous.' People need this. I understand that it's hard for you because it's the first Dawning without Cay—"
"Stop talking, Ophiuchus. Right now." I do not see who Ikora is talking to or recognize this name, but Ikora's voice is sharp. "I have other concerns. What about the latest reports out of the Tangled Shore? I don't know what to make of them. And my Hidden have reported trouble brewing closer to home…" I notice her eyes drift across the main passageway, to a secluded nook with a partially closed gate.
"Yes, Ikora. But—"
"And there's never any word from Osiris. Not that I expect it, but…" She shakes her head.
"With respect, why not just message him?"
"Perhaps. I just don't have the time to…" She pauses. "Eva Levante!"
I make sure to tread loudly and rustle my sheaf of Dawning Crystal designs as I enter (why have her think I was eavesdropping?). Ikora watches me, her arms crossed. Her Ghost hovers by her ear, whirring with alertness.
"Happy Dawning, Ikora Rey!" I begin. She can tell by my big bright smile and the firm way I spread out the designs for her to pick from that it will go faster if she says yes. She respects our tradition, though; she says no twice, then she says fine, Eva, fine. She does not believe the crystal matters, though; she avoids my gaze, but her Ghost—I see his eye blink at me.
The design she promises to make is exquisite.
We agree to meet again when she finishes it. I join her in the Bazaar while running errands with my assistant Malia—so many last-minute tasks! When we march up, Ikora and her Ophiuchus are huddled together. She keeps shaking her head. But still she lifts her arms, and suddenly an enormous Dawning Crystal winks into being in the skies above the Tower, like a million diamonds suspended in air.
Malia gasps. She has never been so high in the Tower, nor seen the Dawning Crystal up close; only from the City far below. She drops all the packages she was carrying.
The Warlock Vanguard helps Malia pick them up, piling one parcel on top of another until she realizes Malia is still as stone, kneeling, watching her, watching her hands that had kindled light from air. The poor girl's scarred face is slick with tears, and she wipes them with her sleeve, but the tears will not stop. Malia's family escaped the City during the Red War, you see; though they survived and have a home again, there have never been many beautiful things in their lives.
Malia touches Ikora's arm and mouths a thank-you. Her cheeks flush red as a pincushion.
Then I kneel too (a bit slowly nowadays) to take the packages from Ikora—all but one, bound in golden ribbon and embossed with an open eye encircled by a sun. I nod and press it into her hands. Then I hear that Ghost of Ikora's whisper, "I told you so," and Ikora reply, "So you did."
Traveler Donut Holes:
Dawning Before the Dawning
Amanda once told me that her mother, Nora, came from desert people, in a place far, far from here. Nora had been on the road since she was a girl, sometimes with nothing more than an old scribbled map and that shotgun of hers. She didn't need much, but she did need people. Nora met Amanda's father in some half-abandoned village, and when she told him about the Last Safe City, well, he followed her. They had no family but themselves. They picked up fellow refugees on the way. Lost others.
Then they had their precious little girl. It must have been a slow, slow road—first with a little baby, then with a young child. But they believed. They had hope. They pushed on.
Amanda told me about one particular Dawning they had shared out in the wilds. They had fallen in with another family that had a child, Lucia, a bit older than little Amanda. They were agreeable travel companions. They found themselves in the thick of the forest, with the wind wailing, a storm coming down, branches flying… and realized they had to stay put.
So, they find the wreckage of a dropship, lean up a wing and crumpled siding, and squeeze all the grown-ups and the two little ones into the dry space under the rusted hull.
Then Amanda's mother says, "We'll be here a while. Might as well do something to keep our spirits up."
She sends the adults out foraging for something to eat, something to drink, and something to keep dry. Amanda's father comes back with long-leaved plants to weave into mats. Their companions return with full water flasks, some prickly fruit, and a dozen or so wild vegetables like cucumbers. With dried fish from their packs, it is quite the feast.
As the adults are working, Lucia is curling the rinds from the fruit into little flowers, but little Amanda is kicking her legs, restless. "Make yourself useful; make some decorations," Amanda's mother urges her. She hands Amanda wires and nuts and bolts and a circuit board full of little lights.
Lucia comes jumping, an old battery in her hand. Together the girls make miniature garlands of tiny bulbs. And Lucia shows Amanda how to touch the wires to the battery to make them light up. Bright little lights in the vast dark forest.
Amanda told me about the fruit, with soft white flesh and a sour taste. She told me about how they sang made-up songs together with no words, just humming and tapping out a beat on the metal walls of their shelter.
She doesn't know what the fruit was. Maybe it does not exist anymore. The other family? They got separated from Amanda's people. Later on, Amanda's parents… gone, like so many others on the road to the Last Safe City.
But Amanda Holliday still makes the lights, you know. Uses spare odds and ends to decorate her workshop. She does it every Dawning.
Chocolate Ship Cookies:
It's the Feeling That Counts
Some residents of the Tower have been around very long indeed. The Guardians, the Exos, the old Iron Lord—they have seen Dawning after Dawning. Even before the Tower began observing the holiday as we now know it, there were those who would always celebrate with similar ceremonies of light and hope. Sometimes these memories blend together. But the feeling… the feeling remains.
This Dawning season—last week? the week before? I can't even remember, haha!—one of my suppliers tells me they had two of my boxes delivered to the Gunsmith by mistake. So, I go to see Banshee-44 to sort it all out.
The Exo has no recollection of a delivery. But he recognizes me, and I notice his eyes glow a teensy bit brighter. "Must be about the Dawning," he mumbles, and he turns on his heel and heads straight to some shelves at the back. He returns with two big boxes.
"These them?" he asks.
We open the first one up. Inside, we find a very, very old box of chocolates. Many different portable kits for cleaning weapons. A copy of "Hunter of the Heart" (I know this novel, but it is not for everyone). A necklace with a bullet pendant, tucked with care into a little box. Stacks and stacks of Dawning greeting cards.
I shake my head gently. "Those are presents people have given YOU for the Dawning, Banshee!"
The Gunsmith blinks a couple of times. Then, he closes the carton—I worry he should have thrown away the chocolates, but maybe next year—and then turns to the other one on the counter. He lifts the cover.
It is full of Dawning gifts, wrapped in brightly colored paper and tied with glittery ribbon. Some are in tiny boxes, but some are guns, of course. They are all meticulously labeled.
"I think these are the presents you are giving out to friends this year, no?" I ask with a wink.
Banshee gives one brisk nod as he turns over the labels, reading them. I observe that some have detailed instructions. The Exo shrugs.
"Got in the habit of writing everything down. Sometimes I… I don't always remember." He waves the thought away. "Right."
"I still need my supplies? The boxes I came to get?" I nudge him.
He tilts his head a moment and finally raises a finger. "Oh. I know where they are."
But before he takes away his boxes, I tap the covers. "You should label them. 'Old Dawning Gifts.' 'New Dawning Gifts—To Be Delivered.'" He nods at me and scribbles on the lids.
"I never forget my friends for the Dawning," he makes sure to tell me as he hands me my packages.
"I'm very glad. Happy Dawning, Banshee!" I reply, squeezing his arm.
I do hope he remembers to get rid of those chocolates.
Our Choices Define Us
Sometimes, when I face something frightening, I think of the strongest people I know and draw strength from them. Suraya Hawthorne is one of those people. I know her brusque attitude can be off-putting, and that's intentional on her part. But once you get past that, there is so much to learn.
She was orphaned as a young girl, and Devrim and Marc took her in. Honestly, I think having these two as role models is part of why she's as strong as she is. They raised her to be sure of herself and to always do what she thought was right… even though that ultimately led to her having to leave the City.
As Suraya tells it, she came home one day to find Marc and Devrim sitting at the kitchen table, as though expecting her. They had her sit down, then asked if there was anything she wanted to tell them.
She shook her head. "Nope."
Marc asked her to try again, but she was silent, so he told her that Executor Hideo had stopped by their home. She asked how he was.
"You know how he is," Devrim said. "Tell us what happened."
"His face got in the way."
Marc took a deep breath and said Hideo claimed to have caught her stealing supplies that morning, and did she have anything to say about that? She did not.
He reminded her that stealing supplies and breaking a faction leader's nose were both good ways to get kicked out of the City, and Suraya could keep quiet no longer. She almost shouted her explanation: The factions didn't care about the people who needed food and supplies—the people who could not pledge to a faction because they were too busy struggling to survive. She wanted to help them, so she would sometimes steal supplies from New Monarchy.
Devrim asked, "What about Hideo?"
Suraya rolled her eyes and groaned, explained that when Hideo had found her, he'd said all manner of nasty, evil things to her: She was worthless, she was nothing, things like that.
Devrim agreed Hideo was… well, I won't repeat it, but suffice to say it means "an unpleasant person." He held a lot of influence, though, and he was insisting Suraya be punished. Harshly. For Suraya's part, this seemed to crystallize something. She tells me that's the first time she knew she wanted to leave the City—that perhaps this had been part of why she'd punched Hideo. She told her guardians and they couldn't believe it.
They were quiet for a bit. Then Devrim broke the silence. "Well, let's get packed."
"No," she said. "Absolutely not." She was not about to let her decisions hurt these men who had taken her in and cared for her. They'd done nothing wrong.
Oh, they fought her. As she tells it, they argued a long time, until finally, she shrugged and said, "If you try to come with me, I'll run away."
She suspected they knew there was no bluff to call, as they spoke now in tired, worried voices, making their case one last time. Suraya was adamant. "I won't let you suffer for my choices." What could they do?
She asked when she had to leave. Marc said he could hold off Hideo for a day or two so they could all make a plan. His voice became stern again, and he said, "You're going somewhere close enough that we can come and check on you as often as we like. At least for a while. That is nonnegotiable."
He had no negotiating power, of course. But Suraya had agreed. She stayed very near the City for over a year before saying proper goodbyes and heading out further into the world.
Suraya Hawthorne is, in my mind, the definition of doing what you think is right regardless of the consequences. She knew it was right to help struggling families, she knew it was right to not put Devrim and Marc in harm's way, and she knew it was right to give them some peace of mind by staying close. That is the kind of true courage I have always admired.
Oh, Devrim. Who can meet Devrim and say they don't like him? He looks out for others and helps anyone who asks. I saw him many times after I made my way back to the Farm. He'd come by from time to time, to check in on everyone and make sure everything was going all right. We even sat down to tea a few times. Such a kind, sincere soul. We need more of those, you know.
We talked many times about the war, and he tried so hard to convince me to arm myself. "You've seen what's out there," he would say, as though I might have forgotten.
We argued about it time and time again. I had jobs that didn't require fighting, I would explain, and that was intentional. My strongest contributions lay elsewhere, and I meant to keep my focus there.
I remember one conversation in particular where Devrim was absolutely adamant. "Eva!" he finally said, louder than I think he meant to. His eyes were urgent, almost angry, as they locked on mine. "This isn't some 'what if' situation. You've already had to defend yourself. It stands to reason you'll have to again. The Cabal aren't backing down, and they're not the only threat. To know all that and still not even try to protect yourself… it's irresponsible."
Yes, I had defended myself. And I had hated everything about it.
"Devrim." I kept my voice soft, but my words clear. "The fighting, the shooting, the mayhem—that's not what I want to be part of. I've seen enough. If it comes for me again—and I agree, it could—then so be it. I want to be part of the healing. I want to be part of what builds us back up. Don't we need that?"
Poor Devrim finally stopped trying to convince me. He never stopped checking in, though. Old habits, as they say.
When I finally came back to the Tower, though, what do you think was waiting for me? The Dawning festival was just beginning, and the Postmaster had a package for me. Inside, a beautiful sidearm—ornate design, antique coloring—and a note. From Devrim, of course.
At first I was indignant—after all our conversations! I had half a mind to simply throw this gun away. Instead, I read the note.
"Eva, my friend!
I was sorry to hear you'd left the Farm after all, but very glad to know you'll be among dear friends. In that spirit, and in the spirit of the Dawning, I wanted to offer you this gift. This has been passed down through my family for generations. It's a Kay family heirloom—and before you throw it away, you should know that it doesn't fire. I thought this might be a nice compromise, and I hope you'll accept it.
I hope the Tower treats you well, old friend.
I read the note a few more times, then folded it and put it in my pocket.
I looked down once more at this beautiful heirloom—a symbol of friendship, of family—and reflected on the fact that somehow, despite everything, I'd managed to rediscover both.
The Dawning on the Stormy Seas
Every Dawning, I receive many greeting cards from customers. The ones I treasure the most contain stories about how people all across our solar system observe the holiday. One of my favorite letters came from someone who was a customer of mine but once: Lady Sloane, Stoneborn out on Titan, one of Saturn's moons.
"First, thanks for the delivery; all the requisitions arrived in perfect condition, and you did a great job packaging up the chicken (more on that later). We tried decorating the railings outside our Command Center with the garlands, but the Fallen have been using the lights for target practice. I guess we'll be getting some more next year and prettying up the break room instead. A couple of the Dawning lanterns got whipped away in the wind, too—we're not known for our clement weather out here on the methane seas.
"Some Guardians who've been helping me out on Titan mentioned that you like to hear about Dawning traditions outside the City, so here's how we celebrate on this moon we call home.
"This year, I let the crew off duty early, 1600 hours, and took a whole hour off myself so we could have ourselves a little Dawning soirée in our Command Center.
"Siren's Watch has got quite a view of the waves and some floating platforms, so we pushed our break room tables together, end to end, and looked out at the horizon while we shared a communal feast. Seeing as the room is exposed to the elements (the glass view window broke long ago, but repairing it just hasn't been a priority), Del and Ari had to bundle up—and we had to weigh the tablecloth down with chunks of metal. I've had worse setups.
"Eva, it was the best meal I've had in ages. That chicken? Delicious. Every one of us got to try a piece. We cut our protein rations into fun shapes, and once we got your taffy warmed up enough to chew, it was heaven.
"We exchanged Dawning gifts as well. Somebody even cross-stitched me an 'inspirational quote' to hang in my quarters ('Where's my beacon?'; it's an in-joke). Decent tools, Heavy ammo, thick socks—those are the kinds of gifts that change hands out here. Maybe that doesn't impress people accustomed to the Dawning in the Tower, but those presents have worth to us.
"When we joined hands afterward, whether for warmth or just conviviality, we got to talking in a way we never really had before. I don't think I've ever voluntarily shared stories about myself in my life! We talked about who we were before the Red War, where we came from, and even where we might want to go in the future.
"It's not easy here on this storm-tossed moon—one jolt and you're tumbling off a platform into eternity. Between the Fallen and the Hive and the elements, we're always just struggling to stay alive. But as we sat there chatting, we FELT alive.
"I guess I wrote all this just to say thank you, Eva, for reminding us to take a moment to appreciate and rejoice, no matter what. I find that inspiring.
I have never left Earth, and Titan sounds like a… very interesting place. But reading how this holiday has brought people together in such faraway places, I feel all my efforts have been worth it.
I hope to see Sloane again someday.
Alkane Dragée Cookies:
Celebrate Each Other
I had heard of the Exodus colony ships before. I didn't remember much about them—just one of those names from history lessons that sticks with you. To tell you the truth, I had forgotten about it until more recently, when some Guardians told me they found one of them crashed on Nessus—and explained what had happened to its Failsafes.
I understand they were originally one AI—the ship's navigational intelligence—but with time, they separated. It sounds to me like one of them is always happy, and the other is always sad. That's no way to live for either of them. These things must exist in balance. I know they're computers, but I worry for them.
One Guardian in particular spoke to me recently of the time he told the Failsafes about the Dawning festival. He had just turned some bounties in to them and mentioned that he was excited to get back to Earth to participate in the festivities. They stopped him and asked him to explain what that meant—they had never heard of the Dawning! He said something to the effect of, "It's a winter celebration that combines several old Earth traditions."
They responded—I will try to word this exactly as he did, since he prided himself on his imitation of them—they responded by the happy one saying, "According to my database, Earth's 'winter' occurs when one hemisphere is oriented away from the sun! Why do you celebrate being cold?" Then the sad one said, "I mean, I can't feel cold, but it sounds awful."
So this Guardian said something like, "It's more that we're celebrating each other," which I love, because that is how I've always thought of it as well. We're all here together, eating sweets and being with each other.
The Failsafes asked a few more questions and then the happy one said, "If we are celebrating each other, how can I participate in the Dawning? I am all alone. It is very depressing!" The sad one said, "I'm not gonna celebrate the Fallen."
My Guardian friend thought quickly and said, "You can wish every Guardian that comes out to Nessus a happy Dawning! Celebrate with us! We would love that."
That seemed to cheer both of them up a bit, so I'm glad he thought to say it. Apparently, they practiced wishing him a happy Dawning for the better part of an hour, so I expect they're quite good at it now. Go visit them if you have a chance. Being far from the City shouldn't stop anyone from having a pleasant Dawning.
Infinite Forest Cake:
A Cautionary Tale
"Eva Levante!" Ikora caught my wrist and leaned in to whisper. "I need to speak with you about Eris Morn."
Ah, I will never forget that day. Way back then, I was very busy getting the Vanguard and the other Tower vendors excited about the Dawning. In turn, many reached out to me about anything related to the holiday. Still, I was surprised that the Warlock Vanguard would seek me out—and to talk about Eris Morn, of all people!
I might have shuddered in spite of myself.
"I saw you chatting with her as you were getting the decorations set up…"
What I recalled was Eris talking at me about abysses while I was trying to hang lanterns, but I did not want to say that to Ikora.
She continued, "I am worried about her. She seems quite depressed."
I flicked my eyes up at Ikora and then looked away. To my credit, I did not snort.
"She's even more morose than usual, and the technicians in the Hall of Guardians are complaining. Eva, could you talk to her? Perhaps… get her to help you out? Surely you could use an extra set of hands."
A terrible idea, but again, I could not say so. Instead I suggested, "Perhaps she has a friend—well, maybe not a 'friend'—but somebody she likes to talk to, someone who she has something in common with…" I trailed off, remembering who we were speaking of.
"I don't!" I said brightly. "But I hope it goes well; I want everybody to have a happy Dawning. Now if you'll excuse me, I do have deliveries to make."
I wasn't yet familiar enough with Ikora to squeeze her arm in farewell, so I nodded and made my escape.
But when I crossed paths with her again later that day, what a look she gave me! "I talked to Asher, as you suggested," she muttered.
"He grumbled at first. He seemed unaware that the Dawning was taking place, in fact. But I explained, and when I told him it would be… very well regarded if he wrote her a Dawning greeting card or went to visit her, he said he could write a card. He also said he had a Dawning gift for her."
"Oh! How kind!"
"I'm not so sure," she sighed and produced a piece of parchment.
It was folded in four to form a greeting card. Nothing on the cover, but inside was written, "Eris, the Warlock Vanguard has approached me about 'cheering you up' for a holiday that is going on. I shall seize this serendipitous opportunity to send you the research notes you demanded of me on heretical practices among the Hive, however spurious the grounds for your request. Warmest wishes to you this Dawning! —Asher Mir"
"Did you dictate that last part to him, Ikora?"
She paused for a moment. "Yes."
I laughed. "Well, you had better take it to her. I wouldn't call Hive research a traditional Dawning present, but she did request it."
Ikora shook her head wearily, and we parted ways.
Later that same day, as I was about to head out on my last round of deliveries, Ikora approached me yet again.
She told me, "I went to see Eris. I don't know if she's any more cheerful, although she did say, 'Ah yes, I had been expecting these notes for some time now. Good.' She even wrote a Dawning message back to Asher."
Ikora handed me back the same piece of parchment that her scribe colleague had used, but it had been refolded. I read, "Asher: Take heed not to succumb to the whispers, as fools do. Warmest wishes to you this Dawning! —Eris Morn"
The Warlock cleared her throat. "Eris also had a Dawning gift for me to pass on to Asher."
"At least she's making an effort."
"Well…" Ikora hauled me aside and took out a small, lumpy packet wrapped in cloth. She peeled back the layers of tissue with care. And there it was. The Dawning gift glowed with a sickly green luminescence.
"I can't give this to him!" Ikora hissed. "I can just..." She looked around for eavesdroppers. "...get rid of it, right?"
"This is beyond a question of Dawning etiquette," I whispered back.
She nodded, her face set. "Let us never speak of this again."
Say it with a Dawning Gift
It's not only my customers who keep me running about. People are always coming to me for advice. Sometimes it's "This shader or that?" and "Does this mark look OK on me?" Sometimes it's "Should I hold a Dawning party?" or "Why should I go to their Dawning party?" But sometimes the questions are even more complicated.
I was stealing a moment of quiet one afternoon to organize all the jumbled rolls of wrapping paper, when I heard a resonant voice calling to me. How I jumped!
It was… a certain well-known Titan—not Zavala, but I will not tell you who. Eva Levante does not tattle about sensitive matters.
He was carrying a formidable piece of weaponry, a complicated curve of many metal parts with a thick string connecting the ends. "It's a compound bow," he explained, following my stare. "For shooting arrows." I raised my eyebrows in puzzlement.
On that weapon, he had placed a large pouf of red velvet ribbon. A bow on a bow.
I could tell from the tilt of his helmet and his taut grip on the weapon that something was amiss.
I sighed. I saw this a few times every Dawning. I suspected he was smitten, and this would not be a short conversation.
"Warmest Dawning greetings to you, Torito!" (That is not his actual name, naturally; it is a made-up name.)
"Eva Levante. They say you should give a Dawning gift when you… have a special friend," he boomed, trying to whisper.
"Who is 'they'?" I laughed.
He ignored me. "I bought my friend this bow. Is it a good gift?"
"It all depends on your friend. What do they like? What ARE they like? Can you describe them?"
"She… likes to fight. She is regal. She is very…" The Titan paused. "Is a recurve bow more romantic than a compound bow?" (He managed to whisper this time.)
"Ahhh," I nodded knowingly. I wouldn't know the difference between those weapons, but I understood his problem.
"But maybe a book would be better?" he asked.
"Again, it depends which book you choose."
"I have read Ikora's 'On Circles: Revised Edition,' and it was very good."
"That is a terrible Dawning gift. Might I suggest literature?"
Torito tapped the horn on his helmet to reflect. "I did destroy a book of hers once. Should I replace it?"
"Maybe you should not remind her of a bad thing happening…"
He didn't reply to this, so I went on, "Perhaps this bow is already the right Dawning gift for your friend. Do you think she would use it?"
"Well, then," I smiled, "you have your answer. Happy Dawning to you and your friend both!"
"And to you, Eva. I hope your Dawning is one to remember."
Then the Titan thanked me, hefted the bow, and strode off.
No Such Thing as Coincidence
I always seem to get a customer with many questions right as things get busiest, in the late afternoon. Today it was a woman. A beautiful, sturdy Guardian with dark, cropped hair and a diagonal stripe of white across each eye—very striking! She had a satchel slung over one shoulder and a stack of books and packages cradled in one arm. By this, I guessed she was a paying customer. She also had a cheeky curl to her lip and a hand on her hip, and she tap-tap-tapped her fingers as she waited. By this, I guessed she was a Hunter.
"Happy Dawning, Miss…?" I greeted her.
She launched right in. "Can you help me put together a really small, intimate Dawning celebration? Do you have, like, a kit or something?" she asked, peering back over her shoulder with impatience. "It's a surprise for… somebody who's used to the Dawning in the City, only now we're all the way over on Mars, so…"
"Ah! Well, the Dawning basics are decorations, shared food, and gifts. First: you have a choice of lanterns"—I pointed to the colorful spheres lining the shop—"and candles"—I produced a box of tea candles from under the counter and thumped it down in front of her—"and streamers."
"Candles and streamers are a fire hazard. I'll take candles and lanterns."
"Silver and yellow lanterns go well together…"
She squinted up at my display. "Purple."
"I'll give you purple, green, and silver. That's a pretty combination. The Dawning is about wonder and beauty, so you don't buy just one lantern." I stacked the accordioned lanterns on top of the candles.
She opened her mouth and then shut it again. I pulled out my biggest assortment of Dawning treats and placed it on the counter. "Sharing and generosity are the heart of the Dawning. This collection is the one you want"—here I paused—"if you want to impress someone you love."
She pursed her lips and pushed the beribboned package of sweets next to the candles and lanterns.
Smiling, I pulled over a rack of my finer garments. "Finally, the Dawning gift: the most important—"
"Oh, I've already got a good Dawning gift." She put her belongings on the counter to point out the necklace box on top. I also happened to scan the spines of the thick books, some with very long titles, all labeled, "Fu'an Library – REFERENCE – DO NOT REMOVE."
The Hunter noticed my frown and shoved the books into her satchel. "Here's what I picked. Think she'll like it?"
I didn't know who 'she' was. But I admired the necklace she was showing off: an elongated pendant with an emblem of a little bird, of exquisite workmanship.
She grinned, "That design is Golden Age, but the pendant also holds thirty-five petabytes of data!"
I returned her smile. I also convinced her to buy a sturdy book bag and purple wrapping paper.
"There! Your own personal Dawning in a bag!" I said, tucking away her Glimmer and handing over her purchases. "I hope your companion enjoys the surprise."
The Hunter bobbed her head in thanks and turned to go.
Who did I see then but Commander Zavala, standing arms akimbo in the corridor as the press of the afternoon shopping crowd flowed around him.
"Zavala," muttered the Hunter. She pushed her shoulders back and thrust out her chin; she looked fierce as a falcon.
"Happy Dawning, Ana. I'm surprised to see you in the Tower."
"Yeah, well, I had errands…"
But I missed what else they said, because someone ran up with a package, asking, "Hey, did I hear that woman was headed back to Mars? This one's going there, too."
I ran my eyes down the packing list: candles, lanterns, candy assortment, wrapping paper, cloak… Ordered by a Camrin Dumuzi. I got a funny feeling, it was such a coincidence…
"I think this is meant to be a surprise. The package can wait for tomorrow's deliveries," I replied.
When I looked back, Zavala and the Hunter were deep in conversation, the Titan Vanguard wearing a half smile and the woman smirking. By this, I guessed that the Dawning spirit was uniting old friends.
And with that, I turned to my next customer.
A Friendly Face
Have you ever met someone who immediately rubbed you the wrong way? They can appear very friendly—but it's always a particular type of friendly. The different varieties can be hard to recognize when you're young, but with time, you'll see them all. The rarest form is genuine kindness, though there is also "fair weather" friendly, "I want something" friendly, and "look how friendly I am" friendly. That last one is always hiding something, and they hope their performance covers it up.
This last group is also where we find that man who calls himself the Drifter. I do not like to speak ill of others, but him? Him I do not trust.
I don't really know what he does out beyond that gate, and I'm not sure I want to know. I've spoken to him only a couple of times. He always seems like he's in a rush.
The one conversation we've had beyond our introduction was very short, and he slinked away before I could get any answers. It was right before the start of the Dawning festival. I was getting my decorations set up as he walked up to my booth and asked, "Well, what's all this?"
"Surely you know of the Dawning?" I said—not in a rude way, but in a friendly way. "I know you're a snake" friendly.
"Oh, of course," he said. "I guess I'd forgotten it was gettin' to be that season. Time just goes right on by, don't it, sister? Right on by." He looked up at the decorations for a long time, hands on his hips and nodding approvingly.
"It certainly can," I said. "Actually, I wanted to ask—"
"You know," he said, "I don't know that I've been anywhere that actually celebrated the Dawning. Why don't you tell me a thing or two?"
I may not be centuries old, my friend, but I am no naïve child either. Old Eva knows a lie when she hears it. I spent a bit of time telling him about our festival anyway, explaining our traditions and the meanings behind them. He nodded along, seemingly very attentive. I tried to bring the conversation back to him.
"So, Drifter, where are you—"
"Well, best be on my way!" he said, pretending not to hear me as he backed up. "I've taken up enough of your time—who knows how much any of us has left." As he walked off, he tossed back, "Like the décor! Good colors!" then disappeared around a corner.
I've heard other people talk about this strange man. They mostly say the same things: very friendly, if a little mysterious. On the other hand, I've also heard some things I won't repeat—they're far too gruesome to be true, and I won't facilitate spreading false rumors. I'm sure his eating habits are no different from yours or mine.
Suffice to say, something is off about him. I'd recommend keeping an eye on him.
Dark Chocolate Motes:
A Tale Twice Told
What I have loved most since coming back to the Tower is reconnecting with everyone. I missed my friends while I was away, and I thought about them every day. Even when you're doing what you know is right, it can be hard not to wish for times past.
I've wanted so much to catch up on everything I missed, but these Guardians are so busy, always flitting in and out. You can barely get a word out of them most of the time. I feel like so much has happened, but I get only drips of information.
"Spider" is a name I hear over and over, but who is he? A common criminal? A deity? A friend? Some accounts paint him as all three. What is it about this Spider fellow that compels these Guardians so?
And do I have it right that he feeds on Ghosts? Ghosts! What an utterly despicable practice. Even the most detestable Ghost doesn't deserve that kind of treatment. (Yes, I am thinking of one in particular, but… I'm afraid old Eva will keep that secret to herself.)
From what I can put together, this Spider fellow had a group of Barons, I think. If that's correct, his relationship with them seemed… tenuous. I don't know what one gets up to on this Tangled Shore, but I think he had them all killed.
Before that, though, Spider's Barons broke into some kind of high-security prison out in space. They were looking for… something belonging to Spider. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was Ghosts or maybe it was weapons—although why he'd have someone look for those things in a prison, I don't know. While his Barons were in there, the prisoners started to fight them. That rascal Cayde-6 was also in the prison, on a mission that I don't think was related to Spider's mission. They ended up in the same fight, though, from what it sounds like. Then, while everyone was fighting, the Reef Queen's brother arrived!
When I first heard this story, at this point I thought to myself, "Oh, good! Finally someone on our side. The Awoken Prince will help get things in order." Now, keep in mind that I had always heard he was… a bit stiff. But also that he was willing to help when it came down to it. That was before his sister, though. Loss can do terrible, ugly things to us.
This leads me to the only detail I know with absolute certainty: Uldren Sov killed Cayde-6.
I don't know why, but I suspect it was in part because the Prince succumbed to the pain in his heart and lost the ability to see things as they are. Anyway, once Spider's Barons left the prison, they ran all over the Reef. I guess they had found what Spider was looking for, but decided to keep those things for themselves. This Spider sent people after the Barons, and I don't think any of the Barons survived.
While all this was going on, someone killed Uldren. I assume it was revenge for Cayde, but I can't get anyone to tell me with certainty who did it. Based on everything else I hear about this Spider, I wonder if Uldren wasn't also his work.
Many of my Guardian friends are still doing favors for this… creature who, at best, betrays his own people. I am not sure that road leads anywhere good. Though perhaps I don't have the whole truth.
This is no history lesson. Take it however you will. Some people just don't have time to talk to old Eva, it seems.
Candy Dead Ghosts:
What Makes Us One
What are the Awoken?
Not in the sense of "how did they come to be?" I don't care about that any more than about how the Cabal or the Fallen came to be. As far as I'm concerned, the universe decided it wanted them, and so it made them. Who am I to question the universe?
I've heard people talk about Petra Venj and the Tangled Shore lately. It's very confusing—roped-together rocks? And you just… jump between them? It's no wonder that Reefborn Awoken are so often suspicious of others if they grow up unable to even trust the ground!
But the Awoken as a whole… I feel like my grasp of them has certainly grown, but there are things I still don't understand. They are certainly part of what we consider "humanity," just as much as Humans or Exos. I know this and believe it, but what makes it so?
Is it because they are… made… like we are? The Cabal are built roughly as we are, but we do not consider them part of humanity.
Is it our shared relationship with the Traveler? As hard as it is to believe, I have heard the Fallen had a relationship with the Traveler. But they are not part of humanity.
Does "humanity" consider only those who choose to walk among Humans? But by that logic, Reefborn Awoken who remain in the Reef are not part of humanity. I don't believe that's true, and yet…
Petra has spent most of her life in the Reef, hasn't she? I know she was here playing Emissary for a while, but she has always considered the Reef her true home. Would she describe herself as part of humanity? I think if you walked up to Petra and asked, "Are you a member of humanity?" she would respond, "I am an Awoken of the Reef." If you pressed her further and asked, "Yes, but which side are you on?" I believe she would say, "The side of Queen Mara Sov."
So then is humanity something we choose? Or is it ascribed to you? Is it a title to be earned or a birthright, a heritage? Are the Awoken part of humanity due to one of these stipulations, or—
Could it be that the Awoken are part of humanity because of ALL of these stipulations? Individually, these ideas don't define humanity any more than a cloak defines a Hunter, but COLLECTIVELY—that they are built as we are, that they share our relationship with the Traveler, and that many of them gladly walk among us here on Earth… Maybe THAT is what makes them part of humanity—everything bound together, just as we are all bound together.
That togetherness is what helped us win the Red War, and I truly believe it will help us push back the Darkness for good. Never forget that our unity is what makes us strong, and the Awoken will always be part of that.
You Get Used to Him
There is a strange fellow who… well, perhaps you've seen him. He doesn't really come and go as you or I might traditionally think. It's more that you turn around, and he is either there or he is not. His appearances are steady and predictable, at least. He's called Xûr. I'm not sure why one draws the tiny arrow over his name, but it's important to try and respect the wishes of those we don't understand.
The first time I ever saw Xûr, I was by myself at my stall in the Tower. The Old Tower, I suppose you'd call it now. I hadn't been there long at all. I looked up, and this man had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere! His back was to me, but even from behind, something seemed off about him. Something in his posture. As he started to turn, I noticed his whole face appeared to be covered in hair. It even seemed to be moving, gently flowing on its own—but there was no wind.
When the light hit his face, I screamed and ducked down behind part of my cabinets. I was sure this abomination had come to invade us, that more of them were just out of sight, that we were done for.
Eventually, I realized no one else was screaming. I heard no sounds of distress. I peeked out and saw that everyone was going about their business. No one was panicking but me! Many people saw him—several were interacting with him.
Slowly, I stood back up and tried to go about my business—though I rarely looked away. Tess came over before too long, and I asked her about the strange figure.
"Oh, that's Xûr!" she said, unconcerned. "He comes through every so often and sells particular, hard-to-find things." She considered him for a moment, then added, "Could do with a bit of a wardrobe update, if you ask me, but he's otherwise harmless."
"What is he?" I asked. "I've never seen a creature like that before."
"Xûr is… I believe he's called a Jovian. They're from out beyond even the Reef. I'm afraid I don't know much else about them."
"But they're… friendly?"
"Well, they don't attack us, if that's what you mean. I don't know that I'd call Xûr friendly, but he's not hostile."
I felt more at ease after our conversation, though I still could not shake my fear. For many months, I jumped every time I saw him and had to fight back the instinct to hide.
Eventually, I grew used to his presence. I even began to appreciate his predictability—it became a symbol that everything was functioning as it should. The fear evaporated with time.
I have often found that my first reaction to new things is fear. Perhaps it is this way for everyone. However, I have also found that if I accept and acknowledge my fear, it is easier to push through until I am no longer afraid. The new thing has almost never been as frightening as I first feared.
I don't know very much about the prophecies of the controversial Warlock, Osiris. I know that his theories divided the Tower, civilians and Guardians alike, and I've seen that division spring up in strange places, even years after Osiris left to pursue his radical research.
Here is a joke for you, my friend:
A follower of Osiris and a skeptic sit down at a table to work out their differences. They die there.
Don't ask me where I heard that. But don't be surprised—if you think the people of the City don't poke fun at you Guardians now and again, you're not paying attention.
I heard rumors about Brother Vance, one of Osiris's followers. The rumors started like myths: how he might use the knowledge discovered by Osiris to perform miracles or to raise Guardians to their full potential. Then, for a reason I couldn't see myself, the rumors changed: Vance was a fanatic unacquainted with Osiris, left waiting endlessly on the sands of Mercury for something that would never come.
Guardians are so full of action. I think they couldn't empathize with such passivity.
As for me, I think we should believe in things and people we can see for ourselves. What someone does now is better proof of their spirit than what they are fabled to have done. It seems to me that waiting forever for your hero to return, poring over the same books and letters, relying on a hope for the future you cannot control… well. I see it as wasted time.
Then, I tend toward action myself. Busy hands, busy mind.
But I also think it must be lonely and disheartening to be abandoned by your idol, even if that abandonment exists only in your own mind. I imagine a man like Vance holds a lonely vigil. I think, perhaps, he knows what people say about him, and he tries to lift himself above it—and drives himself further into isolation.
But then, I've never met him. I don't know which rumors are true and which are silly gossip. I only know that the Dawning welcomes everyone—especially those who feel the most isolated.
The Good Fight
When Guardians found their way into the Dreaming City, many of them came to tell me about it. Their stories of a beautiful place filled with towering cliffs and ancient, holy buildings were like fairytales to me. As with many of the stories I hear from Guardians, I marveled that such a thing could be real.
I remember, in particular, an Awoken Warlock named Nadya, who came to visit me in the way many Guardians do: quiet, sheepish, hoping for tea.
I always welcome them in for a cup, of course.
That day, Nadya sat at my table with her untouched cup of tea. If I hadn't already spent so much time cheering people up in my kitchen, I might have pressed her, but I knew better. I waited. Eventually, she looked up at me.
"I feel like I found a piece of myself and then lost it, all at once," Nadya said, soft and sad. "I know Guardians aren't meant to look to their heritage beyond the Traveler, but the Dreaming City felt like…" She trailed off.
"Home?" I said.
Nadya lowered her eyes. "Yes. Like home." She was quiet, and then looked at me again. "Is that wrong?"
"No," I said. "Of course not. Home is not always a single place, you know. I've had many homes."
Nadya nodded and pushed her tea cup around on the table, distracted. This time, I had to wait a while before she would speak again. Eventually, she said, "I feel like I'm mourning the loss of something I never really had."
I don't fully understand the curse that plagues the Awoken homeland. I know that it came about through great misunderstanding and peril. I know that Uldren Sov and another creature I have never heard of were at the center of that peril. But, from what I hear, there were no clear enemies in that story. No single place to lay blame.
That can make it so much harder to accept.
Nadya's heartbreak was tangible. I felt it in my own heart. But, even as I saw her suffering, I also saw Nadya stand up and go back to her work. She returned to the Dreaming City, week after week.
I think we are not defined by our successes, but by our ability to keep fighting when the fight seems unwinnable. Not just Guardians. All of us.
Thank you, all of you, for being an example of that spirit.
A Very Nice Young Man
One of my favorite spots in the Tower is a secluded little bench that overlooks the City. I watch the ships coming in, and the birds, and the clouds—I get so busy that it helps to step away for a little while and remind myself of what's outside. The other day, I was sitting on this bench when a very tall Titan stepped up beside me, his hands folded in front of him.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. "Would you mind if I sit here?"
I smiled and shifted over to make room. "Please," I said. He sat. His shoulders were so broad that I had to shift over a little more.
He had a bag of birdseed with him, and I watched as he spread a little of it on the ground. The pigeons came quickly—in fact, I'd noticed a few more than usual the instant he sat down. I wondered to myself how often he came here and how we'd managed to miss each other thus far. He was not an easy man to miss.
The cooing of the pigeons and the far-off bustle of the City were soothing, and seeing as the gentleman seemed to have no trouble with companionable silence, I closed my eyes. After a moment, though, I was aware of footsteps and whispering behind us. A young woman, another Titan, came up to the bench and said to the gentleman, smiling nervously, "It's such an honor to meet you. You're an inspiration to Titans everywhere."
He nodded humbly. "Thank you," he said. They spoke briefly. He asked her name. They talked about how she'd just come back from being stationed on Io for patrol duty. He commended her commitment to keeping the people of the system safe, and then she and her friends left.
My companion went back to feeding the pigeons. After a moment, I asked him, mostly joking, "Are you famous?"
He glanced at me and inclined his head, hesitantly. "A little bit."
"I see," I said, smiling. After a moment, I added, "My name is Eva."
I sat with that answer for a moment and then asked, "Saint-14?" I'd heard the story of how he fought for the City during the Battle of Six Fronts, so long ago, and another more fantastical story about how he'd defeated a powerful Fallen fellow by headbutting him. Anytime I heard that story, I always found myself hoping he had a good, sturdy helmet.
"That's right," he said, spreading a little more birdseed. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Eva."
We sat a little longer together, watching the pigeons and the clouds, before I finally had to excuse myself to go back to my work.
As I said, I'd heard the legend of Saint-14 before. Many legends of remarkable Guardians make them seem like mythical figures, so far removed from anything the civilians of the City will ever see or experience. The legendary Saint-14 does not seem that way to me at all.
In fact, I think he is a very nice young man.
A Note of Warning
The Dawning is a time of great generosity and gift-giving. It feels very good to receive a gift, especially a thoughtful one that was chosen for you by someone you care for. If you approach gift-giving with love and a selfless heart, it deepens your relationship to another person. As I'm sure you know by now, it is as rewarding to give a gift as to receive it.
When you find yourself receiving many gifts, maybe unexpectedly, look to the giver. Have you given them anything? Gift-giving is not score-keeping, but when you are showered with luxurious gifts made of gold, engraved with your name, lavished upon you with great bouts of flattery—stop and think about why you have received them.
Sometimes you should question these gifts. Consider who the gift-giver has favored before. Why you? Why now? If you have no satisfying or reassuring answer to these questions, the chances are good that this gift-giver is carefully tallying your "debts," and will one day move to collect them.
Not all gifts are given freely. Remember that.
That's all, my dear friend. I have no story this time. Just a warning.
A Touch of Style
I met Ada-1 for the first time in the weeks of preparation leading up to the Dawning. She came to me at my stall and lingered off to the side as I spoke to a customer. I could see her out of the corner of my eye: still, silent, and… maybe just slightly nervous.
Perhaps I imagined that.
Once I was through with the customer, I gestured for her to come over to my worktable. She did, paused a moment to watch me with my fabrics, and then asked, "Is the Dawning a Guardian holiday?"
I smiled. I knew from some of my regulars—the sort that were inclined to gossip—that Ada was new to the traditions of the City.
"The Dawning is for everyone," I said. "Everyone in the City and beyond it, if they would like to celebrate."
She was quiet a moment, considering. I could not tell whether she was shy or just one of those solitary people who prefer silence. I let her be, either way. Eventually, she turned as if to leave, and then paused to look at me again.
"I have seen your patterns," she said. "Your color schemes for this holiday. I have some ideas, if you would ever like to hear them."
Surprised, I asked for her thoughts right away. I quickly learned that she has an impeccable sense for color and design. She didn't care to overtake the project of designing shaders for the Dawning, but she acted as a quiet and talented consultant. Over the next week or so, we spent many hours together sorting through rolls of fabric, comparing colors, considering combinations. While I think she remained wary of growing too chummy, I like to believe she started to warm to me—and to the idea of becoming a part of a long-standing City tradition.
Living through times of peril can affect us in many different ways. Sometimes those experiences change us for the better, and sometimes they don't. After all she experienced, Ada made a way of life for herself that suits her, and she has slowly begun to reconcile that life with the lives she sees being lived here, in the Tower and the City. That takes courage. I admire it.
A Necessary Distance
I believe that our City is at its best when Guardians and the people they protect live together, sharing their experiences and traditions.
I know Guardians experience things that many of us will never fully understand. Looking to find happiness, only a foolish person would say, "I wish to live forever." The nature of your lives is a great gift from the Traveler, but also a tremendous burden, one which the Guardians of the City have taken on willingly by living here with us.
Because of the Traveler's Light, Guardians are constantly placed into danger. Yes, the stakes are different for a Guardian than for the rest of us—but is the emotional toll so different? How much do you rely on desensitizing yourselves to fear and trauma in order to do your essential work? Ikora tells me not to think on this. I cannot help it.
I have never truly understood the Guardian Eris Morn. I like to plant myself firmly in the now, in the tangible. How can I make the lives of my friends better right now? How can I bring them good cheer, or good conversation, or good food? In the past, I have found Eris to be the opposite of this. I have, at least in my own head, accused her of being… gloomy.
However, I have begun to think she just sees things from a very different perspective than I do. The things that she has experienced are beyond anything I can imagine, and so we see the world in different ways.
So yes, I believe Guardians and non-Guardians should live closely and try to focus on our similarities. But I also understand that, sometimes, our differences push us apart. For some of you, it is a necessary distance that you must maintain in order to do your work. This is a truth we must all learn to live with.
All that said, Eris does play a part in many of our traditions, especially the Festival of the Lost. What a fuss she makes, though! The first time I asked for her help, she said to me, "Eva, the work I am doing is essential to humanity's survival. I do not have time for a, a… party."
I said what I always say: "The little things will get us through just as much as the big things. Let's not allow the flowers to wilt in the pot while you're still digging the garden, Eris."
She never likes that. But she always agrees.
And I think she likes taking part. I once saw her hand a box of raisins to a masked Guardian, stone-faced, and then turn around and smile. Eris! Smiling!
Once I plan a Dawning event to put her in charge of, we'll have her grinning ear to ear, I'm sure of it.
The frames in the Tower have been a great help to me in bringing holiday traditions to the people of the City. I'm not as young as I used to be, and there's an awful lot of confetti to sweep up after the celebrations die down.
Just the other day, I found myself in an ill-used stairway near the Annex, carrying a box of streamers and looking for some help. At the bottom of the stairs, sweeping the same patch of clean floor, was a frame. I felt an instant sympathy for it, and then a practical annoyance. Surely we could deploy our resources better.
"I am here for maintenance," the frame said to me.
"You seem maintained," I said cheerfully. I held the box of streamers out to him. "This room looks well-swept. Perhaps you could help me decorate the Courtyard."
The frame tilted its head down to look at the box. "I am here for mmmmmmm—" It looked up at me again. It continued to sweep, but faster. "Mai—zzzt—this task is below—his Excellenssssss—do not engage, e-e-e-end conv—"
I watched patiently.
"His bene-ne-nevolent Majest-t-t-ty, Maje—maintenance." It stopped sweeping. "I am here for maintenance."
I 'hmmph'ed to myself, set down my box, and took the broom from the frame. I leaned the broom against the wall and picked up the box again. My back was already aching. I handed the box over and then pointed to the stairs. "Come along with me."
With some coaxing, I managed to lure it to the Courtyard. I pointed to the places I wanted it to hang the streamers.
"I am here for maintenance," it said weakly.
I left it to the work without much hope that it would get done to my standards—but one can't be choosy when one is on a deadline. Not surprisingly, when I returned, both the frame and the box of streamers were gone. Deciding to choose my battles, I let it go—and now I am even more grateful for the friendly, functioning frames in my employ.