Bitter Sweet Tidings

by Nico-Stone Rupan

First published

Bitter Honey and Gretchen offer up little ways to help heal their fractured families for the holiday season.

It's Christmas in July as Bitter Honey and Gretchen offer up their small ways to help heal their fractured families for the holiday season.

(Contains some strong language, references to child abuse, and political statements being shouted randomly)

Bitter Sweet Tidings

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With an evil gleam in her eye, Gretchen collected her ammo and scanned the area for potential targets. So many options. Finally, she settled on an old woman hobbling along within range. Perfect.

Gretchen locked on, took aim, and –

"You know, it's not too late to call up Santa to cancel his delivery to our house," Gilda said.

Gretchen huffed and dropped the snowball.

Gilda and her four-year-old daughter were walking through Canterlot City on their way home from a trip to the supermarket. Gretchen always hated to go shopping anywhere. It was so boring for her to wait around while the grown-ups wandered around aimlessly searching for things to buy, or even worse, unexpectedly run into somebody they knew and proceed to talk about nothing for forever. It was no wonder Gretchen tried to keep herself entertained by coming up with mischief to pull.

Gilda reached into the grocery bag she was carrying. "Listen, promise not to be a little brat until we get home..." She pulled out and presented her with a small, chocolate Santa. "... and I'll let you have a treat right now."

Gretchen's eyes widened with desire. "Gimme!"

Gilda gave her a look. "Promise first."

"Fine," Gretchen groaned. "I promise not to be a brat, now gimmie!"

Gilda handed her the chocolate. A greedy grin crossed Gretchen's face. Just when she was about to rip the foil off and scarf St. Nick down, she suddenly felt her mother's hand reach around her shoulder. She was quickly shoved right behind her legs.

"What's going on?" Gretchen asked as she peaked around her mother.

Right in their path, she saw an older man who from the look on his face definitely did not seem pleased to have ran into them.

"Gilda," he flatly greeted.

"Asshole," Gilda flatly greeted back.

"So, how's the company you stole from me doing?" he asked, glaring at her.

Gilda smirked. "Cutting you out after giving me full legal ownership wasn't stealing. I prefer to think that it was a tough, but necessary business decision. Production has never been better thanks to your incompetence being gone."

For a moment, it appeared like the older man was about to angrily respond to that statement, however he quickly stifled himself. Instead, he asked with an eye roll, "And how's, you know, what's-his-name doing?"

Gilda put a finger up to her chin in mock thought. "Let's see. He's still a devoted husband, affectionate father, doesn't smack anyone around." She nodded. "Pretty much the exact opposite of a certain someone."

The older man's gaze went down to the little one. "So that's Gretchen, huh? She looks just like you when you were that age."

Gilda's eyes filled up with fury. "Well, there's one difference, actually. She doesn't have any bruises from you, and as long as I can help it, she never will." She turned and grabbed Gretchen's hand. "Let's go, baby."

Gilda took off. Of course, not barely a second later, did she feel a void within her grip. She stopped and lifted her hand up to find it clutching nothing but an empty mitt. Whipping around, she was horrified to see Gretchen running back towards the older man.

"Gretchen!" Gilda called.

Ignoring her mother, Gretchen ran right up to him. The older man peered down at her with some curiosity. Gretchen then held up the chocolate Santa. He blinked in confusion.

"Merry Christmas, Grampa."

The surprised older man looked up at Gilda, who looked at him. Then, inexplicably, for maybe no other reason than the spur of the moment, a small smile was shared between father and daughter. Neither one of them could remember when was the last time something like that had happened.

Not wanting to offend his granddaughter, the older man took the Santa, accepting the gift.

"Merry Christmas, Gretchen," he said. "Merry Christmas, Gilda."

With that, he walked off.

Gilda bent down to scoop Gretchen up with her free arm. "I'll say this, girl. If you weren't such a terror most of the time, you would make a pretty good dove of peace."

Gretchen rolled her eyes. "I'm going to get that chocolate Santa replaced, right?"

Gilda laughed and kissed her daughter on the cheek. "Way to ruin it, sweetie..."


"Now that's just poppycock liberal nonsense."

Sour Sweet shot an annoyed glance at her guest. "Niban, all I said was that I think my coffee needs a little more cream."

Niban Person chuckled trollishly. "Oh, sorry. Silly me. It's just that so much pinko BS spews out of your mouth, it isn't easy to detect the sensible statements anymore."

Sour let out of frustrated sigh, pinched the bridge of her nose, and recited the mental mantra, Don't punch out the mother-in-law, don't punch out the mother-in-law, don't punch out the mother-in-law...

Bitter Honey paused her progress on her drawing, partly to look over to check on her elders and partly to allow a hand twitch to come and go. She didn't want anything to ruin this particular work if she wanted to help out her mama and grandmama.

For as far back as Bitter's four-year-old brain could remember, the two of them had always been at each other's throats. They argued about anything and everything, especially about worldviews. However, to their credit, they still got together every once in a while for coffee and such. At least they were trying to get along.

They usually failed quite quickly, though...

"By the way, I saw the most adorable little dress in town the other day," Niban said with an excited grin. "It would look so lovely on Bitter Honey! I was thinking it would be wonderful idea if I bought it and took to show her off at my church's Christmas service."

Sour crossed her arms. "If Bitter ever gains an interest in religion, your son and I will happily take her to whichever church, temple, synagogue, or mosque she would wish to attend."

Her mother-in-law scoffed. "Don't you think it's meaningless for her to be celebrating a holiday without knowing the real reason for the season?"

Sour shrugged. "No more meaningless than her to be blindly following a faith just because an authority figure told her to."

Niban narrowed her eyes. "Socialist snowflake."

Sour narrowed hers as well. "Alt-right Nazi."

Niban shot up. "Gun rights!"

Sour shot up as well. "Gay rights!"

Niban banged the table. "FAKE NEWS!!!"

Sour banged it as well. "PUSSY GRABBING!!!"


The two adults broke their death stare and peered down to see a small, diplomatic face.

"Wanna see my new drawing?" Bitter asked sweetly.

Not even waiting to receive an answer, Bitter pulled the piece of paper from behind her back and lifted it up for her elders to see. The finely-detailed scene depicted was of Bitter herself ice skating while holding hands and being flanked by her mama and grandmama on each side. Everyone had a big smile as they enjoyed their fun together. A random rainbow was even above their heads.

Sour and Niban studied the piece of art. Instantaneously, smiles emerged which matched the ones in the drawing.

"Would you look at that?" Niban gushed. "Isn't our little girl so talented?"

"Oh, yes she is!" Sour bent down to hug Bitter. "The best darn artist I know."

"So, can we go ice skating for real?" Bitter asked hopefully.

Sour bent back up and turned to Niban. "I'm up for it. You up for it?"

Niban nodded. "Of course, and hey, why don't we eat at the new Italian place on Sombra Boulevard afterwards?"

Sour perked up. "A new Italian place? Why haven't I heard anything about this?"

"Don't worry, I'll hook you up," Niban chuckled, giving her daughter-in-law a wink.

After dressing warmly and fetching some ice skates, Sour and Niban each took Bitter by the hand and went out the door. Thus, Bitter brokered the most significant Christmas truce since 1914. However, just as it was in 1914, politics never die which meant Sour and Niban were destined to become enemies again soon after. For the time being, though, they could enjoy their common ground in the form of their love for a toddler with above average for her age artistic skills.


"Are you girls ready yet?" Second Person called.

"No and we'll NEVER be ready!" Gretchen roared from the hallway.

Bitter Honey was heard giggling. "Come on, Gretchen!"

Suddenly, right before the eyes of every adult at the Christmas party, Bitter dragged Gretchen into the open. Both girls were dressed in green elf costumes, complete with candy cane striped stockings, plastic pointed ears, as well as red circular blushes painted upon their cheeks. Of course, you could barely see the painted blushes on Gretchen because of the genuine one she had grown.

The adult crowd erupted in a wave of 'D'awwwww!'s and camera flashes.

Gretchen shook her head in frustration. "The things we do to put a smile on these dumb grown-ups' faces."

Bitter giggled and gave her best friend a side hug. "But it's worth it, though!"

Gretchen growled and spun around. From everyone else's point of view, it was just her being bashful. What they couldn't see was Gretchen smiling faintly and quietly admitting, "Yeah, it is."