Notes:    Ages have been converted into Terran years.

Tudec is the second December of the Martian year.

I sat down in the rocker beside my kids' bunk beds. David had the top bunk, but for reading time he always cuddled under the blankets with Erica in the bottom bunk. I gave them a warm smile, opened the book, and began:

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;"

"Daddy, what's a mouse?" Erica, my four-year-old, asked. I smiled at her. She and her brother, a very precocious five years old, had been born on Mars, unlike my wife and I, who'd emigrated from Earth eight years prior.

"Well, Sweetie, a mouse is a small, furry creature that sneaks in from outdoors and scurries around the house when everyone is asleep."

"But wouldn't it pop on the outside?" David objected. "My friend Stevie took his parakeet outdoors to the surface to see how fast it could fly, but it only flopped some before it explo..."

"I get the picture, David," I hastily interrupted to save Erica from the gory details. Erica wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, and took deep interest in the sick and injured. "We don't have mice on Mars, but on Earth they can breathe the air and not pop from lack of pressure. Now, let's continue..." I cleared my throat.