I interrupted my mother at that point in her story. I told her that, even though I was just a kid, I knew enough about science to know that the sun was a star, and Earth a planet, and like all planets the Earth rotated around the sun, which meant the sun never really went to sleep like she said in her story. I then asked if the Sun was so smart then why did it need to stage a silly competition in order to figure out which element was the strongest, and by the way, what did any of this have to do with winter?
My mother closed her eyes a moment, then reopened them slowly and spoke softly. “You’ve asked me three questions. I am glad for your first, for it shows that you do not completely trust storytellers — no, the sun does not sleep, my little scientist. But when I finish this tale, you may learn that there are truths in stories that cannot be expressed by science. Your second question demonstrates your impatience, for it will be clear by story’s end why the Sun’s competition is necessary. And your third question — ‘what does any of this have to do with winter?’ — speaks to your lack of faith.”
I reminded my mother that she had praised me for not trusting storytellers before so why was she questioning my lack of faith now. She frowned, and said “Johnny Carson’s on in ten minutes, kid. You wanna hear the rest of this story, or not?” She tossled my head, which made me laugh, and she continued.