Edmund Dulac's 1910 illustration of Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose). Sometimes the fairies give wishes, and sometimes they give gifts. Sometimes they aren't fairies at all but witches.

Edmund Dulac’s 1910 illustration of Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose). Sometimes the fairies give wishes, and sometimes they give gifts. Sometimes they aren’t fairies at all but witches.

“I wish we could put a stop to all this junk mail!” Simplia said flipping through a good, solid inch of envelopes and flyers and post cards that got crumpled into the mailbox. “I wish you could just get the mail people you know really send to you.”

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,” Sagacia pronounced rhythmically.

“Well, that would be fine with me. What’s so bad about beggars having horses, anyway?” Simplia asked. “Or, at least, horsepower? It’s the American dream, after all.”

“But wishing can get you in trouble, too,” Sagacia cautioned, on the watch, as usual, lest something  go wrong.

“I know, but it’s really just something people say; nobody really expects anything to happen, that their wish would come true, that is.” Simplia said still shuffling through the mail.

“Good Heavens,” Sagacia replied. “You know what Mary Poppins said about making wishes you don’t believe in, don’t you? ‘Why bother to wish then?’ she said. ‘I’d call that a waste of time,’ she said.”

“Well, that was Mary Poppins,” Simplia replied. “And far be it from me to disagree with Mary Poppins, but I think people say they wish for something just to express a viewpoint without believing for a moment that their wish will come true. You certainly didn’t think I believed junk mail would stop when I wished it would, did you?”

Sagacia shook her head. “Not really,” she smiled.

“Oh, look! Here’s a letter for Vasilisa.” Simplia said, handing one envelope toward Sagacia and setting the rest on the table.

“It looks like it’s from a reader of her syndicated advice column,” Sagacia said, reaching for the envelope, “but it couldn’t be! It didn’t arrive magically; it came by regular mail.”

Simplia pulled the letter back and looked at it closely.

“It got here without a stamp,” she said.

“Well, that’s not magic, though; it’s just an oversight,” Sagacia explained.

“And the address is incomplete. See? It doesn’t have a zip code.”

“Sure, but the post office can look that up and send it on,” Sagacia shrugged. “They probably know all the zip codes by heart, anyway.”

“And the digits in our address are switched around!”

“Hmm.” Sagacia said. “Let me see.”

Simplia handed the missive back to her.

Sagacia studied the envelope, front and back. “Well, it is odd, at least,” she said.

“Yes, and it is the magical third day of the month,” Simplia pointed out.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to open it and find out,” Sagacia mumbled.

“No,” Simplia agreed. “It woudn’t.” She trembled, restraining her eager hands from snatching the letter away and tearing it open.

“So, . . .” Sagacia said pensively, turning the letter over in her hands.

“Open it!” Simplia demanded! “Just open it! Just look and see!”

Sagacia hesitated, but only for a moment, then she peeled the flap up and took out the letter. She read:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise:

I have recently received bunches of birthday wishes on Facebook, and it made me think about wishes in fairy tales. You know: someone is granted three wishes? or one wish? And they think it will bring about some goal, but then something gets twisted around and their wish is foiled? Sometimes the wish has a strange result because of the way they worded it, or sometimes the wish turns back upon itself and has the opposite result from what was intended. Sometimes a third wish nullifies the first two.

(Or do they? Perhaps it is just the fairy tales flitting past my head at the moment. Are there fairy tales in which the wishes actually do work to the desired end?)

As a child, I used to say to myself, “If I had a wish, I would wish for more wishes.” Would that work by the supernatural laws of Fairyland?

So, just to gather some substance about this topic, I wonder if you could help me find some stories where wishes were granted (or not) and also think about how they come out. Is it the wish that makes that story a Fairy Tale, or is it something else?

–Wishing in Washington

“So, Wishing in Washington wants witnesses,” Sagacia said.

“We could use some help on this one, Simplia said, grabbing her parasol. “Let’s go ask our magical friends at the Fairy Tale Lobby about wishes! Which tales have them? What role do they play? Do they provide the magic a fairy tale needs, or are they just an interesting aside?

Fairy Tale Lobby Dutch Treat Dinner
at the NSN Conference in Kansas City. 

  Friday evening, July 31 at 5:45
at the Kona Grill in Country Club Plaza.
Take the hotel shuttle to Country Club Plaza; Kona Grill is three doors east of Plaza III, facing Brush Creek. Dinner Menu.
RSVP in your comment below or email Mary Grace: mgk_at_talesandlegends.net