Written December 2018- first published via the UK Bold Strokes website
I love Christmas. I love the sticky sweet smell of the tree and even untangling the lights that seem to become a mass of Gordian knots every year no matter how careful I am putting them away. I love sorting through the baubles. My brother and I made some of them when we were small. Bits of cotton wool and clumps of glitter stuck on toilet rolls that my mum refused to throw out. I love putting the robin on the top of the tree and remembering how every year my dad would tell me it came from the set of the film Santa Claus and somehow it seemed more magical because of that. It’s going bald now and its red breast has faded to muddy pink.
I don’t put an old sock at the end of my bed anymore and wake in the morning to feel the weight of it against my toes where it transformed in the night to a stocking filled with presents. I don’t leave out a mince pie and sherry for Father Christmas or a carrot for Ruldolf on Christmas Eve. And I don’t find a thank you note from them that my dad stained with a tea bag and wrote painstakingly in calligraphy complete with reindeer hoof print. But I still love Christmas morning.
I still remember my mum taking me to the park and sitting me down on the steps by the paddling pool to tell me Father Christmas wasn’t real. She thought I might already know but I didn’t. My brother is five years younger so she asked me to keep it a secret. After that, I got to experience Christmas in a different way. Old enough to see through the magic they created but not grown up enough to disbelieve it completely. We still put out old socks and still got the thank you notes and even though I knew it was them, part of me always felt the same excitement when I touched the stocking with my toes and saw the note.
This year I’ll buy a tree, struggle with the lights and hang the bog rolls off it. I’ll put the moth eaten robin on top and after several adjustments it won’t list to the side. I know Father Christmas isn’t real (my brother does too in case you’re wondering, though I never told him) but some of that same old magic my parents carefully constructed is. I love Christmas.