Christmas short story

Christmas comes but once a year: and don’t I know it?  Yuletide has been difficult for so long, but this year, this year the holidays have regained innocence: they are indulgent afresh.  For a time my family never wantonly anticipated the festive season.  When we stopped frequenting the carol service at the Women and Children’s Aid Centre, Christmas was of no consequence.  Eight years have passed and the bereavement of Nana continues to burden us all.  Nana was just fifty.  We, that is my parents and I, feel we have something to live for once again; I have a new baby brother, Tannon, from the carol, you know?  “O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum”.  This is his first Christmas with us and I cannot wait to return home.

 

The day is Sunday, December twenty third, and I stand alone awaiting my coach.  I draw my trusty duffle coat tightly into my pitiful frame, attempting to stifle the piercing wind that rushes about me.  The alpaca scarf, a knitted gift from my mother’s crafty sister Aunt Bree, lies around my neck and I’m comforted by the memory of watching her fashion such knitwear, sitting in front of her resplendent wood burner in years past.  The sharp sleet that strikes my skin, stings my lips and I wipe them with the back of my calloused hand.  From somewhere in the distance I make out the mirthful ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ chiming out from a celeste.  The song is not dampened by today’s truly wintry clime, but somehow heightened, like the peal of a steel band is at a traditional West Indian wedding and I cannot prevent myself from simpering.

 

Time advances expeditiously, and I become fearful that the twenty fourteen service from Otley has been cancelled.  With just myself for company, my thoughts have become suitably uneasy.  What if the coach never arrives?  Am I to be stranded?  I cannot recall the last person I saw.  Mother!  Father!  Baby brother!  I cannot stay here.  They need me.  I need them.  I have no phone, I cannot call them and they will be waiting for me, wondering, worrying.  Suddenly the bus station becomes noiseless and the road down which my taxi departed unfurls, I watch as the thicket adjacent to the road snowballs.  All at once as if the light of moon is altering my perception, heightening my consternation I become too afraid to move.  Fear paralyses me, and I begin to sweat and shiver. 

Just then, I feel a sweet, sensitive hand touch my cheek and my eyes open allowing the pure, radiant light to flood into me.  My anxiety dissipates as I drink in the scene before me.  I realise now how my mind creates its own circumstances.  The truth is that the dear woman who leant down beside me and brushed my cheek has awoken me from a hallucination.   Hannah is seemingly a volunteer, one of many; Hannah is my angel this evening.  Surrounding us are several of Hannah’s do-gooding friends, now mine also.  Behind them, an eminent float dressed in glorious decoration, silver bells and bows, a collection of seasonal fruit complemented by elegant lighting and delightful celeste.  Imitation presents are stacked beside a grandiose throne, which seats a bearded man adorning a resplendent suit and hat, carnelian in colour, with a furry almond lining emerging from his black gloves and boots.  The man smiles and my liberation is complete.  The burden I put upon myself to return home induced my nightmare.  However, Hannah and her friends along with the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ stimulate me and as my coach arrives I feel free to climb aboard and complete my journey home.

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