They Said There'll be Snow at Christmas

Tom used to love Christmas but the thought of a Christmas without his loved ones has made him bitter to everything about the season.

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1. December 1st

 

 

"They said there'll be snow at Christmas 
They said there'll be peace on earth 
But instead it just kept on raining 
A veil of tears for the virgin birth" 

Greg Lake – I Believe in Father Christmas 

December 1st 

It hadn't always been as bad running up to Christmas. I used to love the fun and excitement of the time of year. The sense of anticipation hanging in the air waiting to burst and spread its joy and happiness over the world. As a little kid I'd positively crackled with emotion from around the middle of October when the decorations started appearing in the shops. Even now the smell of the fir tree still evokes the image of a  Christmas tree standing in the corner of a room. There was a magic about the time that was all pervading. The traditions that were built up over the years that I mentally ticked off in my head, each task completed meaning it was one step nearer to the enchanting day. 

 

Christmas was the most enchanting time of year. A time when the family came together and it was all smiles and happiness. The house decorated not just inside but out, my dad slaving away from late November putting up the seemingly endless rows of lights that garnished our house. The jolly plastic Santa who stood guard on the doorstep ready to welcome visitors, the wreath of holly and bright red berries that hung from the door. Each year another piece was placed into the mix, new lights that twinkled, an inflatable deer that lost it's shape well before the big day. My dad wearing to himself as he fumbled up a ladder with the gutter lights. Each vowing that it would be the last he did it, each year forgetting that he'd said it and buying new decorations. 

 

I remember one particular Christmas, the last we had as a complete family. The one that stuck sharply in my mind. It was the happiest memory I have, yet I guess behind the scenes things weren't as settled as they appeared. Two weeks into the new year and my parents split. The memories of that last Christmas though were never sullied by the breakup. I guess they tried to make it the best time for us because there were many treats that we'd never had before. I was eleven at the time and never thought Santa existed. Oh I had done until an annoying kid had told me three years before that it wasn't Santa who'd delivered my presents but my parents. That Christmas I'd not really believed him but as the days went past I realised that maybe he'd been right. My dad would have been mortified though if I wasn't a believer and so I'd never told him. I guess he'd eventually suspected I didn't but each year we went through the routine of putting the list of things I wanted in a letter to Santa and leaving it by the fireplace. Next morning there would be a letter thanking me and a small present. You can tell why I liked that tradition can't you? 

 

So that year we had trips to various places on the weekends up to Christmas. We saw Santa loads of times, first at the school where the man in the suit looked and smelt uncannily like 'Fagash' Simmons. Then there was the Santa Express where Santa was sat in the goods wagon of a steam train dressed up to look like Thomas the Tank Engine. The effect rather ruined by it being a black engine with just a smiley face on a board.  

 

The highlight though was a boat trip around Scarborough harbour and meeting Pirate Santa. I guess that's sort of touching the incredible but it was great. The day was crisp, a touch of frost in the air. I was wrapped up in my blue Wednesday santa hat and scarf against the chill. The pirate boat was decked out in jolly rogers as well as a huge amount of tinsel. Pirate Santa was dressed as if Johnny Depp was wearing the red suit. 'Yarr Merry Christmas" seemed quite in fitting. The present was a plastic cutlass that whilst may be a bit childish ensured I could annoy my sister by poking her when the parents weren't looking. Steaming hot chocolates with marshmallows added to the mood and it was a day I remember fondly. 

 

Yes that was a time when I thought the Christmas spirit would be with me forever. When I wasn't like some modern day Ebenezer Scrooge shutting my windows to the world, wishing new year would come quickly and wipe away all the vestibules of the season. 

 

Looking out of the window I see the Christmas lights from the house across the road. Far from making me smile they sear my eyeballs with their brightness. Scowling I pull the curtains cutting out any thoughts that Christmas is here. Sitting down in front of the TV, I switch on the television and sit down. sickly ad for a department store is showing. The usual sentimental claptrap that once I regarded as wonderful now made me feel sick, the memories it engendered too raw to contemplate. 

 

I turned the television off and sat back, the mind open as the images of Christmas past flowed out sending tears slowly at first and then in torrents down my cheeks. Oh how I missed my parents, how I wish I could reconcile the relationship with my sister but most of all I missed Cathy, the love of my life who'd deserted me last Christmas. 

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