Monday, January 12, 2009

A Little Christmas Innocence

I was in the process of taking the Christmas tree down on Little Christmas (6 January), packing away all the baubles and ornaments that help make Christmas so 'magic and make believe'. It's the saddest part of every Christmas I think...but my last piece of magic every year is the way the Christmas stuff always seems to fit back perfectly into the two card-board boxes I have stored it in, ever since the girls were little, despite the constant addition of new bits and pieces each year.
My young son had just inadvertently caught me out...he came in from the garden and wondered where the squeaky toy Santa had brought to the dog, might have gotten to. I said, 'You mean the yellow cracker I bought in the pet shop?'...Oh-oh!...silence...then a small little voice said...'You bought that!?'

Realising my mistake I added...'Y'know Santa doesn't really come to dogs, only to kids'...but it was already too late, the cat was out of the bag and half way up the tree. He went back outside playing with the dog and I was left with a miserably shedding tree to consider my faux pas. I was taken aback at how easily I had just surrendered our 19-year subterfuge. The soot on the fire-grate, the half-eaten cake, the empty whiskey tumbler, the bulging stockings on the mantle-piece, all fading to memories now. Loose lips swallows reindeer indeed!
Poor boy. That's a big reality check for him...he's nearly 10, not quite a suspension of total belief just yet, but it's the beginning of the end...and it struck me hard, right in the pit of my stomach, like hitting the brakes on an icy road, sensing the first shimmering slide before the realisation hits you that you are not going to be able to stop, as you luge towards that big slidey bend up ahead.

Soon he will be a young man, no longer interested in helping me set up the train tracks around the tree in the corner...and we won't have any innocent babies to nurture, nor ply with time-worn traditional tales of fantasy and expectancy and the baby Jesus...and Christmas, and the tree with all the shiny ornaments that had survived all of our moves and our constant exposure to commercialism, will have lost some of it's's quite sad actually!

But then again...what did I expect, it's January, the roads really are icy. Nothing will ever be as it was again. Bethelhem is burning, the wise men have feet of clay and the whole world is coming to grips with a new reality! It seems we may have all lost a bit of innocence this Christmas.