A Christmas dream.

Standard

granpa

The old armchair squeaks companionably as I edge my equally aged frame down into its depths. The fire is really only fake electric logs, but if I squint my eyes, minus glasses, it could pass for the real thing. Alone at Christmas, hugging my masculine independence, like a tattered security blanket, to my heart, I close my eyes. Not for me care homes with immaculately scrubbed walls. Let me rather linger here and remember what once was. Thoughts drift…

 

I see, through falling snow, a man chopping pine. He looks up, beckoning me as he carries in the logs, motioning me to come inside. Hesitantly I dust the snow from my boots. The house is modest but roomy. A girl and boy of eight or nine, rush up to him, their cheeks rosy, as if they’ve been helping with outdoor chores. Little faces peer around the door, shy of this stranger in their midst, whist mother comes in with a tray of steaming drinks.

A real wood fire burns in the grate and I hold out my hands relishing the glowing heat. Muffins follow as the three little faces come in, drawn by the treat. Father heaves one on each knee, laughing, merry, peeking at me from the corners of their eyes

A Christmas tree stands in one corner. A real one, I note with satisfaction, taking in the brisk smell of pine needles. There’s a natural joy about this family that seems to bubble over into laughter, as if they are just so happy to be alive and together. I begin to chuckle too. I just can’t help myself.

Life has a different perspective for them it seems, no hustle or bustle, no vying for gifts. Father proudly shows off his little brood, mother loving and affectionate towards him and them. I‘ve missed this I realized.

Seeing my glance, finger to lips, she motions me to accompany her into a side room. It’s full of half made things, embroidery and needlework, magnificent half completed cushions, paintings, mixtures of dried herbs that give off a wonderful aroma, woodwork, carvings and a beautiful mural set in the floor and I realize it is a workshop, not only for her but for their whole family. I see gaily painted blocks (a project of the elder boy?) A panel of somewhat messy embroidery and a rough half carved rocking horse. I run my hands wistfully over the pine, memories stirring.

I hear music coming from the other room. Mother nods and we return. They’re dancing, the girls giggling and swirling gaily, as father prances around, a fiddle in hand, from which he gleans a scratchy melody. I clap and stamp in time as mother invites me to my feet…

 

But I can’t dance, my slippers are soggy. I look down at my spilled mug of tea. A dream, just a dream, but it sure was a good one! I glance at the plastic fire, the fake tree with its store bought decorations and sigh.

Just then the doorbell rings. Shuffling along in soggy slippers I peer through the frosted glass. It couldn’t be? Could it?

“Surprise!” I’m almost bowled over by two rambunctious, young teenagers. My son grabs my shoulder to steady me.

“Now calm down you two hoodlums,” he yells. “Gramps is not as strong as he used to be.”

He looks into my eyes, “We couldn’t leave you on your own for Christmas again dad. I just couldn’t come last year… the whole thing with mum, it was too much. But I… I kept remembering about the time we made that rocking horse for Emmie’s Christmas present. Do you remember? It was so wobbly she could barely ride it, but I always remember building it with you.”

“Yes, I remember son.” Eyes tearing I hug him close.

Returning to the living room the fake fire and tree didn’t seem to matter anymore. I had my dream, my Christmas dream.

 

 

For Mothers Everywhere, (a “story gift” – read it, it will make your day!)

Standard

mountain rainbow

I woke to a lovely surprise a bunch of beautiful greetings from my daughter in China.I guess it’s mothers day there. It’s long gone here in the UK, but I wanted to share a very beautiful story written for me by my youngest when I was setting of to live in China. Though personal I think it applies to many mothers the world over and I’d like to share it for those mum who’s kids are not literately gifted but feel the same.

“There once was a little girl who was sprung into a strange and enchanted land known as Life. When she entered this magical realm the little girl was bright eyed and innocent. She took in all the sights around her with excitement and adulation Her favourites were the swirling clouds of colour, the billowing waterfalls, and the mountains crested with rainbows at their peaks.

So this little girl set off on her long journey through life. Once she set foot on the trail, she was accompanied by a beautiful woman who held her hand. They walked together down the trail, pausing to enjoy and explore the many fascinating sights and experiences along the way.

The little girl saw many things she did not understand, so the beautiful woman explained them to her. When the little girl wanted to pick a rose, the beautiful woman would always do it for her so she wouldn’t prick her tiny fingers. The woman would hold branches back so the little girl could walk free of their scratches, and she even built magical bridges to cross the rivers and lakes along the way.

As the little girl grew older, she started letting go of the beautiful woman’s hand for periods of time. She’d skip ahead along the path and sometimes sneak off when the woman wasn’t watching. When she did this, the little girl would fall into mud holes sometimes, or get lost in a big scary thicket, or even slip and tumble into a river.

Each time the beautiful woman was there to pull her out, to dry her off, kiss the cuts and bruises, and take the little girl by the hand again.

Time passed, and the trail got darker and colder in parts. The nights became longer, and the little girl grew older and wiser. She started to notice things she she hadn’t seen before about her enchanted land – things which made her sad and cry sometimes.

But always, the beautiful woman was there beside her, telling the little girl not to cry, and that Life was really a very lovely land to live in,and that the path would grow brighter too.

Then the little girl (who was really not so little anymore) started to notice that there were other girls and boys (and men and women) traveling the trail as well. The little girl sometimes wished she could just sit on the side of the road and laugh and do nothing all day like some of the others that she saw. It looked like fun.

But the beautiful woman always told the little girl that if she stopped moving for too long and stayed playing sandcastles forever, the wolves would get her. And sometimes the little girl listened, and sometimes she didn’t – and the wolves did get her.

But always, the beautiful woman was there to save the little girl – even from herself.

After many years of traveling the trail, the little girl grew up into a woman. She looked at Life very differently now than she had when she’d first arrived. The swirling clouds of colours she now watched carefully – because they could turn into tornadoes sometimes. But they were still pretty. And the waterfalls were amazing, but she knew that if she stood underneath them they would drown her. And the mountains were still beautiful, but they were difficult to climb – and their rainbows were only ever created when it rained.

But always, the beautiful woman was there to tell the girl that Life was still beautiful. Because the girl didn’t believe that sometimes.

One day the girl and the beautiful woman came to a golden patch of sky and the woman told the girl that the time had come for her to leave. They could not travel the same path anymore even though they would both still be living in Life.

The girl didn’t know what she would do without her beautiful lady beside her on the road. She looked at her and saw then that the woman had a shimmering set of wings – golden, beautiful, alive. The girl had never noticed them before, but they had always been there. Because you see, the beautiful woman was really an angel and the little girl had sometimes thought so, but now she knew so.

The beautiful woman told her girl that she had to keep traveling the trail, and that one day she would find her golden patch of sky to fly into – after she became someone else’s angel just like the beautiful woman had been the her angel.

Then the beautiful woman flew up into the clouds to a new trail in the sky, and the girl kept on walking down the trail. She knew she would get lost sometimes, and it would still rain and be cold and lonely some days, but her beautiful lady had taught her lots about Life, and she knew she would be OK.