24 December 2012

The ghost of Christmas past

My first consciously remembered Christmas.
I don't know the year, but I haven't yet started school. We are in my maternal grandparents' home on the south coast of England. It is Christmas eve, dark outside. There is a thick, freezing fog, shifting and swirling against the window pane.
My father is not here; The Queen has sent him somewhere on her inscrutable business; we are between postings, between homes. My mother, though she laughs and plays with me, and we all talk of the fun we will have tomorrow, looks wistful when I come on her unexpectedly. I can feel her lack of enthusiasm for the holiday, whatever she says.
I have had a bath. I am ready for bed, in a maroon dressing gown with braid cord piping around the seams. I look up and there is a face at the window, emerging from the night to cross its eyes and poke out its tongue at me. I shriek in surprise; my mother and grandparents jump, look at me, follow my gaze to the window; there is nobody there. My mother gathers me onto her lap, folding me in her arms. 
My grandfather answers a knock at the front door. We hear his surprise; the door closes. Then my father is in the room; he has bummed a ride on a cargo flight from god knows where, then hitched south through the fog. He must catch the same plane back on boxing day but he is here now and my mother glows with renewed life and joy as I am included in the midst of their embraces...
I don't remember any other Christmas presents from that year, though there must have been some; just that one.

1 comment:

Acerone said...

wow. Thank you for sharing...