Tuesday, 7 August 2012

United Friends Challenge - #262 - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Bonnymom's Challenge
Your task for this challenge is to conjure for us a vision of the Christmas you'd love to have this year -- whether you think it's possible or not. You are being asked to fantasize, to create your perfect Christmas. You must base your vision on your most favorite Christmas carol or song. Describe that scene for us in whatever way will bring us there with you. It may be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, but you MUST be one of the protagonists.
Meg looked out of the window. It was no longer snowing. If she had lived in the twentieth century or later, she would have described the view as a picture postcard of the ideal winter scene. What Meg saw were trees with thick layers of snow lining their branches. The gas lamps reflected a warm glow on the snowy surfaces of the streets and to complete the scene a small bird could be seen preening its red breast. Meg’s robin had returned again this winter.

“Time to get ready” she heard her mother call “and wrap yourself up warm.”

Meg took her bonnet and tied it tightly around her chin to keep her ears warm. She found her bootees, buttoned her coat over her dress and was sure she was ready. Her mother entered the room.

“Child, you cannot come like that, your fingers will freeze.”

Meg’s mother was right, and Meg took her muff, placed the cord around her neck. It was now in the right position for keeping her hands warm in the cold night air. She took one more look around the warm room she was leaving. It was for Meg the happiest day of the year on Christmas Eve. The stockings were hung one by one over the fireplace, ready to be filled with gifts when they returned. The fire had now burnt to a cinder, but was still radiating warmth into the room.

There was a stocking for her mother, her father and each of her two sisters and little Jimmy, the youngest. They were already in bed, although she was sure they were not sleeping full of excitement for the day to come. This was the first time Meg was allowed to go with her mother and father on Christmas Eve. The carol singers could already be heard and when she opened the window just a little she could hear them singing their melodies of the songs she knew so well.

The smells of her home were also Christmas smells. The tree had been hung with apples, their skin polished to a rosy red, and the warmth of the candles enhancing their aroma. Her mother had been baking all afternoon; mince pies. She knew it was tradition that when they returned hungry, mother would serve them and her mother and father would have a small glass of sherry to drink with them. Meg was now thirteen years old and considered still too young for such drinks, but she was not worried.

They left the house together, mother, father and Meg and stopped at each street corner to listen to the groups of Carol singers that had gathered. Mother and father held tight onto Meg’s hand. She was still weak from the illness that had come to her at the beginning of winter, and she still was still coughing from time to time. The doctor said the fog and dirt of the town was not good for her health, but there was no chance that the family could afford to send Meg away to one of those fancy health clinics. Father worked as a carpenter and earned little money. It was just enough to get the children through life and mother worked as a servant in one of the lady’s homes.

Meg looked up to the sky, she was so seldom outside in winter. She was fascinated by the stars twinkling in the dark blue sky. It was the happiest Christmas she had ever experienced; it was unfortunately her last Christmas.


I was getting the house ready for Christmas. We bought the tree last year. I wanted a white one, with glistening leaves to reflect from the electric light chain that was hung over the branches. I decided on a large white star for the top of the tree, instead of the plastic fairy we had the year before. My little girl was a year older and was no longer in her fairy years.

Food had been organised for the Christmas meal. Frozen mince pies just had to be put in the oven when needed. I removed the turkey from the freezer so that it would thaw out enough to be cooked the next day, on Christmas morning. It was then that the postman arrived.

“Looks like we have received another pile of cards John” I called to my husband. It was true. Over the years the family had expanded, my brother was now in Australia, but his cards had already arrived, making sure they avoided the Christmas rush. I then saw an envelope with a Canadian stamp, and knew it must be from Aunt Mildred, who had moved to Canada many years ago, but she never forgot her favourite niece in England.

“Aunt Mildred has sent a card John.”

“You must open it” answered John “your Aunt Mildred always sends a nice card for Christmas.”

I opened the envelope, being careful to put the stamps on one side. Canadian stamps were always worth keeping. I pulled the card out of the envelope and was surprised. Cards today usually showed perhaps a couple of Christmas decorations packed into a square frame looking like a modern artist had a dream about what his Christmas should be.

This year Aunt Mildred sent a card showing a scene from the window of a house. In the house was a fireplace with a smouldering fire and various sizes of stocking were hung over the fire, packed with presents. Part of a toy wooden train was poking out of one of the stockings. In the house she could see the figure of a young girl dressed in the clothes of the nineteenth century, complete with muff to keep her hands warm. Outside the window there was a group of carol singers, their faces reflected in the light of a street lantern and to complete the picture there was a tree, heavily loaded with snow on its branches, and sitting on the branch a little red robin.

“Looks like Aunt Mildred is getting older John and more sentimental. It is a very nice card, I didn’t know they still made them like that.”

And I put the card with the others. We had pinned a cord stretched from one side of the wall to the other and the cards were hung over the cord, to save space and to stop them falling. I put Aunt Mildred’s card between a card with a snowman with a baseball hat on his head and a picture of Santa driving a sports car.

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