A Christmas Adventure
When I popped out to get the newspaper that Saturday morning, looking forward to some fresh, hot coffee on my return to accompany my read, I did not expect to be gone for a week.
I walked into my local grocery store, where I buy my paper every morning on my way to work, and said good morning to the girl at the till, as was my habit. She looked at me as if she’d never seen me before in her life, as was her habit. It was mid-December and the Christmas frenzy was in full swing. To say I’m a cynic probably sums up my view on … well, anything really. On top of which, I do distrust the sudden charity and jollity of the Christmas spirit.
Sneering at the shelves stacked full of additional Christmas chocolates, I fought my way through multi-coloured tinsel and garlands of holly and pine cones. I was about to pick up a paper when my phone rang, number unknown. I had a strong suspicion that it might be my mother who recently discovered that I was more likely to answer the phone to a mystery caller than her. I love my mother but she does have the habit of ringing at the most inconvenient times. And she never leaves enough time between calls to give me a chance to miss her. Despite that, I decided to answer figuring that the ridiculously loud Christmas Carols that were blurting out of the speakers would give me a good excuse to cut the conversation short.
Turned out, I was wrong. ‘Ho, Ho, Ho,’ boomed Father Christmas down the phone, offering me the best deal in … I’d hung up before he got to the end. But, with the phone still by my ear, I suddenly found myself face to face with the man himself. He was a rather grim looking Father Christmas though and, despite my cynicism, I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have hung up on him. A second later there was a massive bang. So shrill as if all the Christmas baubles in London had exploded at the same time.
Next thing I knew, I was on Santa’s sleigh, flying between heavy snow laden clouds, getting so close to them at times that I lost all vison. Then again, glimpses of light as we passed stars glowing but faintly. Left and right and left again, we slalomed across the sky, so fast, it made my head spin. Intermittently, I heard the sound of an engine in the distance which I assumed must have been planes hidden from my sight behind clouds. But mostly we journeyed in silence. We stopped at a snowy white landscape. It was freezing. But dry and crisp. The sort of cold that numbs your cheeks and limbs, and you just know that there is no coat in the world that could keep you warm. Yet, there were lots of elves running around without being wrapped up in layers of winter clothes. All, seemingly, too busy to notice our arrival. So we carried on through halls of ice until we entered a place, the existence of which I had stopped believing in since I was six years old. Barely one foot in and the warmth that flooded through my whole body was the most wonderful feeling I had ever experienced. And what a colour scheme! I had never seen so many shades of red – from the deepest purple to multitudinal nuances of vermillion and scarlet to the faintest blush of rose. Infused with what must have been mulled wine I was passing through rows of dolls with their heads cracked open, teddy bears with torn-off limbs – all waiting to be mended.
Waking up, surrounded by my family, my mother sitting beside me, holding my hand, her eyes red from crying – it wasn’t difficult to piece together what had happened. The robber, inventively disguised as Father Christmas, wrongly assumed that I had sussed out what was going on in the store and feared that I would alert the police when I answered my phone. He panicked and shot me. Just as well though it had been an automated call and not my mother – she would have never forgiven herself. Had it not been for the neck-breaking speed of the ambulance, I would not be here to tell my story. My ‘Christmas journey,’ magical as it was, had done little to change my opinion of the Christmas spirit. I guess, the shooter taking advantage of the festive time has something to do with that. I am, however, less cynical about miracles these days.