Like many people, I've been gearing up to Christmas for a while now. I suppose that you could say that I'm a bit of a sentimental old soul during the Yuletide season and maybe I am. However, that doesn't normally reflect in my writing. I've that nasty habit of soaking up Christmastime cliches and general cheesiness (which I love, by the way) only to produce something equally cutesy and predictable. But this time I think I've done it.
Having received my first Christmas card a month or so ago (a very sweet but slightly overeager gesture), I glanced at the printed message inside and got to thinking: 'What if I could fashion this typical little message into a title for a relatively interesting and festive short short story?', or something along those lines. And I did.
Well, in a manner of speaking. I swapped the "Merry Christmas" message for three slightly more ambiguous messages - "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays" and "Best Wishes". I know the latter doesn't technically count as a Christmas card message, but I definitely found it in one. They're all "Tales from the Heart of Christmas Cards" and I'm sticking to that story.
So here they are: the teeny tiny tokens of my festive sentimentality. I know that I wimped out a bit in the end but you'll forgive me. After all, it is Christmas...
TALES FROM THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS CARDS
The fingers are first. They slide off the walls, creep along the grass.
Next are the knuckles. Snapping forward they nudge the flesh of nature; press through, lock in place.
Then comes the palm. Laying down to pat the earth, it leaves a pale powdered print and drags on till daylight.
The white hand of winter arrives. Few reach out to shake it.
Harold was merry. As merry as two six-packs of lager and a bottle of communion wine can get you, anyway. He stumbled and slid.
The walk was treacherous, but Harold didn't care. If Jesus could walk on water, he could bloody well wind his way home on ice.
But Jesus and ice didn't matter tonight. Tonight he wasn't a priest; tonight he wasn't a man of dignity. Tonight he was a drunk, and a happy one at that. A jolly old fool chasing the blinks of pretty lights. And if anyone noticed the dog collar, twisted out of shape, and stopped him; he'd just tell them to bugger off. He deserved a break. It was a holiday, after all. And why did they care? Why would anyone care these days?
Harold hiccuped and skidded forward. Mary was probably waiting up for him. She was in for a big surprise.
Having finished her last mince pie, Nicola turned back to the telescope. Dusting the crumbs from her lower lip, she rested an eye on the eyepiece and started scanning the heavens. It wasn't a particularly good night for stargazing; there was a thick veil of mist stretching across the atmosphere, but that didn't matter. She stopped the scope and beamed. There it was.
Polaris. The last star in the tail of the Little Dipper. The North Star. Her favourite star. It gleamed through the whirling black.
For years on Earth, this particular star had been a source of guidance and navigation for countless travellers. And yet, every time the planet changed the direction of its axis, the star would always move accordingly. In many ways it reminded Nicola of a hope or wish; always aspired to yet forever distant.
Much like her own wish. She'd been stuck on this space station for just over a year now, many light-years from home. Home, where Christmas was still traditional and not just a tolerated expression of faith. Home, where families and friends gathered for warmth against the bitter chill.
Nicola moved away. Home and all it's traditions were a long way away now. Still, they were somewhere. She'd just have to wait.
Thousands of light-years away, the North-Star winked in the dark.
And that's about it. Well, there is something else. I'm kinda a published writer now. Well, actually some of my work is published in a collection of short stories and poetry. The book is called "Born Listening" (£5 retail price, sold in specific bookshops around Sheffield including the Sheffield Central Children's Lending Library and the Rare and Racy bookshop on Division Street) and it's rather small but filled with truly wondrous pieces of literature from the very best of Yorkshire young writers. In fact, I'd go as far as to suggest it might make a good stocking filler...(hint, hint).
Anyway, that's enough out of me. I wish you all (loyal readers and casual visitors alike) a very Jolly Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!!
Until we meet again...