12 days of Christmas – #12 Saffina Desforges

OK, so here it is! The festive fun and countdown to Christmas starts right here on SM0D&L and what a cracker (excuse the pun) it’s going to be!

I have a whole twelve days of guest posts from some fantabulous scribes coming your way – all with a seasonal theme.

Some are true, heat-warming tales, others are fictional, but ALL of them are brilliant! So stick around, munch on a mince pie, sip some sherry, lob another log on the fire and allow yourself to be entertained! 😉

So, as regular visitors to this blog know, SMoD&L is all about sharing. This blog has given itself over to helping promote indie authors and their wares from a huge mix of genres and writing styles, down to some spooky non-fictional offerings, we’ve had it all. I might have even thrown in a few mentions of our own books and exploits for good measure! 😉

But let’s take a look at the true meaning of Christmas today on day one if this alternative advent calendar.

Now, I don’t want to get into a discussion about the religion behind Christmas, because we are an eclectic bunch here at SMoD&L and everyone celebrates in their own way; some may not even celebrate at all depending on their faith and that’s fine. What I want to talk about today is what Christmas means to me.

It’s no secret how much I love Halloween, just check back over recent posts and some of the spooky stories that we gave you during October. It’s a wonderful time of the year, especially for a writer with a penchant for dark fantasy and crime thrillers, but Christmas is magical.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Fact.

Sure, the way you celebrate and prepare for Christmas changes with age and for those of you with children in the family, it takes on a whole new meaning, but there is nothing like that tingle, that glow that you get at Christmas – forever.

I remember the excitement I felt as a child for the whole run up to Christmas. The anticipation of maybe catching a glimpse of Santa or his reindeer, the endless nights wishing it would snow on Christmas Eve and the washing machine cycle in my stomach every time I thought about waking up on Christmas morning and seeing that sackful of presents.

In our house it was a pillow case.

A soft, candy-striped, sleep-worn pillow case. Always brimming with whatever we asked for and usually accompanied with a hand-written name tag to avoid confusion (and fist fights!) when my sisters and I were finally allowed to scramble downstairs.

I had usually broken my most expensive present before lunch time.

For those lucky enough to have had an idyllic childhood like mine, those memories and that fuzzy, warm feeling stays with you always. My parents went out of their way to keep the magic alive for as long as possible for us.  A mince pie left out for Father Christmas, a carrot for the reindeer and even an alcoholic tipple to keep old Fred Claus going on his busiest night of the year. It wasn’t until I was about 9 that I realised that Kris Kringle drank whatever my Father’s favourite beverage was at the time!

I’ll never forget a story that our primary school teacher told us when I was about 6 years old. I have mentioned it in previous posts as being one of the reasons that I became a writer.

I have trouble remembering the exact details and story now, but it involved a trip to Lapland (by my teacher, not me), a mysterious stranger that he met whilst there and a chance meeting years later. You know the kind of thing, there’s millions of them, all a variation on a theme. Like I say, the minutiae of the tale escapes me now, but what I do remember, is how I felt when we were listen to him tell it.

A classroom full of innocent, un-blemished primary school kids. Wide-eyed and open mouthed as our teacher held us captivated with his tale of stumbling across the man that was responsible for Christmas. I swear I ran all the way home to recount the story to my parents, who smiled sweetly and muttered something along the lines of, “That’s nice dear.”

It didn’t matter what they said. From a young age, that magical belief in all things Christmas is indelibly inscribed onto your soul for eternity. Sure, it might fade as time passes and you might be the one smiling sweetly as your child tells you that they heard hooves on the roof the night before Christmas, but it never goes away completely. It’s a bit like an etch-a-sketch. You can erase the pictures you draw as many times as you like by shaking the thing to within an inch of its life, but you can always still make out that faint outline if you look closely enough.

Christmas nowadays is very different. It’s endless sales, shopping days left and the thrill is usually in giving not receiving, but the magic is still there.

We always get together as a family on Christmas Eve and then spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day doing the rounds and swapping turns doing dinner each year. It’s now about a gaggle of excited nieces and nephews, Nintendo & X-Box games and panicking over whether the turkey is cooked enough.

Christmas has changed; I’ve changed, but I’ll be the first to admit, I still sleep with one eye half-open and listen out for those jingling bells on December 24th in the hope that I might just catch a glimpse and you know what? One day, I just might. 😉

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Writer, dreamer, pantser.

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6 comments on “12 days of Christmas – #12 Saffina Desforges
  1. Christmas on the beach in West Africa this year. It brings a whole new meaning to roasting chestnuts. 🙂

  2. I came late to the alternate Advent Calendar (we don’t have one… my poor kids) but I’m enjoying this. and I’m going to read the posts from top to bottom… okay so I started with five *shrug* :}

    And along the lines of Mark’s comment… but not quite – Chrsitams with out cold and the possibility of snow is weird… My whole 6 years in Cali I found it utterly weird.

    • But Cathryn, the “Christmas story” began in a snowless land in the Middle East. The three wise men turned up on camels, not a sled pulled by huskies or reindeer, and they gave the kid gold, frankincense and myrrh, not a pair of mittens and a warm scarf!

      Of course, just like Easter, the northern nations were celebrating “Christmas” long before Jesus was even immaculately conceived. In the depths of winter they’d take any excuse for a party and some warm beer!

      Later the Christian church hijacked the festival for their own ends, and later still Coca-Cola created the red-suited Santa we all know and love and completely commercialized the concept.

      Of course, Santa is one of the great creations of modern capitalism. A mythical figure that gives without ever asking for anything in return, and makes us feel guilty if we admit he doesn’t exist. So we have to buy two lots of presents for the kids, else we parents look mean. 🙂

      • Well yes, all very true Mark. They also think that Jesus was born in April, not December, but making it December and coinciding with the winter feasts that already existed made conversion easier…

        And Santa Claus was at least based upon St. Nickolas, before the Marketing gods got hold of him.

        I think the biggest thing to remember about the season is that it’s for the kids, the family, and sharing love.

        But yeah… now that I’m a parant, It’d be really nice if there really WAS a Santa Claus. I bet his elves would make much better toys than the easily breakable ones that you can get now a days. :}

  3. Glad to have you here Cathryn! Let it snow! 😉

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