It’s All About the Giving


It was a white Christmas.  Heavy falls of silent snowflakes covered the land. Motorways, railway lines and hills lay under the snow. Villages isolated and cities silent.

It had been a good  Christmas of carols, cake and crackers. Family love and laughter.

Midnight Mass had been celebrated. Well wrapped worshippers and those full of  Christmas spirit,  made the short journey from pub to pew.  Carols were sung lustily beneath a gold and red decked Christmas tree. To sing by the tree and the Baby in the Manager.

The thespian enjoyed a break from wigs, make up and applause, Director’s notes, rehearsals and dance routines.  A chance to sleep, to dream, to eat. To spend time with those she loved.

Daughter No. One said farewell to the city, parties, late night trains and hang overs. Deadlines, spread sheets and high heels.

The Golf Police put away the brief case and blackberry.  Closed the files and shut the study door. Ticked off the last Christmas party in the diary and hung the car keys on the hook.

Across the land, excited children slept restlessly and awaited the red robed man pulling his present laden sleigh across the sky. Shopping malls closed their tills and prepared for the sales. Supermarkets emptied their shelves of turkey, goose and glitter and took delivery of Easter eggs, cards and bunnies.

In the household of the Golf Police, the naked turkey made it from the oven to the festive table of reds and golds. Served with roast parsnips, cranberries and chestnut stuffing.  Wine had been consumed and presents unwrapped from underneath the twinkling tree.

The frantic days of shopping, wrapping and queues were over for another year.

The cold days of Christmas were spent walking in crispy snow coated woods and eating cold turkey and bubble and squeak.

Presents were divided into neat piles.  Those which were a necessity or luxury.  Life enhancing or enriching.  And those which sat quietly in a pile waiting to be returned to the shops.

The Golf Police had opened his presents, drunk the wine and eaten slabs of Christmas pudding.

“So do you like it?” I said.

It sat on the floor between us.  As the fire threw shadows across the room and the logs spat in the grate.

“Yes” he said taking the drill out of its case.   A man’s toy.  A DIY toy.  A gift not just for Christmas.

“You can do all those jobs now” I said.

“Hang those pictures. Fix the shelves and the radiator cover.

“Can’t wait” he said. “Can’t wait”.

And so he became like Joseph the Carpenter, whose family knew about straw, shepherds and the Three Wise Men.

“Sorry” he said. “About yours.  I never really got the chance”

I thought about the reply.  I thought about the three hundred and sixty four days in the year when there would have been a chance.  To shop.  To buy something for a dimpled ball addict.

I thought about the lists left around the house.  On the fridge, memory board and screen saver.  Scattered like confetti.

I thought about standing on the tee and taking out the new driver. The one with a forgiving shaft and legal co-efficient of restitution.  The one that found the fairways and never the woods or OB.  And Big Rich would say:

“Did you get that for Christmas?” and I would smile and gently replace the head cover.

Instead, I looked at the candle.  It was a beautiful candle.  A candle which would burn for one hundred hours and remind me of the ocean and the warm winds from Africa.  And the oven mitts would rescue carbonized suppers.  And they were the colour of the ocean.

“It’s ok” I said.  “Remember, it’s not about the presents.  Anyway, I love the candle. And the oven gloves.  My favourite colour. Blue”.

I tried to say it with conviction but the words hung in the air.  They hung above the carpet and below the Christmas cards with robins and the three Wise Men. They hung in the space where the sparkly lap top should have been and where the golf bits could have sat on the carpet by the fireside.

They hung around long after the lights were turned out on the tree and the dishes were washed and the turkey crammed into the fridge, with the cold sprouts and roast potatoes.

And when everyone went to bed and the moon shone on the stars, the words still hung in the moonlight.

Happy New Year

Bhliain Mua Sasta (Irish)

Feliz Ano Nuevo (Spanish)

Buon Felice Anno Nuovo (Italian)

Gutes Neues Jahr (German)

Bonne Annee (French)