A wave of depression washes over me whenever I recall that fateful night even though it has been almost six years since I uncovered the unwelcome, painful truth.
Christmas Eve had finally arrived. The bitter cold wind fought violently against my khaki, fur-rimmed hooded anorak attempting to infiltrate like the Snow Queen seeking her victim. Mother had wrapped me up like a Christmas turkey and only my awestruck eyes were exposed to the Snow Queen’s icy cold fingers. We strolled down Church Street ‘mother gripping my gloved hand tightly in hers, gently tugging me in the desired direction. I stumbled behind mesmerized by the bright flashing Christmas lights which flashed on and off bringing back memories of Bonfire Night Christmas songs bellowed out at every shop entrance and the aroma of roasting chestnuts and butter-coated popcorn wafted past
In my excitement I hardly noticed that we had finally reached our goal – the toy shop. Immediately we walked through the entrance to the shop I was captivated by my surroundings. My eyes wandered past the endless array of brightly coloured toys. My gaze finally fixed on it, a miniature wooden hand-carved sleigh; it was painted red and green with a small touch of gold for the finer detail. I looked up at mother hardly able to speak. “If you are a good boy then Father Christmas will bring you it tonight”
Mother did not realize that, although striking, it was not the actual diminutive sleigh itself that enthralled me but what it represented. It had been my dream for as long as I could Recollect that one day, possibly this year if I was really, really, good Father Christmas would let me accompany him on his enchanting sleigh. He wouldn’t have to take me far only across London or perhaps even to France.
That night we sat toasting marshmallows on the fireplace and I helped put out mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas. “What about Rudolph’s carrot?” I questioned mother. When my fatigue had finally overtaken my excitement I surrendered and went to bed. I lay my anorak, gloves and boots on my bedside table. They had to be close at hand should I need to leave with Father Christmas in a hurry.
A stumbling sound awoke me from my dreams. I walked hesitantly down the stairs. I peeped over the stair rail and tried to focus on a shadow by the Christmas tree. I looked closer, I could see the figure clearly now. Big black shiny shoes, trousers, blue jeans? DAD! What? He was placing presents under the tree! My heart shattered like a mirror smashing to smithereens against a cold marble floor. I sprinted back upstairs and threw myself onto my bed trying to digest the bitter reality of what I had just witnessed.
There had to be a rational explanation, I must have got the wrong end of the stick. Devastated, thwarted I began to accept that all my Christmas’ had been a lie. There was no Father Christmas. No Rudolph. No sleigh. It was all a conspiracy. My teachers were in on it The shopkeepers were in on it Grandma was in on it and what hurt most was that Mum and Dad had told the most lies.
This revelation marred my life, scarred my very being. I had taken every word my parents had spoken as gospel. I felt my carefree childhood years tumbling to an end.