Christmas is only a couple days away. I haven’t posted here during the past month as I’ve been busy finishing off writing assignments – articles based on my interview with The Priests and an article for the Impartial Reporter about the Fermanagh Creative Writing Group. The articles have now been filed and I think I will wind down and enjoy the holiday season.
Christmas means different things to each of us. One of the important aspects for me is re-discovering childlike wonder in simple things. These moments keep us in love with life and remind us why we want to be here.
So I’d like to share a passage from my novel, Hitler and Mars Bars. For me this scene evokes that wonder that I never want to lose.
Erich and Paul sat up in their beds as the grey light streamed in the skylight and window.
“I hope Father Christmas brought me a lorry!” Paul said.
“He come?” Erich asked.
A door creaked, then footsteps padded along the hall carpet. Margaret shrieked with glee. Erich and Paul rushed into the hallway. A trail of silver flakes ran along the red wool carpet from their bedroom to the sitting room.
“What that?” Erich asked, pointing at the glittering carpet.
“It’s angel dust. It leads us to the gifts,” Paul replied.
The flakes scattered under their bare feet as they ran to the sitting room. Margaret was seated cross-legged on the floor in front of the tree. Gifts, wrapped in bright patterns and plain colours with handmade tags, were piled under the tree almost touching the lower branches. Paul leaned over to read the nearest tags.
“That’s mine!” he exclaimed, after inspecting one.
Erich bent to look under the tree, surprised to see so many parcels sitting there. He looked behind the sofa and then pulled the curtains back to look behind them. Uncle Richard and Auntie Alice came in, dressing gowns wrapped around them and tied securely to keep out the chilly early morning air.
“What are you looking for, Erich? All the gifts are under the tree,” Auntie Alice said, noticing him prowling around the room.
“Angels,” Erich replied.
Auntie Alice looked at Erich, puzzled. Erich looked up at the top of the tree and then around the back of it. Paul stopped trying to read the tags and glanced at Erich.
“He’s looking for the angels who left the angel dust,” he said.
Auntie Alice smiled.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll find them there. You’re not meant to see them. Now, children, go and get dressed while Daddy lights the fire. Then you may each open one gift before church.”
I was asked, in an interview last year for Wendi’s Book Corner, why I included this passage in the story. This ‘custom’ of sprinkling ‘angel dust’ is not a tradition in Ireland; a woman I know told me that her family did this when she was a child. I found it a charming and unusual idea and I thought it illustrated a child’s innocence and delight so wonderfully that I had to include it. Wendi, the interviewer who asked me about this passage, liked the custom so much that she decided to use it in her own family last year for her son who turned two years old on Christmas Eve.
Whatever traditions or customs you and your family have, I hope you have a Christmas filled with wonder.