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A Christmas Wish

Dec 19, 2012
A children’s story for Christmas, by Steve Jordan.

There were lots of things that Jamie wanted for Christmas.  He wasn’t a greedy boy you understand, he just liked doing lots of things.

Jamie would have asked Father Christmas for a new bike, he’d grown out of his old one and anyway it still had the little wheels on the side and they were only for babies, but he’d got one only a few weeks before, for his ninth birthday. It was red and shiny and his mum and dad had wrapped it up in X-men paper and tied it with red string.  But that was before Dad and Jake went away.

Since then things had changed. Dad had gone to work in Afghanistan.  He was a soldier.  A sapper Dad said, but Jamie didn’t know what that meant. Jake, his elder brother, was 20 and he’d gone away too.  He was working as a barman in London.  Jamie and his mum hadn’t seen him for months.

Only a few days ago Jamie had written his Christmas list and sent it up the chimney just as Dad had shown him. He’d asked for some roller blades, three Xbox games (but Mum didn’t like him having the fighting ones), an I-Pod (which he knew was too expensive but …), some Nike trainers, a rucksack for the next scout camp, and lots more that he couldn’t remember.  He wanted all of them, and none of them.  He would have given up them all, screwed up the list and never looked at it again, if Father Christmas would just make his mum smile again.  Smile the way she used to do, with her eyes and her heart, not just her mouth.

It was Christmas Eve.  It was nearly 9.00pm and Jamie had sat still and quiet for ages hoping that mum would forget to send him to bed.  But eventually she read him his bedtime story, gave him a hug and shushed him up the stairs.   “Now no getting up Jamie,” she said, “or Santa might not come.”

Jamie lay awake. He wanted Christmas day to come but it wouldn’t be the same with just the two of them.  As he lay staring at the ceiling of his bedroom in the half light, he became aware of something.  It wasn’t frightening. It was warm, gentle, kind. It was there, but it wasn’t anywhere.  And there was a really strong smell of sweet spice, just like the candle that burned on the hearth in the living room. There was no sound, nobody spoke, but Jamie knew something.  He knew for sure what this ‘presence’ was asking him to do.  He had to make a wish.  Just one.  Not like in the stories where the genie grants three wishes.  Without hearing or seeing a thing, Jamie knew that he had only one.  He could wish for anything in the world and it would be his.  Would it be the I-pod, the trainers, the blades …

Christmas morning came and Jamie remembered his strange dream from the night before.  It was still dark but Jamie figured he’d waited long enough. He crept into his mum’s room, tugged at the duvet and climbed in with her.  It was warm, safe and scented in the big bed, at mum’s side it was anyway. Jamie could never understand why mum always slept on her side of the bed even when dad wasn’t there. “Mum, can we get up now? Can we see if he’s been?”

The lights of the tree twinkled as Jamie and his mum peeped around the living room door.  There, as Jamie had hoped, was a small pile of presents just for him.  He opened one, then another.  Then he stopped, ran upstairs and came down, beaming, holding a package, lovingly wrapped in white paper with a red-nosed reindeer motif, for his mum.  She smiled, the thin one he’d grown used to, opened the parcel, hugged him and, he thought, wept a little.

Nanna arrived and helped mum make dinner.  She was a good nanna but Jamie wished she wouldn’t always want to kiss him.  The hair on her chin always tickled. Grandad and Grandma came soon after. Each brought something for Jamie.  By midday he was wearing his trainers, the Xbox games - the fighting ones - were already upstairs in his room and Grandad had a twinkle in his eye.  His new I-pod, from Mum and Dad, was already downloading his favourite stuff off the computer.

Then, the doorbell rang.  “Hi Mum, hi Jamie” came the shout as Jake poked his head around the door.  Mum hugged him really hard.  She was crying again but this time the tears were different. This time they were of relief.  Tears of joy for Jake’s safe return.  “Hi Buster,” said Jake to Jamie.  He always called him Buster; Jamie didn’t know why but he kind of liked it.  “Beat you at Xbox.”  He picked Jamie up and swung him around twice. 

As his feet touched the carpet something strange happened: Jamie could smell sweet spice again.  He looked around but there was nothing to be seen. Then he heard a car horn outside and a door bang.  His mum dashed into the room, taking off her cooking apron as she ran. She said nothing, just squeezed Jamie and Jake’s hands. At the mirror in the hall she paused, touched her hair, smoothed her skirt and opened the front door.  Jamie stood, held his brother’s hand, as the sweet smell of Christmas spices grew stronger and stronger.

As he waited, Jamie held his breath, but he already knew that last night had been no dream - and his Christmas wish was about to come true.

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