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Copyright Oggbashan November 2005
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
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The following are 15 fifty-word stories with a Christmas theme. The title isn't counted.
I stood watching as the civic leaders laid wreaths to commemorate the Commonwealth and Empire's dead of two World Wars. The faith leaders followed, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew and others. For all had lost co-religionists defending our democracies and freedom.
Is the brotherhood of the dead the only one possible?
I stood in the rainy street giving out charity fair handbills. With each one I wished a 'Happy Christmas'.
Some smiled, some scowled. No one replied.
A group of young women approached. They waved away my leaflet.
They surrounded and hugged me.
"That's for trying,' one said as they went.
Christmas Eve I watched my daughter hide her disappointment. She had missed her school's carol concert for another operation on her legs.
The doorbell rang.
"Can Joy come carolling?"
Our neighbour's son wheeled her chair out into the frosty street.
As her voice lifted in rousing chorus, Joy was unconfined.
04. No pets for Christmas.
My daughter Nadia helped every day at an animal sanctuary.
There was no room in our flat for pets. Gerald promised her a cat when we married.
"Nadia's on duty Christmas day. We'll come Boxing Day."
"I don't understand the necessity."
He wouldn't. I married someone who could understand.
05. Ignoramus. A true account.
"Ignoramus. We do not know." We refuse to give a verdict to condemn our fellow citizens to death for wanting to celebrate a Christian Christmas.
In 1648 two different juries at Canterbury defied Cromwell's Government. All defendants were freed and free beer flowed.
May we be as ignorant as they were.
06. Santa's Grotto
I sat in the grotto waiting for the next doting parents and their spoilt brat wanting expensive presents.
A thunder of excited feet heralded the arrival of twin four-year-olds.
They eagerly climbed to my lap.
"Will we see you tonight, grandpa?"
Your own grandchildren are always different - and perfect.
07. Paper Chains
"Remember the paper chains my mother used to make?"
"Yes. You can't buy the kits anymore."
"We made them ourselves. Our kids could."
"Trust our children with scissors and a sharp knife?"
"Why not? She trusted me. She watched but I made the chains."
Their friends now think we're cool.
08. Light in darkness
Our local council announced that it couldn't afford Christmas Lights in the streets this year. It had spent the money sending rescue teams to Pakistan for the earthquake.
We forgave them. The shopkeepers ran a competition for decorated windows. The winner would be the one that raised most for Pakistan.
09. Christmas Tree
Last year the town's Christmas tree fell over in a high wind. This year we would have no tree until someone said:
"Why not decorate the tree we already have?"
The old tree in the town's square has never looked braver.
No tree died. It'll still be there next Christmas.
Happy Christmas messages will not be allowed on public buildings this year. It isn't inclusive.
The private buildings have more Christmas signs than ever before.
The bright neon signs on the mosque and the synagogue are much appreciated, reminding us that goodwill is intended for all.
Inclusion is not exclusive.
"Do you remember being tired every Christmas Day?"
"Yes. We didn't get any sleep. We had to retrieve the presents from the hiding places, wrap them, put them under the tree..."
"...And the children would be up at five to find them."
"Now they have that problem. Good night, granny."
12. Stocking Fillers
Our daughters used to hang stockings up each Christmas Eve for Santa to fill with small presents such as oranges, chocolates, sweets and trinkets.
The family tradition has changed. We give them fancy pantyhose for Christmas wear. Now they fill their own stockings very effectively. Their husbands appreciate the filling.
13. Christmas Dinner
Stuffing the turkey, peeling, washing and roasting the potatoes, preparing the brussel sprouts... Christmas dinner for the family was hard work.
The adult children tried to take over granny's role.
A few years taking it in turns... We now book a restaurant. We all enjoy Christmas without guilt or recriminations.
We walk the dark streets hand in hand looking at the Christmas lights.
Every year there are more lights, more trees, more decorations and more money spent.
What would our wartime predecessors have said, sheltering in their blacked out houses?
"Thank God. The lights of London are lit up again."
What is the point of Christmas without acknowledging the birth of Christ?
Amid the decorations; the frantic buying, wrapping and sending of presents; the party planning; the family squabbles; the overindulgence... spare a thought for the child in the stable that started it all.
Christmas would be meaningless.