This is another little piece that I wrote for a creative writing course. It is a very accurate little snapshot of what life must have been like for my parents in raising a little terror like myself.
When I was a child, Christmas was everything, as I suppose it is for most young children. I wanted it to be Christmas every day!
Even in the middle of the year, I would beg my mother to put up are ancient, artificial tree, with its broken, bent and balding branches. Not because I wanted the presents, mind you, which seemed to be the end goal of Christmas when I was little- but because I wanted to see the Christmas lights.
I loved Christmas lights, and I suppose I still do to a somewhat lesser extent than I did back then. There’s just something about their bright colours and the warmth they give to a room that makes me feel relaxed and gives me that ‘home’ feeling to this day. Anyway, I digress.
I would be so very disappointed every year when on January 1st the lights would be untangled from the tree’s fake, green branches. They would then be wrapped around my Dad’s arm to keep them from tangling (a pointless effort since they obviously jump around in the bag when nobody’s looking and tangle themselves anyway) and put away in the cupboard under the stairs.
The disappointment would be easy to manage for a little while. My Mum and Dad would distract me with toys, books and games but it would never last. Inevitably, I would be crying for them to retrieve the lights and put up the Christmas tree.
‘But it’s not Christmas,’ my Dad would say as he tried hard to soothe a sobbing six-year-old me. ‘You can’t put Christmas trees up when it’s not Christmas!’
‘Please, put them back!’ I would beg, and sometimes I would become so distraught that I would try to climb to the back of the cupboard in an attempt to rescue them.
Other times I was just downright naughty and screamed and threw things at my parents. These tactics would never work, and for a little while after that, I would once again become distracted by other things.
It was usually around July when I would realise that Christmas was not too far away. All it would take is for someone to mention the word, and the whole debacle would begin again with me incessantly asking if it was nearly Christmas.
My parents would sit me down and explain for the gazillionth time in my short little life that Christmas is celebrated in December and that December was at the end of the year.
This imparting of information would typically result in a major temper tantrum and more questions about why I should have to wait such a long time for such a fantastic day or more begging and crying. My little mind just couldn’t absorb what they were trying to tell me.
‘We cannot put the tree up in the middle of July!’ my Mother would say. She would usually be at the end of her tether by this point. Most children were obsessed with Santa Claus or presents -or both. But not hers. No, her little boy was obsessed with multicoloured Christmas lights and would routinely accuse her and his father of stealing them and hiding them away from him.
It would get so bad that my Dad even covered the ends of a few torches with those brightly coloured, translucent chocolate wrappers from the Quality Street chocolates that relatives would invariably give my family for Christmas. He would place them in a line atop my chest of drawers when it was bedtime, and it worked for a while. I had the torches for about a year until they broke down from overuse.
Once, when I was five or maybe six years old, I had woken early when it was still pitch dark. I felt quite excited by the notion that I was free to do as I pleased. With everyone else still fast asleep, who was there to make me go back to bed and make sure that I wouldn’t get into mischief?
That’s right, nobody! So I made my way downstairs in the darkness, unable to reach a light switch.
The very first thing that I had thought to do was not mischievous at all. In actual fact, all I had wanted to do was watch cartoons. I had switched the TV on and plonked myself on the carpeted living room floor in front of it.
The problem was that back then there was only static on the airwaves until around 5.00 am so what inevitably happened next is really the fault of the television network executives.
Without cartoons to placate me, I turned my eye to the cupboard under the stairs, which was just visible in the hallway through the living room door. I jumped to my feet, and without thinking about the consequences of opening a cupboard that my parents had expressly forbidden me from entering, I did just that!
In front of me was the best sight in the whole world: the Christmas tree, the baubles, the tinsel and best of all, those Christmas lights!
I quickly got to work pulling the tree out of the cupboard and excitedly pulled its branches into position. Then, standing on a dining chair that I’d dragged from the kitchen, I draped the lights around it. I added the baubles and tinsel too, and finally -finally, I plugged the lights into the mains and switched them on.
It was a spectacular sight! As they lit up in all of their multicoloured magnificence, I remember a feeling of complete and total glee filling me all the way up to the top. Since my parents hadn’t been prepared to give in to me, I had taken it upon myself to free the lights and decorations from captivity and once my goal had been achieved all that was left to do was enjoy my work.
I lay on the floor with my head shoved underneath the Christmas tree looking up through the all of the branches. The lights twinkled, reflecting off the tinsel and baubles creating a wondrous kaleidoscope of colour and all I could do was grin at its sheer brilliance.
The next thing I knew I was awake and staring up into the angry faces of my Mum and Dad who were (and rightly so I must admit) yelling angrily at me. I didn’t care though, not one bit. In fact, I felt rather proud of myself, and I still feel that sense of pride whenever I think about our Christmas tree’s little mid-season outing to this day!
As always, thank you for reading if you did! Your time is very much appreciated.