Together they created the most amazing dream. Together they executed it. One was captain and the other was first mate and then from time to time they would switch. Their names were Half and Ling. They a had target that was firmly set by Half and nebulously set by Ling. Both targets were slightly different but on the same distant isle. His was the tower and hers was the spiral stair inside. At the top there was the light and each would hold it in his or her gaze but intermittently, for the light was continuously spinning and blinking from dark to bright.
Ling would spend a lot of time stargazing on the deck of the boat while Half was beneath decks performing maintenance to keep the systems running and plotting routes on charts. The boat only moved forward if they would meet from time to time and give thanks and hugs to one another and smile into each others eyes and laugh. The rest of the time the boat stood still. It was a magic boat. And yet it would not run by itself. It did require both maintenance and stargazing.
The Best Christmas Ever
“This was the best Christmas I ever had,” said three of the kids. They say that every year and mean it. I think they just love Christmas. The eldest kid usually says it too, but not this year since this year he didn’t get exactly what he wanted. He had wanted a relatively expensive Lego Technics set and the Christmas Elf felt this particular set didn’t align with her own particular Christmas values and so the set was not bought and instead there was a Meccano motorized sports car which could be transformed 25 ways into other vehicles and since the eldest kid is into technics and cool stuff she thought it would be perfect, but hey you win some and you lose some. He was a very good sport about it.
In the beginning we did not call it Christmas. I had come from a happy childhood like the ones our children now have, where everything was received within reason. As I grew into a teen and began to rebel against everything and anything I decided that Christmas was a commercial farce and that it had better be called “Solstice Season” for those of us who were not Christian, or “Festivus (for the rest of us)” as Seinfeld laster suggested, or perhaps simply Winter Holiday. When Half and I became whole he felt the same way and we soon were known to some of our friends and relatives as the Bah Humbugs and the Grinches Who Stole Christmas. One relative who was not really a relative gave us a Bah Humbug cushion one year to commemorate this fact. I felt this wasn’t really in keeping with the Christmas spirit. I had made him homemade treats with a painted card and it had taken quite some time to make, and I was not a fan of overstuffed red velvet pillows with gold cording and Bah Humbug embroidery which had been fabricated by children operating machines in far-away factories so that the relative could buy it at the local mega-department store for five dollars as a lark. But these are the beautiful irritations of Christmas.
When the kids were old enough to understand words we decided that we would not tell them lies and yet I would try to preserve the magic as much as possible.
The first magical Christmas was when Sweet Pea was nearly five and Chipmunk Cheeks had just turned three and we had newly arrived in France. We lived in the artistic apartment that Half’s artist uncle and aunt had created into one end of their barn. I loved that the barn had no doors at that time and was open to the air, and in the centre of the open-sided barn, under the very high tiled roof, there was an octagonal pool that uncle and aunt had fit into a cavity which they and their friends and relatives had dug by hand over a period of years.
The pool sat clean and cold, a deep jewel just outside the artistic apartment. Each morning I would wake, strip off my clothes in the icy coldness of the fall-turning-winter air, hearing the rooster rasp out its belligerent call in uncle and aunt’s chicken coop which was just the other side of the barn. There was no one around and I would clasp the curved rails at the top of the pool’s ladder and step down into the clean and turquoise water which sparkled in the starlight. The water was bracing cold and made my eyebrows go up and my lips purse. At that moment I would have to plunge completely in or change my mind.
My belly was a taught burgeoning melon with Ginger Man inside and together my belly and I would dip beneath the water, three strokes to the other side and back again and then a whoosh of water droplets clattering like wet stars behind us as we climbed the ladder, tingling alive from every part and suddenly aware of the fire within us. I would look down and marvel at the perfection of my belly with its protruding belly button cresting like a nipple at the end of it and I would feel Ginger Man undulating like a wave inside. I would dry myself off with one of aunt’s fluffy towels and get quickly dressed in many layers of clothes and feel warm most of the day after that, and content to be continuously in contact with a symbiotic being.
That Christmas was to be the first one I would ever experience as magical since I was a child and this is how it went down:
I bought a couple of cheap red velour Christmas stockings like the ones my sister and I had had as a child with the white fluffy tops; yes the kind that are made in factories somewhere, possibly by children but there was not time nor money to worry about that while generating magic alongside all the other tasks we were engaging with at that time. I embroidered the names of Sweet Pea and Chipmunk Cheeks on the white tops of the stockings, just as my and my sister’s names had been embroidered on ours when we were little. I also bought clementines (in Canada we’d called them “Mandarin oranges”), walnuts, foil-wrapped chocolates and a small lego set for each child, small enough to fit in each stocking.
The night before Christmas we read “The Night Before Christmas” then tucked the boys into their beds, which were in the same room as ours in the artistic barn apartment. In the morning they awoke at the usual time, but when we brought them downstairs they saw these two Christmas stockings filled to brimming.
The way their eyes widened and stared in amazement was very filling for the soul. How did they get there? Sweet Pea wanted to know. I was grinning from ear to ear and it felt like stars were sparkling all around us. Do you think Santa could have brought them? I suggested, wide-eyed myself. I had promised myself I would not lie but I’d not promised anything about not suggesting.
Their faces grew more and more astonished and excited as they drew their own conclusions, imagining the reindeer on the roof and a magical man merrily delivering small toys and chocolates. The two children were tapped into the magic of belief in magic, and their solstice-seasoned, Bah-Humbug parents were tapped into the magic of their belief.
- Lighthouse photo by Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash
- Note to self 2018-01-08: two “Sweat Peas” found and fixed 😆
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment — or send a quick email via the contact page. Thank you for reading. 🖤