Day 18 - Story Advent Calendar.


Advent Calendar 18th December.

The Christmas Wish
Amanda Jack
16th December 2018

Ailsa placed another log gingerly on the newly lit fire. The tepee of kindling toppled, spreading red embers across the grate. As the flames licked at the dry foliage, the fire burst to life. Ailsa flopped back into the armchair beside the fire and closed her tired eyes for a moment, allowing the rising warmth to embrace her cold face. When she opened her eyes again, she noticed the track of mud and pine needles she had left across the carpet. ‘Damn!’ she cursed herself. Well, there would surely be many more needles to hoover up by the time the festivities are over. She wasn’t feeling any Christmas cheer as she reluctantly rose and began tidying up the mess.
The box of tinsel and baubles she had carefully brought down from the loft this morning, only reminded her of happier Christmas’ past. She began to sort through them, each one holding a special memory for her. The scratched bauble her father had given her when she was six, a reminder that she had played what her teacher called ‘The Red Bauble’ in her school play. There was the cardboard glitter star that her nephew Tommy had loving made for her, she turned it over to read the little message he had scrawled on the back, smiling as she placed it on the arm of the chair beside her. She moved a string of green tinsel to one side and there snuggled beneath it, wrapped in tissue paper was the little silk heart that Evan had given her. The message embroidered on the front declaring ‘A Loving Christmas Wish’. Evan said that it would bring them many happy Christmases in the long years to come. Ailsa could hardly hold back the tears which were now spilling down her cheeks. She thought of how much she missed him. He had been gone seven long, lonely months and every one of them had seemed like a lifetime. Ailsa held the little heart close to her chest and wished with her broken heart that Evan could be here with her now. She had been to collect the tree alone this year, for the first time. The man at the forestry kindly helping her to carry the tubbed spruce back to her car. Smaller this year because it didn’t seem as important to get the six footer Evan had always insisted on. In any case, how would she manage to set it up by herself if it was that big? The tree was Evan’s thing. He made such an event of the day. He would bring the tree home, all smiles and eyes shining like a small child, excited to see her face, knowing full well that she would be rolling her eyes in mock annoyance. ‘Did you have to get the biggest tree in the forest?’ she would exclaim. He would kiss her tenderly on the forehead and giggle, ‘Only the best for my girl’. Her heart sighed and her breath caught in her throat as a small sob escaped her. ‘Enough!’ she thought to herself, ‘Happy thoughts’. Ailsa tended the fire again then walked through to the kitchen to boil the kettle. Tea would make this better. The good ole Englishman’s cure for everything.
When she returned to the sitting room, she placed the tray of tea and biscuits on the coffee table. Remembering Evan renaming it ‘the tea table’ since neither of them liked coffee. Spying the half emptied box of decorations beside the armchair, she lifted it onto the sofa beside her. She reflected that seven months ago, she would have considered the box half full, not half empty. She dug deep into the bottom of the box and retrieved two sets of fairy lights. Would she use the colourful ones or would she go with the all gold classic ones? Another memory of she and Evan bickering over the decorations popped into her mind. How she wished she could bicker with him once again. He had loved the festive colours, the traditional reds and greens. He said that they were the proper colours of Christmas. She preferred to match gold and red together, much more stylish and modern. In the end they would make a compromise. The coloured lights would go on the tree and the gold ones around the fireplace. Ailsa decided to use the gold ones on the tree this year, ‘a new start’ she said to herself as she sent a small smile up towards Evan’s photograph on the mantelpiece. ‘You don’t really mind do you Darling?’ she asked him, knowing Evan would do whatever he could to please her if he were here. She would remember to add the strand of green tinsel to the tree later on, just to keep him happy. Eventually, the small tree was decorated and Ailsa was overwhelmed at how well she had done. It looked beautiful. As she admired her handy work, she noticed through the window that it was now getting dark outside. She drew the curtains, trying to make a cosier atmosphere. The glow of the fire and the twinkling of the fairy lights giving the full effect of Christmas.
As she looked at the tree, she reflected on how she hated having to make all the decisions alone now, even the simplest ones had become more of an effort to her. There was so much that they had taken for granted. They both thought that they had all the time in the world. Before that dreadful day, and the accident that had ripped her world apart, Ailsa had loved Christmas. It was their special time of year. They had met at a Christmas party given by mutual friends, and three years ago, Evan and she had married on Christmas Eve in the local church after the children had performed their nativity play. So for Ailsa and Evan, it had always been ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ as the song said. Ailsa never realised that last Christmas would be just that – their last one together. The pain was almost unbearable. Now the only thing that kept her going was the knowledge that once this festive season was over, her life would begin to regain some meaning. She would have something new to look forward to. Her world may begin to make some kind of sense at last.
Ailsa placed the presents under the Christmas tree. There weren’t too many of them but she had wanted to wrap them in green, red and gold paper especially for him. He would have liked that. As Elsa lifted the label on the biggest present, she read her own hand writing again ‘To the Best little lady in the world, with all my Love ~ Daddy’ Ailsa sat down in Evan’s favourite chair beside the fire and rested her hands on her swollen tummy. Feeling the baby kicking her, she knew that life was going to be a lot different next year. Ailsa sent up a silent prayer to thank Evan for leaving her with the best present of all. Their one Christmas wish had been granted.

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