Christmas Spirit

©Pete Malicki 2005

‘It’s him! There he is!’

A young child dislodged his hand from his mother’s and broke into an awkward run. The big man with the beard caught sight of the little guy speeding towards him, but he pretended that he hadn’t. A surprise is always better.‘Santa!’His startled expression met the excited one of the boy, giving him just enough time to catch thirty kilos of grimy flesh. ‘Ho ho ho! How are you going boy?’‘I wanna car! It’s got stripes on it, and the doors open, and you can pull it back and let it go and it goes along the ground, and I want Harry Potter, and I want the new…’The mother came gliding over and exchanged a knowing smile with the man on the chair. His teeth showed slightly, as did the black whiskers underneath his white beard. ‘And what is it that you want the most, little man?’Santa’s gaze met that of the child’s. That look. That desire. The love for something you’ve never even held before; for something of which you’ve only dreamed. ‘I want a puppy,’ was his sober reply.This was the cue. The man’s gentle eyes flitted up to those of the mother. The subtle movements of her cheeks and mouth spoke more clearly than any words she might have uttered. ‘I think,’ said the Santa, ‘that you may be pleasantly surprised this Christmas.’That was all the boy needed to hear. Without the pleasantries an older person may have offered, he dropped to the ground and quickly reattached himself to his mother’s hand. She smiled a thank you to the man as they walked away.It was barely fifteen seconds before a small girl released the grip she had on her father.
Blackness. Such a stark contrast to the vivid thoughts in his head. His eyes flick open and the blackness remains.Tomorrow is the day. The milk and the cookies are on the table so the man has all the incentive he needs to come tonight. Perhaps he’ll be here soon. Perhaps he’ll make a sound…The boy rolls over to stare at the ceiling. During the day it’s blue, but night saps the colour out of everything. Everything is black.Minutes stretch out like a spring being pulled. A second becomes slower. Time marches on and the boy squeezes his eyes shut, trying to force his consciousness to fade. It only makes him think of how much he wants to get to sleep.The wristwatch beside the radio makes a beeping noise; the third that the boy has heard since he lay down in his bed. This makes it midnight. The day has finally arrived.But even though it’s now Christmas, it’s only Christmas in name. It doesn’t really begin until the morning comes, and morning only comes after sleep.Frustration at this unwanted wakefulness arises, but excitement overrides it in seconds. Those long, slow seconds. As he rolls and stares at the wall he begins to think that he’ll lie here forever, waiting.Santa will be coming down the chimney soon. Well, apparently he’ll be using the window because the chimney’s blocked with sticks and dirt, but he’ll be here soon all the same.The boy perks up as he hears a noise. Was that him, walking down the hallway? He becomes paralysed with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.The noise passes and he lies there, staring at the blackness of the door. The clock in the other room can just be heard, a faint reminder of time’s passing.He rolls over and shuts his eyes…
He rolled over and opened his eyes as the sun’s first rays poked in through the gap between the blind and the windowsill.The boy was out the door before his blankets landed on the carpet. Out there in the lounge room lay a dozen packages, wrapped neatly in a variety of bright papers. The branch of the pine tree they were beneath seemed to be radiating with more than just the colourful lights.Sitting cross-legged under the tree, he tentatively stroked one of the packages. Firm edges on one side and a soft plasticy feel to the other.But he knew better than to open one of the presents without his mummy. Picking up his favourite stuffed friend (who’d followed him from the bed), he ran down the hall and into a spacious room.The mother stretched and yawned as her thirty kilos of progeny landed beside her, the smile on her face hiding the lonely look in her tired eyes. There was no daddy beside her for the child to hug when he was done with her. She understood the desire for another living creature.‘How are you going, Jeremy love?’‘There are presents under the tree! I thought I heard him walking past my room last night. There was a “creak” from the floor, then a “tap” on the walls.’Her face softened with a look of love as her boy rambled on excitedly. It almost seemed unfair how much enjoyment children could have. May nothing change this, she thought.‘Well then sweetheart. Let’s go and see what Santa brought for you this year.’The boy got up and ran back to the Christmas tree, his mother following with a medium-sized package concealed behind her back. They sat down together.‘I wanna open this one first.’He took the little package he’d been fondling just a moment ago and teased the sticky tape off the wrapping. The slower he went, the longer the feeling would last.Paper unfolded to reveal a large bag of lollies bound by a sheet of folded-over cardboard. His fingers paused at the staples as he caught the disapproving look on his mother’s face. ‘Not until you’ve had your breakfast, sweet.’Nodding obediently, the boy moved on to his next present. It was larger than the lollies and rectangular in shape, and when uncovered turned out to be a box. This box contained a toy car with stripes and doors that opened. He grinned from ear to ear and placed it reverently beside himself, vowing to finish unwrapping his presents before he played with it.Next was a soccer ball, poorly concealed with its spherical shape. A jumper followed, then a toy soldier, some more lollies, a Harry Potter book, and several other things that the boy was bound to love. But when the last present was open, it was difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed.He turned his big, pleading eyes up to his mother. ‘What’s wrong dear?’ she asked with an invisible smile.‘Nothing,’ he mumbled in reply, poorly failing to conceal the fact that he was upset.The mother reached behind her back and gently revealed the hidden present. ‘Oh, look what I found,’ she exclaimed. A surprise was always better. ‘Santa must have put it in the wrong place by accident.’The boy bounced on the present with a heart full of ecstasy. He knew, he simply knew what it was. With tender joy, he peeled back the pieces of sticky tape one by one until the paper was free to fall off, revealing an old shoe box with airholes poked through it.This is the happiest moment of my life, he thought as he gingerly lifted the lid.There was a puppy laying inside the box. It had suffocated and died.

Christmas Spirit


Joined January 2009

  • Artist

Artist's Description

A child has a Christmas wish. Will it come true?

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.