A Christmas Revelation
Egg Flip and Mince Pies
The light from the big house glowed yellow in the distance. Every year since I could remember I had wondered what it would feel like to spend Christmas up there, the allure of such a different life feeding my childhood imagination. As children we had always marvelled at the swathes of decorations adorning the gates and grand entrance to Marley Hall, and wondered how many glowing lights filled the house with splendour. In contrast our worn cottage on the edge of the rambling estate was warm, sparse in furniture, yet crammed with life. I had revelled in the security of sixteen Christmases here, but this might be my last. I fondly remembered our enthusiasm as we transformed our gamekeeper’s cottage with the holly and ivy we gathered noisily every Christmas Eve morning. The painful pricks from the holly leaves forgotten when our proud faces surveyed our creativity. Occasionally we were lucky enough to have some red ribbon to really embellish our home.
Secretly I had always wished I could spend Christmas Day up in the spacious warmth of the house, running through hallways dressed in the heaviest velvet leaving a wake of presents to mark my adventure. I had dreamt of cream kid boots and matching gloves smoothed over my rough skin and a never ending supply of candy. My innocence persuaded me that contentment came from indulgent parents and a plethora of servants answering my imaginary whims.
Now I realised every Christmas Day had been joyous here with my mam and my dad and my three brothers and four sisters. Of course there had been fights and frantic orders as the time of dinner approached. I marvelled now at the feast my mam always prepared for us in the cramped kitchen with a baby at her feet. She never failed and the fullest feeling that my belly had all year reassured me Christmas was happily here again; my precious gift a new ribbon for my hair or maybe a pretty dress if it had been a good year. In the midst of today’s celebration I realised our gleeful delight came from each other. My dreams of being allowed to skip freely alone through echoing rooms and vast hallways would have brought me a minute’s pleasure. This smoky stone room encases my happiest memories.
The New Year will beckon me to my adult life. I am leaving for service on the 1st January, 1931. My new home will be a big house thirty miles from here. I do not know when I will next cram around our proudly scrubbed table and laugh and cry and wish my family Merry Christmas. “Josie get over here and get those spuds off the range.” The command fractures my daydream and I jump up to do my bit. I know this Christmas will be my happiest ever, as I appreciate what I truly have, the love and kindness of all around me.
Sarah Barry lives in Co. Kildare, Ireland where she recently completed a creative writing course with the inspirational author Niamh Boyce. Sarah has been focussing on writing Flash Fiction and Short Stories, as rapid bursts of writing have to fit around caring for her four children. Sarah’s first published work was a flash fiction included in the anthology Once Upon A Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales (ed. SJI Holliday and Anna Meade) and another flash fiction was included in the “Flash Flood” that cascaded throughout the 12th October, 2012. Sarah’s blog can be found at www.relishingwriting.blogspot.ie or follow her on twitter @saraheebarry