Wednesday, 24 December 2014

5 Days of Solitaire: #4

Visible horizon
Right where it starts and ends
When did we start the end?

Visible illusion
Where it starts it ends
Love like a sunset

Michael Holden, 24th December

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. Always has been. Always will. December is my favourite month and winter is my favourite season, snow is my favourite weather, I’ve had fairy lights in my room since the Christmas of ’02. You can’t stop me. I’m a Christmas elf on the inside.

Unfortunately, I was born into a family that treats Christmas like it’s the birthday of someone they’ve had a severe argument with. Every year my parents refuse to let me put up the Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve, which I think must be some sort of crime under the laws of general happiness and joy.

But it’s here.

At last.

Christmas Eve.

Decorating time.

I have the house to myself because my parents, in case you don’t already know, are sort of extremely professional people. I’m still not one hundred percent certain what my Mum’s job title is, but they both travel a lot and to cut a long story short, this is my house, in my opinion, since I am here the most. And on Christmas Eve, it’s especially mine.

I wake up at nine-ish, which is fairly average for me in a school holiday. I’ve never needed much sleep. I’ve been eating porridge for breakfast recently because it’s supposed to be healthy and I’m trying to eat well over the holiday because I’ve got this competition coming up in January but honestly it tastes like melted, lumpy cardboard. I miss the days when I could just eat chocolate cake all day and not care.

Our house is really weird, by the way. It’s not quite on a cliff face because, like, danger. But you are basically looking over the river from very high up in the countryside. We’ve got one huge window in the lounge looking out over the river and the fields and the horizon. My Dad always says that they chose this house because of that view, which is weird, since they don’t get much opportunity to look at it. I do though. I appreciate it. It’s nice to sit in the lounge and eat your breakfast and look out the window. It’s good at sunset.

Christmas Eve is also great because it gives me an excuse to go in the loft, which rarely happens. I head up there after breakfast. I like going in the loft because there’s always some new treasure to be found up there, plus, climbing ladders is a thrill in itself. I bump my head on the roof ceiling, which has happened most years since I was thirteen. On the floor there’s a Duran Duran record, so I pick it up and put it on top of a pile of other records. On a dusty bookshelf, there’s an ancient edition of The Game of Life. Once I’ve gathered together all the Christmas decoration boxes, I grab the game, just in case my family are in a jovial mood tomorrow. Not overly likely, but if I put it on the lounge table, maybe Grandad will be tempted.

This sounds really bad but I really can’t wait until I leave home and can have my own Christmas with someone else and their family. Or even by myself, I don’t think I’d mind.

I’d decorate the house immediately on the first of December. There’d be advent candles in every single room. I’d be one of those crazy people who has fairly lights and inflatable Santas all over their house. Children would ask their parents to take a detour just to drive past my magical Christmas wonderland. I’ll be the crazy old Christmas man who lives alone in the sparkly house.

Once putting Now That’s What I Call Christmas on full blast over the lounge surround sound, the Christmas tree is the priority, obviously. Since I’ve put it up by myself for several years, it only takes fifteen minutes to assemble, but the next two hours after that are spent carefully decorating the tree. I bought a whole load of new decorations and tinsel this year, and having gone for a silver and blue theme, the finished result definitely looks like the Ice Queen of Sibera’s royal palace Christmas tree.

I bring down all my presents to put them underneath – Mum’s, Dad’s, my grandparents’ and my Aunt’s. We don’t have a very big family and I didn’t have to get any for friends this year so fortunately that gave me lots of money for buying Christmas decorations because I don’t really think I can ask Mum and Dad to buy any since they hate Christmas.

Elf is on TV at lunch, aka, the best Christmas movie to ever exist, since I am basically Buddy the Elf. For lunch this holiday I’ve literally just been eating chicken with a huge amount of salad. Again, all completely flavourless and dull, but apparently it’s good for you. I’m a little sceptical but my coach won’t shut up about chicken. Seriously.

I briefly check Facebook while watching the film but there’s nothing much on there. I still haven’t really added anybody from my new school since I moved. I haven’t really gotten to know anyone. I know it’s my fault. I’m kind of weird, to be honest. Even the teachers think I’m a bit weird. I’ve stopped contributing in lessons now because I swear every time I open my mouth, nonsense poems come out. I think I just need to be more normal.

I’ll just have to try again next term, I suppose.

The afternoon is spent doing up the rest of the house. Fairy lights everywhere. Tinsel everywhere. Mistletoe in the porch, wreath on the door. I stick all of the Christmas cards my parents have received on the kitchen wall – they just looked sad in that neat little pile in the filing cabinet in my Mum’s office. Now That’s What I Call Christmas has repeated probably ten times. Suddenly it’s six o’clock and I need to eat again, so I make a stir fry and put The Nightmare Before Christmas on and try to sing along while eating at the same time.

I check Facebook again but, honestly, I don’t know why I do that. There really isn’t anything on there.

I have Tumblr since I heard someone talk about it at school but it seems kind of complicated and I haven’t quite faced the idea of sitting down and learning how to actually use it. Everyone at school talks about Tumblr, so I guess I thought... I don’t know.

Dad gets in at seven. He wanders into the lounge immediately laughs at the decorations.

“Good lord, you’ve really gone to town this year, haven’t you, lad?”

I’m still mid-way through The Nightmare Before Christmas, slumped on the sofa. “Well I only get it for two days a year. So I make the most of it.”

“If it was like this for a whole month, I think I’d go insane,” says Dad with a chuckle, and he leaves the room to go and change. I feel almost sort of pleased at Dad’s obvious disapproval. When I have a house, it’s going to be so Christmassy that it could kill a person with happiness.

Mum gets in about twenty minutes later. She doesn’t even say anything about the decorations, she just makes a cup of tea and then comes to see me.

“Michael, darling, did you have anyone you wanted to invite to Boxing Day?”

We always go to our distant cousins’ house for Boxing Day, in which boyfriends and girlfriends are welcome. Mum’s been hinting boyfriends and girlfriends at me for a good three years.

“No, just me,” I say.

“You can bring a friend if you want.”

“Er,” I say, “I think they’re all busy.”

Mum nods. She believes me. “Oh, yes. Fair enough.” There’s a pause. She glances at the tree. “Ooh, loving the silver and blue this year, darling. Very icy.”

“My inspiration was Siberian royalty.”

She just laughs in that little way that people do when they don’t really know what I’m talking about.

“Have you eaten yet?”


“Okay. Well let us know when your film’s done so Dad and I can have the TV.”


She leaves.

I settle back into the film. I think about what other people do on their Christmas Eves. I think it would be nice if there were more people around, but I make the best of what I’ve got. I’m not going to let myself get sad or angry about anything. I’m just going to enjoy Christmas.

I mouth along to the words of the finale, where Jack Skellington and Sally sing in front of the moon. I wouldn’t call myself lonely. I don’t think. That'd be really stupid. Wouldn't it?

Author's note:

day 4 of the 5 days of Solitaire! here's my boy. Michael Holden. i loved writing this story. i hope you enjoy reading it. and i hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow! i've written the final story, and i'll post it some time during the day. *** merry christmas ***