“All set for Christmas, honey?” He asked.
“Yup Dad, and the tree looks pretty good, I am sure this time aunt Mary won’t get a chance to criticize your decorating skills!” said Jane with a smile that did not reach her eyes.
Everything was ready, the fire burned brightly, the curtains were drawn, the house looked warm and alluring, eagerly waiting for the guests to arrive. The scene outside was exquisite too; fluffy flakes of snow grasped onto the branches of the trees to render them their seemingly lost beauty, the entire landscape was clothed in snow, thin twigs had transparent icicles forming on them which shimmered like diamonds when they caught the glimmer of the setting sun. It was an ideal White Christmas.
Inside, the room was alive with excitement. The vibrancy of the room increased as guests flowed in through the door and each of them was welcomed with a pleasant “Merry Christmas”. Conversation rolled smoothly between the members of the gathering and sweet laughter was heard every now and then. The dining table seemed to have attracted many of the guests as it presented itself in its full glory; laid with roasted turkey, candied sweet potatoes, fruit cake, ginger bread, beer glasses and everything that could have constituted a lavish feast.
“Jane! Come here and join us, won’t you?” insisted her cousin. Jane made her way to where all her cousins were seated, trying to take in the happiness, wanting to surround herself with the merry atmosphere only to shovel away the macabre memories which made their way into her mind every Christmas. The warmth of the room did little to mitigate the chill that she felt every time she recollected the past. Still she smiled, trying to be cordial and friendly, hiding all the pain she felt with a prowess that was unnatural at her age. She had been doing the same for six years now, and this year proved to be no different.
The party ended and soon the guests departed. As she made her way up the stairs, she reinforced her mind to believe that she was never going to have the Christmas she desired for again. She opened the gifts that she had got; Dad had given her a beautiful pink sweater this time. She seemed to have everything a girl of her age would ever want except for the one thing she had been asking Santa for six years now.
Although she knew that it wasn’t a gift that Santa could ever give her, she nurtured a delusion that was hard to dismantle. It gave her the hope to wish for the same gift every year. It was only human nature- the surest of proofs are often disbelieved, reason takes a long time to assert its own sway. She laid on her bed pulling the comforter closer and retrieved a few pieces of parchment from under the mattress- the six secret letters she had written to Santa. The handwriting on them has changed over the years, but they all read the same;
I just want,
“A Cup of Mumma’s Hot Chocolate”
She adds the seventh letter to the pile and puts them back. She clutches the pillow harder as hot tears flood her eyes, threatening to roll down. She waits for the slumber to take over with the same words on her lips, “I miss you Mumma.”