A slightly different Christmas story
THE WEDNESDAY COLUMN
2000-12-13Just in time for the last Christmas of this century, I bumped into Santa Claus.
As I was jogging through snow-covered woods the other day I heard a well-known jingle of bells. "Why, thats ....", "Father Christmas" replied the man in red with the long white beard. He stopped his sleigh and got off to join me.
"Santa Claus", I cried, "Fancy meeting you here, in person! When its not even Christmas for several weeks yet!" "Aren you looking forward to Christmas at all?"
"How can I look forward to it when the only thing that counts these days is trying to commercialise Christmas! Come on, Santa Claus, jog along with me for a bit, then I can tell you why Im not happy with Christmas any more! Christmas is unfortunately no longer a feast of peace and tranquillity.
All the shop-windows are beautifully decoratedwith all the presents that people are supposed to give each other. Students dressed up as Father Christmas are on every corner, trying to encourage people to come into "their" shop. Christmas carols are playing in all the shops, each one louder than the other, and nobody is paying any attention to them People are rushing around looking stressed and irritated.Then they are happy when Christmas Eve comes and its all over as quickly as it came. It could all be so romantic!" "Yes, you e right there" replied Father Christmas "Many, many years ago I had much more fun being Father Christmas. Sometimes I dream that lots and lots of snow will fall a few days before Christmas, so much that there is an electricity cut on Christmas Eve and the whole country is thrown into darkness. Then in all the houses, people light candles and sit together by candlelight at the table. No TV, no video games, people play with their children. They sing Christmas carols together and tell their children the story of Christs birth... For the first time in ages, they invite the neighbours in for a chat. With nothing else to do, a lot of them even go to midnight mass. Everywhere is quiet and peaceful, the atmosphere is serene and cosy. A bit later, it stops snowing and lights come on. The loudspeakers start working again and the television comes on, and everywhere is so full of noise that a lot a people think back wistfully to that wonderful, peaceful Christmas."
"What a lovely dream", I said to Santa Claus and wiped a tear from my eyes. Then I waved him goodbye and jogged on. Was it just chance that it began to snow at that very moment?
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