Christmas Magic by Patricia Scanlan
I was driving with my young teenage niece recently, to do a supermarket shop, when she announced, with eyes sparkling, ‘I’m SO looking forward to Christmas.’
I was surprised. She’s generally very laid back and cool about stuff. I thought Christmas would be way too childish for her now that she’s grown, almost overnight, into such a tech-savvy sophisticated, perfectly made-up fashionista. I was even more taken aback when she started humming ‘Jingle Bells’ at the bread counter, oblivious to the surprise look from the shop assistant.
This is the niece who, with her sister, begged her mother and me to stop ‘making a show of them’ as we guffawed loudly and helplessly at Bridget Jones’s Baby during one of our ‘girls’ nights out. We generally go to see a film and have dinner together afterwards every six weeks or so. The rule of ‘no phones at the table’ can cause huge eye-rolling and gale-force sighs and the odd row or two. The same niece who explained kindly, while looking somewhat aghast, when I asked her why something about ‘Cookies’ was always coming up on my computer, that they were ‘not little biscuit things but small files holding data…’ – or something like that!
So I was really pleased that Christmas still seemed to be a highly anticipated event for this gorgeous niece of mine. I remember when she was having doubts about the existence of Santa one Christmas a couple of years ago, having heard ‘talk’ at school. She’d been asking for a mobile phone, knowing that her mother was adamant that she wouldn’t be getting one until she was in secondary school.
All us adults desperately wanted her to still believe in the magic of Christmas. She and another young nephew were the only ‘believers’ left of all her cousins. One of my most precious memories was staying at my sister’s on Christmas Eve and my niece so overcome with excitement when she discovered Santa’s arrival – at an unearthly hour – that she poked me awake, her eyes like saucers, literally unable to speak.
My sister and her husband had decided that they were going to get her a phone that Christmas anyway, and when she woke up on Christmas morning and found a brand new mobile phone in her stocking she was so stunned she said, ‘Now I know there’s really a Santa cos’ Mum wouldn’t let me get one.’ My sister of course pretended to be appalled, secretly thrilled that we had a believer for another year.
In the Christmas section of A Gift For You I write about that Christmas magic. In the title story we meet Magdalena, heavily pregnant and far from home, dreadfully lonely for her family and the Christmas traditions of her country. Her husband surprises her with a gift that means more to her than diamonds or gold.
I love writing Christmas stories, evoking the memories of countless happy Christmas spent with my parents, sister and four brothers. Like most families we all have our traditions and try to keep them going. I think our future Christmases are in very safe hands with our next generation, and that is a gift in itself. Happy Christmas, everyone. Enjoy the magic.