CHRISTMAS EVE

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For the first time in years, Sarah had a fireplace in her bedroom. On a whim, and in memory of her childhood, she put out offerings for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve: a glass of port, some mince pies, grass for his steeds. She had lit the fire (the nights were cold here) and went down to her study for an hour.

When she came back up, she could scarcely believe her eyes. The glass was empty, there were some crumbs on the plate, and there in her bed was a man. His red coat and high boots lay on the chair. He sat propped up on the pillows. His curly white beard shone in the firelight, and his stomach looked comfortable and accommodating. He had a mischievous smile. He stretched out his capacious arms to her, and said softly: “Sarah. Sarah”.

She ran into his arms, of course. His skin tasted of honey, and he was generous. No need for mistletoe tonight. Voluptuous, tender, glistening: it was all of that. Afterwards, she fell asleep for awhile, and said, like a child waking up on Christmas morning: “has Santa been?” He laughed: “well, my dear, Santa has certainly come”.

After he had gone, and she could no longer hear the sleighbells ringing, it began to snow harder. She went to the mirror and it seemed that she looked ten years younger than she had in the morning. She realised with a shock that she had actually fucked Father Christmas. She had, perhaps, broken all sorts of taboos, but it really felt quite nice. He was, after all, the patron saint of giving, of struggling through the snow to deliver to people their hearts’ desire. And then she knew without the shadow of a doubt that to love and be loved, even for a short time, was the best gift of all.