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Advent Calendar 2016

4th Sunday of Advent | Day 18 | Advent Calendar

Today is a special day for this Advent Calendar, instead of having two guests the calendar will be home to many contributions, by contributors who have been part of this year’s calendar or will be part of it in the coming week.

Christmas Lights by Lucy Brazier

Christmas had always been a funny time of year for Mary. As a child, she loved it, even
though the weeks of endless anticipation agonised her. The tree at her grandparents’
house seemed to her the biggest in the land and she struggled to imagine a grander meal
anywhere than her Nanna’s Christmas dinner. Her mother and uncles would dance, while
her auntie’s dog slept by the fire. Once, she had even been cast as her namesake in her
school nativity play, a source of great pride at the time. A golden time.
Teenaged festivities had often been awkward. She stood on the edge of the family circle,
looking in at the sparkly warmth. They must have looked to her on the outside and
wondered why she was too afraid to be welcomed in. But the lights were still beautiful and
the tree still the best and Mary would search inside for the little girl that loved them so
As a young woman, Christmas was the party season. Work parties, house parties, dinner
parties – for many years she spent the whole of December in hairspray and sparkle. Mary
was never a great beauty but she was witty and made the best of herself. She had friends
of every conceivable style and there was always an admirer to hand, should one be
required. But no matter where she awoke on Christmas morning, Christmas lunch was
always to be at her grandparent’s table. The tree, now that she noticed it, was barely taller
than herself and the chocolates that were once the size of her head barely filled the palm
of her hand. The same decorations would once again be dutifully unpacked and placed
with scrupulous care on the boughs, neither their magic nor their charm dimmed by the
decades. The lights seemed more beautiful than ever and the surrounding chatter of her
loved ones would sing her to sleep, curled up in her Nanna’s favourite chair.
The flurry of husbands that occupied a large chunk of Mary’s life during her prime made
Christmases an altogether more obligatory affair. In-laws and outlaws, step-children and
other hangers-on made for a lot of driving and little time for mirth. Some years, she didn’t
make it to her grandparent’s house. But the years she did, she treasured. No matter who
was on her arm or at her knee, she became the little girl once more, delighting at the fuss
from her mother and Nanna.
And now the years and passed and Mary couldn’t tell you what she did with them.
Husbands all dead, leaving her no children, Mary was happy with her own company.
Christmas now was quiet, reflective and spent watching the garden robins through the bay
window. There was no tree, nor Christmas dinner, nor fuss of any kind. But Mary was
curled up in her grandmother’s favourite chair and as dusk gave way to nightfall, the stars
reminded her of the lights, the lights that had never looked more beautiful. If she closed
her eyes she could still hear the family chatter, but it seemed to call her not to sleep but to
awakening. No longer on the outside, afraid and cold, but walking arms outstretched to the warm glow of family that had been there all along. The lights blazed and her heart sang, and this Christmas, she was the little girl once again.

Lucy had the honour of opening the calendar with the “Tale of the Cursed Hat“, today I have the great honour to welcome her back for a second post in this year’s edition of the Advent Calendar. She was also a guest for the first edition of the Calendar with “Christmas: the Perfect Excuse for a Fight“. Check out her blog, I am sure you will love it!