Turn Left at The Bakery

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When You Believe…….

I think to some, it’s rather like Marmite!!….you love it or you hate it, but which ever side of the fence your preferences lie, Its here again !! and that for sure cant be avoided ,try as you may!

The commercialised songs, The TV ads that bring a Smile,a Tear, or an ” Aaaaarh” …..The supermarkets full of festive cheer and fraught individuals who seem to think that after the 25th food will not be available any more !!  and then of course “The Stores”….who choose in August to advertise Sun Tan creams whilst ” Up on the 4th” we have Sleigh bells and Baubles,glitter and …….Santa!!

Yes! you’ve guessed it… Christmas!!That season to be happy and jolly and full of goodwill! (when almost everyone one meets is full of some kind of tale about Christmas and its disasters!!!)It is a strange time really, as its so full of expectations of magic and wonder, log fires and snow,and happy gatherings around a perfectly cooked turkey,where fairies do the clearing up and no one puts on a pound !!…Lovely!!! “It is what it is”……. But……. why cant it be exciting and full of wonder and joy and magical moments ?Did we as children think of all the negative sides of Christmas?…no, it was THE most exciting time……Christmas hasn’t changed,same time of year, same days…..for some, only the mindset has changed…magic has been replaced by sensible logic,and wonder by practicality……but just because the years have passed, who states that we cant recapture that magic and wonderment of Christmas?

Yesterday I was wrapping presents and watched two films, “Scrooge” and ” The Miracle on 34th Street” both of which I love, and they both happened to be on television…..an orgy of ” Feel Good Factor” re Christmas,especially the scene in which Scrooge dresses up as Santa, having seen the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future,and, on Christmas morning off he trots out delivering toys and turkey,singing and dancing to the song ” Thank you very Much”…….I was there with him !!…..

I wanted to run along the streets of North London doing the same!!dancing with the passers by and swinging round the lampposts with  a traffic warden!!!….but that’s what these films do!….I love it,……..and in the Miracle on 34th Street, I swear that at the end of it,I am as convinced that Santa Claus  exists as I was when I was seven !!…

The power of a wonderful Christmas story is almost as powerful as Christmas itself….The Little Match Girl was always another favourite of mine too, I remember  so well,the bedtime story of a poor homeless little girl who used to sell matches on the streets,when, one night, she was so cold she struck all the matches just so that she could see visions of Christmas as she imagined it,in the flames,..it used to make me so sad…..I always wanted to know what happened to her!…….but Christmas IS that light in the dark,and these stories help us once again to believe in the magic as easily as we once did.

Now this is where I really do believe that I am a little odd..(.No!!….I kid you not…I’m so serious….. really !!) …….as for me, that magic does exist,always has, always will,….and never really went away…..and do you know what, I think it  will always be there.

Just let me say,before I plough on any further, that Sagittarians never really do “grow up “,not really, in fact J.M Barrie a Sagittarian himself,who wrote Peter Pan epitomises a Sagittarian in that story, as was Walt Disney, childhood cartoons and fairy tales, and Stephen Spielberg,all who have the same magical beliefs illustrated so well in their work.

Anyway, back to me!

I remember  as a child that magical feeling on Christmas Eve, Grandparents had arrived,and there was a special atmosphere in the house .Before bedtime we would always shout up the chimney first to Santa Claus….I can still feel the extreme heat of the flames behind the copper fire guard…., then leave a letter for Santa Claus  in my best writing on the hall table, under the lamp,plus a glass of whiskey, and always a mince pie…the excitement and anticipation was just intangible….Santa Claus would be standing just where I was, in a few hours!

I was always so so determined to stay awake and see Santa Claus,…. but never did,yet he always arrived!…..then left without a sound.

On Christmas morning there were always a pile of presents left on the Landing,stockings were on the end of the bed. I remember one year in particular, I had an envelope on the pile of presents addressed to me in big black letters,inside was a letter from Santa Claus, not the one left downstairs in the hall, but my very own letter, I didn’t have to share with my sister.

In it( and as I write this I can feel that feeling all over again) he said that he wasn’t able to leave me what I wanted,and he was really sorry, but he had something that he didn’t know where to leave  ! so he left it up the road,and a Lady would deliver it later at 8am!!

I had no idea what this was going to be,or who this lady was….then, in what seemed like a year…..the doorbell rang….it was snowing,and there stood the familiar figure of a friend of my mothers, she was carrying a blanket,and she said that “Santa Claus had left this for Millie”….inside the blanket was a tiny bundle of black fur, it was a puppy….. my puppy!!!….he was the most adorable thing I had ever seen,I think I was 8yrs old,I knew if I ever had a dog he was going to be called Bambi…and here he was.!!!!

It was a magical Christmas………Bambi was 3 months old….but not so popular when he disappeared on Boxing Day while we were all having Lunch….he’d found a great game which involved my mothers feather hat and the bed!!!!….. upstairs! oh dear!!!!….when I tell you there were more feathers than on Bernard Matthews Turkey Farm.!!!!….You wouldn’t believe how many feathers were in 1 hat !! unfortunately it was for a wedding…..needless to say aforementioned Bambi wasn’t popular for the remaining part of Boxing Day !!!!and indeed the forthcoming few days !!

Years passed,but I can honestly say that in the last 20 years there is not 1 year that I haven’t written a letter involving Santa Claus!!!….but this time, the letter is From Santa Claus.

This began I think,……one Christmas when I was staying with  great friends of mine, and their boys who were then 6 and 4 yrs old,my godson. It was Christmas Eve, we’d had an amazing dinner, and it was soon time for the boys to go to bed,but before they did I said we had to write to Santa Claus….. they had never done this, not at home, and, as they lived out in the country ,I said we ought to leave a light on outside so Santa could see where to land his sleigh ,as it was so dark.

We went to the Inglenook fireplace and shouted up the chimney, hard and loud, I was back to being that excited child with them…and then we sat down and wrote the Letter to Santa,listing all their wants,it took ages to write as a 6 year old doesn’t do shorthand !!! eventually we propped the Whiskey and mince pie by the fire together with the sealed letter……Parents,Angela and Martin were nowhere around, they were doing ” grown up things ” in the kitchen preparing for the next day!!

I was in this wonderful land of make believe living every moment with 2 of the loveliest sweetest boys,  believing every single word….. the sad, (and rather frightening) part  is…..so was I !!!!!!!They climbed into their beds, and just like so many years before, little one was determined to stay awake and see Santa Claus.

I came downstairs…. course then my work was cut out !!! I had to reply to this letter !! which I subsequently did, then there was the whiskey and mince pie…. that was soon got rid of !!!, then I went out into the Drive and gathered stones which I put on the stairs and a few around their beds, plus a few footprints of mud on the carpet…..I just cant imagine why Angela wasn’t thrilled at the stones and the mud the next morning !!!!

About 11 pm…I had done all my tasks and was completely “in the Zone”It was so quiet and such a cold night the sky so full of bright stars, I even thought myself” Oh Santa will have a clear run !!! then……well!!…… I will never forget it…..Angela and Martin announced that they were going to the Barn to bring in the bikes and the presents !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!it was like pouring cold water on my reality !! like waking from a lovely dream……and suddenly Santa Claus wasn’t coming !!!…but then thought “Millie, don’t be so absolutely ridiculous……of course he cant  bring bikes down the chimney…..Santa will just be bringing the smaller presents !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every year the boys looked forward to the letter, I didn’t stay any more over Christmas but the Letter still played a  large part….until sadly, “my services” were no longer required, unlike Peter Pan, they grew up !!!though we often laugh about the letters and Angela has  kept every  single one of them !!!

Another year I was staying at my Fathers in Northumberland, I had just returned one snowy  Christmas Eve from visiting friends for Lunch which had become a tradition on Christmas Eve, it was about 5 pm, when over in the Garden opposite a little girl, (who had just moved in as her family were renting the house over Christmas whilst theirs awaited Completion)and she was throwing seeds and bread on the path with her Daddy…..you see I knew straight away that the food was for Rudolph,!!!( which in itself is rather worrying !!! )She was really cute ,and I watched them both go inside.

I got home myself and there was ” that magical feeling ” in the air again, and in the room, all  sparkly parcels around the tree, the smell of cooking wafting from the kitchen,and candles flickering on the table….all ready for Santa Claus.

I sat down and wrote a letter to the little girl, I knew nothing about her, not even her name, but it didn’t matter,…….I said  in my letter that I had managed to find her,and  although she was in a new house one of my elves had spotted her….and just waffled on.I knew what it felt like to have that letter, and the anticipation of the joy and magic it would bring to that child is the feeling that I just cant describe,and its why I do it….its just sheer joy and magic.

I took the letter over to the house , all the curtains were closed so I wasn’t seen,and it was put under a stone and I’d found some glitter which I sprinkled on the snow, it looked so lovely…..part of me wished it was me receiving it on Christmas morning !!!!!

Christmas morning came, and because all the lights were on, and it was a very wide road,I could see as their garden lights came on in the darkness, I saw this little tot finding the letter !! I also saw her father looking around, then,once inside she sat on his knee as I watched him read out my words!!!

To this very day,…… and that was 5 years ago,…..( the mother had a baby the day after Boxing Day so was away, then they moved very quickly after Christmas,so the next time I was up in Northumberland 2 months later, they had gone)…….. I often wonder, as that little girl grows up, she will never ever know the answer as to where that first letter from Santa Claus came from………..Christmas Magic!!!!….so let it remain that way.

About 5  years ago we rented a large Mansion Flat over Christmas one year, over looking the River,….there was a double basement where the owners lived, with their 2 beautiful children….4 and 6 Again I left the letter outside on the lawn that evening,late……. and later, on Christmas morning, when we were invited down for drinks, the 2 children were nearly past themselves at the fairy dress that ” Santa ” had left with the letter….I had to sit down and listen whilst they read out to me every word I had written!!… 2x A4 sides….Santa does write long letters !!!! but the excitement, the thrill of those 2 little girls,Bella and Kitty is just magical, and, as Helen, their mother,now a good friend, tells me,that letter IS their Christmas,they took it to school, to Brownies,all over…..that tradition continues, they are now 8 and 10,…..so long may it last…..

Yes, its so magical for them….all those little people whose lives are just beginning,…….but this isn’t about them really,not entirely…..its about me !!! ……      Its about feeling that magic,and excitement and having that belief that Christmas Is that most magical time of year,where we veer towards Hope and Optimism,…… not Cynicism and Bah Humbug…..As I say to children when they have asked me in the past about Santa Claus,”He has existed for generations, your parents knew him,your grandparents knew him… and your children will know him too ”

Sometimes in Life we don’t need proof that something is real or not,…..there may not be proof……..that’s part of having faith,….. faith in the unknown, but as long as we really believe,despite all the odds, then  in our minds, we can create that magic………and then, in our hearts……it becomes real.

 

“He spoke not a word and went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings;then turned with a jerk,                                                                                                                                                                         Laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,   and away they all flew, like the down from a thistle;                                                                                                                                           ,                              But I heard him exclaim,as he flew out of sight–   Merry Christmas to all…..and to all a Good Night ! “-

 

I wish you all a Joyous, Magical, Sparkling  Spiritual Christmas,

and a wonderful 2017

 

Much Love

 

Millie xx

 

 

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