Updated: Dec 7, 2020
An unexpected guest...
It’s 8pm on the 23rd December 2020 and I’ve wrapped myself in my favourite silk short pajamas and robe, thick cashmere socks and the scent of the log fire burning. The mantle is decked with frosted holly, winter berries and ivy, spice scented soy candles help illuminate the cosy cottage living room on the hill. The drink in my glass warms in my hands and releases its signature aromas. I smile, as I look out the window taking in the view where the first specks of snow begin to fall on the fields of the shire and the stone houses clustered along the edges. A strange light emanates briefly from the darkness high above, I think I have just witnessed the last journey of a falling star.
The temperature is dropping but it only makes the comfort of my home and the sheep skin rug in front of the fire more inviting. I take a sip of the liquor, place it on the table and begin to stretch out on the rug, I feel like a cat, independent, sometimes feral, certainly prone to indulgent behaviour. My hand slips into my silk lace shorts and my whole body begins to relax… when I hear a sharp buzz and a semi rhythmic beat begin. I perch upwards and lean my ear towards the wall. A strange wailing sound starts to come from next door, and it was then I realised they were attempting karaoke and ‘Fairytales of New York’ by the Pogues.
The neighbours were lovely in general, I giggled at their tipsy behaviour. Their children were definitely at a grandparents house and I hoped they would take full advantage of the adult only time, whilst also silently praying they would keep the celebrations quieter by midnight so I could indulge in my fantasies uninterrupted.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed something fall in front of the window, ending with a dull thud on the ground outside, I moved closer to seek the source of this disturbance. Was it some dirt? A broken roof tile? Old twigs, once harboured now shifting in the changing climate? I couldn’t quite tell if it had come from above or below, maybe it was just from the vibrations of the karaoke machine.
A shadow seemed to block the view momentarily and there was a shuffling noise and alike to glass bottles tinkling. How utterly odd. Maybe it was a fox taking a shortcut on its journey home, knocking the recycling bin or a bird of the night taking flight off the roof.
I took one last glance before deciding I should have a final top up of my glass before heading to bed, I had a long journey to drive tomorrow. As I turned towards the pantry, I had the unenviable feeling my movements were being watched. It spiked my alertness but I didn’t feel in danger. I waited for a moment in the doorway, I felt a rush of heat go through my body, I removed my robe slowly, casually throwing it on the chair before walking on to gather my thoughts and the last sip of the evening.
As I walked further into the house I heard the lightest of footsteps moving away. Strange, but perhaps it was the neighbour putting out the recycling and in their merriment decided to come have a sneak peak at what my evening looked like. Maybe they had thought about inviting me round and then thought best to leave it to another time.
The sound of laughter drifted up from across the lane and my alertness eased, everyone was finding their own way to enjoy the evening before Christmas Eve. I listened again more intently, the next door neighbours must have heard my silent prayer and there was now nothing but a low melody permeating the walls, I could barely hear it, they had been happy with a one hit wonder and hopefully now were embraced in each other’s arms. I breathed deeply and slowly, relaxing my shoulders, the air here was more brisk than the living room and I felt my nipples harden under the silk camisole and my skin prickled slightly, glowing almost silver in the moonlight.
With glass in hand and heart full of excitement for tomorrows journey I wandered back through the hallway towards the living room thinking of my favourite big chair as the fire light danced along the walls, beckoning me to hurry.
As I turned the corner into the room I could smell something new, like fresh pine, maple syrup and the pureness of snow. Had someone opened the window?
My chair was now in stark contrast to the décor, a man in red velvet and black leather filled the space I was due to absorb myself in. His cheery face beamed at me. My reflexes held my drink closer as my jaw fell open.
Had someone slipped me LSD?
"So I can tell by the shock on your face you've been living in denial all these years?"
Incredulous! The man asserts the question of his existence whilst I have to question if I need to call emergency services!
"Were you spying on me?" I retort.
‘’Now, now, it’s not like that… I read your advert and…’’
‘’Woah, wait just a minute… advert or no advert, you can’t just drop in like this!”
I thought sliding into DM’s was bad, now this seemingly jolly man, slimmer in real life than the caricatures depict, has slid into my living room!
‘’The thing is, it was my GPS sat nav, it’s on the blink, and Rudolph is currently self-isolating… I told him not to share the hot tub…anyway I’ve had to start earlier than usual and was on my way to Australia to keep good time but well, as you can see, I’m here. Stranded. I’ve sent a beacon up and expect the elves will be here soon enough.’’
I let out a sigh. The year 2020 just keeps on giving. I assess the situation. I’m torn between abject horror at the intrusion and also a need to be hospitable and offer carrots, mince pies and a sip of something.
‘’I’ll gladly take a sip of bourbon.’’ Saint Nicholas proclaimed.
‘’You can read my mind!?’’
He looked unperturbed.
‘’Perk of the job, it helps to find out who is really naughty or nice’’
‘Unbelievable.’ I mutter, as I stalk back to the pantry.
I return to warmness, hijacked momentarily by his jacket suspended in mid air in front of the fire, I see some steam rise from the white fur collar.
‘’Hope you don’t mind, I always prefer the scent of a real fire on my fur, it dries well too.’’
‘’Of course, be my guest.’’ I offer him the golden liquid with a raised eyebrow. He takes the glass slowly, maintaining his kind smile and inviting eye contact just that second longer.
His fluffy moustache bristles against the glass as the liquid begins to reduce. I can’t help but wonder how his voluptuous beard would feel against my naked skin.
I shake my head, briefly internally questioning how much I have had to drink.
He is taking off his big black boots.
‘’It wasn’t a falling star, it was my sleigh coming out of hyper-drive.’’
I nod quietly as I take in the small scene, this evidently well defined man, in the corner of my living room, warming his feet. I wondered what his laundry detergent was as the room began to fill with a new layer of an almost sweet fragrance, Christmas like, but not too heady.
‘’That would be fairy pine dew and Nordic icicle softener.’’
My eyes meet his, stunned in short again, I wonder can he really hear all my thoughts, I smile cheekily, biting my lip unwittingly.
‘’Oh don’t get me started, me and Mrs Claus have an open relationship, we wouldn’t dream of divorce, far too expensive and it would upset the elves terribly. I don’t think we could afford all the therapy they would need if we did. Besides we love each other dearly but after so many centuries it is very natural for us to seek pleasure outside the family home too.’’
‘’I see. Thank you for your candidness.’’
I wasn’t startled, he was being honest without bitterness, a lifetime of kindness and generosity had seemingly imbued him with this gift of frank but good willing conversation I guessed.
‘’So, I must beg the question, why here, why now and why me?’’
‘’I scanned the area, you are 1st on the naughty but nice list in this geo location, I had seen you were alone and seemed peaceful yet receptive so felt this was the best choice I could make. You have the bourbon I like too.’’
Busy people, simple pleasures. One of my favourite sides of human and seemingly magical nature, I thoroughly championed.
There was something about him. I wanted to get closer, perhaps someone would call it an aura, he was so attractive. It wasn’t just the fire, he was warming from the inside and his eyes twinkled.
Centuries of mirth were being belted up in that velvet suit each year.
I looked closer at his sturdy outline, the details, intricate gold patterns looking like a story written in the very fabric of his infamous suit, the one depicted by so many across the globe.
As I sat back in a chair opposite him, I allowed the scent of festive joy - now quarantined in my humble abode to envelope me.
Wow, this was what Christmas really smelt like.
‘’Will I remember this visit, after you’ve gone?’’
‘’Perhaps. That depends on you, but you will never be able to speak of it to anyone, the words may touch your lips but silence will follow if that is what you choose. Living a life of discretion, I didn’t think it would be much of an issue for you.’’
‘’Interesting. True.’’ I replied. ‘’I also very much doubt the credibility I would hold if I said I spent the evening with you.’’
He seemingly paused his thoughts and looked at his handsome wristwatch.
‘’The elves have suggested their expected time of arrival is five minutes past midnight so you will have me until then.’’
It could have been the drink, or perhaps the magic of the moment, but something like excitement washed over me.
‘’My my Santa, how will we spend that time!? ‘’ Was I flirting with this gentleman?! ‘’You mentioned you have read my advert, I can assure you this isn’t the typical way I vet potential dates and certainly not without notice.’’ I decided I wanted to make the ground work clear.
‘’I had hoped that me arriving every year on time and leaving you gifts would in someway go towards the vetting and deposit procedures.’’ He ventured in his predicament.
‘’That almost sounds like grooming but more to the point I stopped receiving gifts from you when I was told by Mathew in school that you didn’t exist.’’
‘’Ah, I understand and apologise for any uncouthness on my part, you will have to go with your gut instinct on this. Not all gifts I bestow are in foil wrapping and with labels. My gifts come in many forms, sometimes memories, lucky wins, small miracles, times spent laughing with loved ones, the hours you picked out your favourite stars and the secret pathways you took in the first frosts of the season. I don’t just work on December 24th, I am around for all the time love, peace and joy is embraced or is needed the most. Except on Valentines. I don’t mess with Cupid’s schedule. Me and Mrs Claus take that day off. ‘’
It was like he had shown me a mini movie of some of my best moments in winter, inside I felt a release, I remembered. I understood now why this man felt more familiar to me. Aside from dropping down my chimney unexpectedly and interrupting my evening he was a rather fascinating being, and as of this moment the only exception to my vetting rules.
He smiled at me earnestly in recognition and used his hand to gesture at the coffee table, where a golden envelope lay unsealed and bulging, a Christmas card was propped against a bottle of champagne which seemed to have magically appeared in the moment.
Now this gentleman was on my Christmas wavelength.
I walked over to the table, counted the package, a small gasp escaped my mouth as I realised a surprise Christmas bonus had been added, sadly not sleigh ride tickets to the north pole.
I turned my chin to look at him across my silk strap laden shoulder. He stayed seated, arms open, relaxed, happy, bare from the biceps down, his white muslin tunic tucked into his trousers and belt were waiting to be undone…
PART 2 coming soon!