Santa Claus walked down the road holding his young daughter’s hand. They both wore the same red Christmas robes with hoods that had a white fur trimming; and thick boots that kept their feet warm when, in just one day, they would soar overhead in their sled around the world in the cool skies. For now, they trudged down the road in the snow away from me, each one holding a lantern in their free hand that illuminated this special winter’s afternoon two days before Christmas.
I wondered where they were going: perhaps to check on the reindeer, which were bunkering up before the long journey by nibbling on the wintergreen lichen growing on the trees? Santa and his daughter are always so busy preparing at this time of year. Fancy them making their preparations right here in my neighborhood in Drottningholm, Sweden?
I walked home and felt the Christmas spirit coming on. Seeing all of the stuff in the stores hadn’t done it for me. In fact, I was beginning to find the whole concept of Christmas shopping one of alienation and terror. How could we, when we know what all of this superfluous stuff is doing to our planet? Future generations would consider us criminals. The peace of this deep winter’s afternoon, with the snow covering the palace rooftops despite valiant efforts to clear them this week, calmed me and I felt the urge to share the feeling. Perhaps I could light a couple of lanterns and put them out there in the snow in front of my house for passersby to enjoy. I hoped they’d understand that my lanterns were for them – particularly people I didn’t know – so that they might contribute in some small way to that one thing that makes Christmas indispensable: the rise of our common feeling of humanity.
An hour later there was a light knock on the door. It sounded like the small fist of a child. I opened the door and found it was Santa’s daughter with the lantern in her hand. She blinked twice and smiled gently without saying a word. Behind her, gathered in a small crowd of light, were many Santas, women and men, girls and boys. Someone had understood my lanterns, I thought. They launched into one of the most beautiful Swedish Christmas songs I know which starts with, “Light, light, wonderful light…” and two others followed. Santa’s daughter sang with all her might, hitting some curious and, as yet, undiscovered notes.
These days this sort of thing doesn’t tend to happen unless someone is out collecting for a good cause. I asked the question and then felt ashamed when the gathered crowd laughed and said, “Wish we’d thought of it.” It was then that I was reminded that one lantern attracts another, and that the purpose of their being there together is quite simply to make their common light grow, because that is as good as it gets. “Thank you,” I said to them in the most heartfelt manner I could muster. “Merry Christmas,! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!” they shouted, as they passed by my lanterns and walked out the gate back onto the street carrying their own light onwards.
Wishing all of my readers and friends a wonderful and heartfelt holiday season.
As always, for more about my books visit www.julielindahl.com.