July 26, 2020

Boxing Day in July: A Christmas Wish, By Maxine Churchman

At New Year, Ben’s mum gave me an old cardboard box. It was lightweight and smelled dusty.

“These are a few Christmas decorations from when Ben was a boy. Perhaps you would like them. They were quite special to him once.”

I put the box away unopened and forgot about it, but as Christmas approached, I decided it might be a nice surprise for Ben; and Charlie might like to see the decorations his dad had as a boy. I opened the box, not knowing what to expect. Nestled in tissue paper, were several beautiful glass baubles and an exquisite fairy that was the ideal size for our tree.

When Ben arrived home that evening, he let out a whistle when he saw the tree. I think his eyes were a little moist but I pretended not to notice.

“That angel takes me back,” he said, looking at the fairy at the top of the tree. "She still looks fabulous, although a little discolored now.”

“She’s a fairy,” I said.

“Fairy, angel. Does it matter? When I was a boy, I used to make a wish on her on Christmas Eve.”

“Did any of your wishes come true?”

“Some.” There was a catch in his voice and he turned away.

On Christmas Eve, Charlie took carrots to bed to feed the reindeer. Ben and I snuggled on the sofa watching the logs crackle and glow in the grate. As midnight approached, I suggested we make a wish on the fairy.

“We’re a bit old for that now, don’t you think?” he said.

“Ah come on. Life’s too short and precious to be sensible all the time.” I was thinking of Charlie and I’m sure he knew it.

He kissed me and grinned like a schoolboy. “There are rules,” he told me earnestly.

“OK.” I stared at him intently to show I was paying attention.

“You must only tell the angel your wish. If you breathe a word of it to anyone else, the wish won’t come true.”

“Fair enough. No pun intended.”

He frowned, unimpressed. “You can only make one wish, and I know through experience, she doesn’t like wishes for material gain.”

I wondered what wishes he had been denied. “OK. Anything else?”

“No, but if your wish is granted. Be sure to thank her. Are you ready? We must make our wishes at midnight.”

We sat in silence watching the second hand tick count off the seconds. I already knew what I would wish for and a quick glance at Ben told me he had his wish ready too. As the clock struck the hour, we closed our eyes and made our wishes.

In the morning, pale sunlight was just peeking through a gap in our curtains when a noise from Charlie’s bedroom woke me. Ben stirred sleepily and I touched his shoulder. “I think Charlie is awake. Let’s fetch him to open his presents.” I couldn’t wait to see his face.

Charlie was sitting up in bed, eyes sparkling, grinning from ear to ear. “Mum Dad, I can feel my legs and look—I can wiggle my toes.”

A car accident three years ago, had robbed Charlie of all sensations in his legs; doctors warned us he may never walk again. I brushed tears from my face.

Ben swung Charlie into a bear hug. “That’s fantastic, Champ. What a great Christmas gift. Let’s celebrate by opening your presents.”

“I just have to see the fairy,” I said, heading for the stairs.

“Me too,” he replied with a grin.


Maxine Churchman is a mother and grandmother from Essex UK. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, yoga and, more recently, writing. So far she has concentrated on short stories, but hopes to make progress on a novel in 2020. She has had work published by CafeLit, Black Hare Press, Stormy Island Publishing and Clarendon House Publishing.


Kelly Jarvis said...

This story brought a tear to my eyes. Such a happy ending! I also have an angel/fairy at the top of my tree.

Katew said...

We keep an old silver atomic star from the 50s on ours. Angels are lovely, though.

Maxine said...

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. When I was a child we had a much loved fairy at the top of the tree. Now we have a star.

Ellie a.Goss said...

Oh how sweet, it certainly bridged a gap to my own childhood - as a Sunday Schooler, this is just the sort of story that would have been considered as a prize for top efforts at the end of year ceremonies.

AMOffenwanger said...

Oh, this is lovely! So heart-warming.

Shahnaz Radjy said...

A lovely tradition, and in this case a heartwarming outcome.

Sangita Kalarickal said...

This is such a moving story, especially as I read it now, with the season upon us. Beautiful.