It appears to be raining paper, standing at the edge of the London Christmas market, I look up and I am transfixed by the pure white flakes that appear as if from a picture book, settling on the urban pavement and juxtaposing the harsh London setting with their wintery hue. They dance through the air; spinning and leaping and twirling like ballet dancers performing a well-rehearsed routine. They settle in every corner of our humble monochromatic street, creating a blanket of beauty that cocoons the city in its chilly embrace.
I watch from the shadows as couples old and young drink the delicious delicacy that is the Christmassy hot chocolate from the busy market stall. They embrace the winter spirit and laugh with their loved ones at their moustaches of joy that are highlighted by the glowing colours of the Christmas Tree. It is an amalgamation of every colour imaginable that I see wrapped around the tree that stands proudly in the centre of the market. Ravishing reds and poignant purples dress the tree in a coat of holiday joy and the care with which each bauble was placed is evident by the delicate balance of branches precariously hovering over the seemingly hundreds of perfectly wrapped parcels piled under the tree. They are in every possible colour, shape and size imaginable. They range from tiny tins to ginormous boxes that hold whichever new piece of gaming kit is trendy that year, or a giant Barbie dream house that will take several hours and several hundred curse words to construct. I grin because I know that on Christmas Eve these loving parents will queue for hours to watch their children crack huge smiles at the sight of a man dressed in scarlet and snow.
I sit quietly on a bench as the smell of delicious local delicacies wafts through the air, dancing on the senses and providing a pleasant atmosphere for the holiday utopia. The cold, frosty air breathes life into the market, caressing everything in sight, cavorting with the colours and frolicking with the fragrances, creating a symphony for the senses. Children romp in amongst the lights and the stalls, jaws dropping at the sight of sweet treats in every flavour imaginable in their mind. Parents wander to and fro, pausing under the mistletoe and laughing in delight at the merry madness occurring around them. Watching the scene unfold before my eyes I know that this December for these people is a time for warmth and love and hope.
But I also know that on Christmas Day, in the shadows that surround the market, there are children who will not queue for hours, their parents will not wait patiently with them but will stay home, caring for hungry mouths they are unable to feed. I watch them quietly, 3 young children of maybe eight or nine, their skin is pale and their hair knotted and dirty, but their eyes are bright and their cheeks flushed with excitement and merriment. They chase each other up and down the quiet street, their eyes glinting as they are caught by the edge of the Christmas lights and they grin perfect, merry grins at one another. Their hands are not ensconced in the fur of the children that skate on the glass of the ice rink. Their parents are not warmed by the cups of heat and opulence that the couples in the market drink. But they are joyous and merry.
I watch these children with a smile on my face as they dance around under the cotton flakes of winter in tattered coats and grubby faces and know that their Christmas will not be like my Christmas. They will not enjoy the gifts I will enjoy, nor the meal I will devour or the tree I will embrace. But they will share the laughter and the joy that I will, they will sing the same songs with the same joyous voices. And they will be happy, as I am happy.
December is a time of joy for everyone. These children will not have the same Christmas as I will and it seems as if their Christmas will juxtapose mine in every possible way, highlighting our places in the hierarchy.
But I watch with bated breath as a little girl of around 5 years old, whose hands are ensconced in fur and who will almost certainly be queueing up for Santa Claus on the 24th of December, runs up to the youngsters and whisper something in the youngest boy's ear. He glances at his friends who eye the girl with wariness before breaking into a grin, yelling "You're it" and dancing off into the darkness.
Yes, their December's are a dichotomy, a dissonance that one would not suggest fits together. But dissonance can create a symphony and what is the world without a little craziness? December is a word that to me tells of joy and laughter. It is not a world that connotes finality but a world that infers a world uniting to the embrace a new year and a new start. As I have been humbled by the kindness of the children I watch in the Christmas Market, I know that my December will be one of love.
So, 6 days before it's due in my brain decided I wanted to completely re-write my draft for the December competition! I would be very grateful for any reviews or comments you could give me. :)