Microfiction #writephoto: Christmas spirit

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.


A presence hung around the houses full of Christmas glitter. There were so many, but the presence cloaked them all. It was a waiting, wondering presence, and no one noticed it because the times had turned since such things resonated in the human consciousness. The houses shone with electricity and tinsel, bright glass baubles and not so bright plastic ones. The air hummed with invisible waves, the twittering of shows, brittle, pointy voices, the throb and thrum of rhythms, the jerky zapping of channels and the whine of disappointment and tired fractiousness.

The presence touched the branches of fir trees, dead and drying in the overheated rooms, and felt nothing. They had been dressed and displayed for so long their life had ebbed away days before. It touched the cellophane thin leaves of the plastic trees and flinched from the toxins and the weary hands that produced them. Glass decorations pinged and glinted. The houses suffocated in the smells and noises of festivity.

In the streets, the first trees were lying, discarded and unwanted. In the houses, after the celebration, the plastic trees were folded up and put away in attics and garages. The presence delved into the distant past and found memories of fresh pine branches decorating wooden beams, of laughter and the banishment of want and cold just for one day, when the longest night was over and the new year was dawning.

Cycles ran round and round, but the presence had no understanding of the brash excesses of the new cycle, and the new world had no understanding of the presence. Except perhaps, in a few places, where the memories echoed, and the presence lingered in gardens where a pine tree stood, decked with food, and where chains of bright birds darted through the pungent green branches like living garlands of joy. The presence breathed gently on the wintry trees and settled back in the warm depths of the earth to watch through the eyes of foxes and badgers, hoping for the old cycle to come around again.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

38 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: Christmas spirit”

  1. I love the tree too, though mine has been fake for many years as I cannot bear to cut down a tree just to be pretty for a few days. It is still a symbol of something older and warmer, as all the rappings of Christmas should be.

      1. So did I. They played me their music anyway. Then were horrified in later years that I knew the words to so many ‘Mum-unfriendly’ songs ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. They’re grown like any other crop, I suppose. Like cutting cabbages. They’re probably pulped afterwards or burnt in the chimney. It is sad in a way, but they bring a bit of wildness into the house that you don’t get with an artificial tree.

      1. I’d rather have a whole tree that was grown specifically to be cut down for Christmas than chop a few branches off a random tree in the forest. a) I don’t have access to a forest b) if everybody did that there’d be carnage. I know what you mean though, and when we do finally move out of town, we’ll just decorate one of the trees outside ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. The outdoor trees are always the best. My favourite ever was the laburnum outside my grandfather’s window or which we made ribbon-tied suet ball, peanut garlands and all sorts of tny glass jars filled with seeds. It was always alive with birds. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Is it my imagination or is laburnum a tree we don’t see much any more? We had a lovely one, and I remember people (idiotic next door neighbours) muttering that it should be chopped down because it was poisonous. A bit like their children. I wonder if that particularly enlightened view has taken its toll.

      1. You would make your own memories (and you can also make one of your own). We have one the girls made when they were little. You could light it in memory of the people in that photo–and all those who did not make it.

  2. I think the presence gives us children and writers like you to remind us about what is truly important. Wishing you and yours a Christmas filled with peace and joy.

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