A twelve inch plastic tree pressed firmly into an old chipped cooking pot blinked forlornly, highlighting the neatly wrapped presents that lay around it. Presents for his two sons and daughter, presents that each year increased the pile.
Sitting at his table, he stared at his meagre Christmas fair – the roast chicken with boiled and roasted potatoes, sprouts, peas and beans and Yorkshire pudding all covered in gravy and mint sauce.
A bottle of cider (non alcoholic, he hadn’t touched alcohol for years) fizzed and popped as he poured it into his glass. Bowing his head, hands clasped he muttered a prayer of thanks and hope but deep down he knew his hopes would once again be dashed – slowly he began to eat.
His meal finished, he popped the single cracker, its bang echoing throughout his two room flat. The hat and toy landed on the floor where they would stay untouched until the time came to clear the table ‘tomorrow’ he muttered. Making his way to the pile of presents he rubbed them gently, rubbing the dust from those that lay near the bottom of the pile – standing he walked out the door.
A light drizzle touched his face as his feet shuffled along the cracking pavement. Crossing the road he pushed the park gates open and walked across the grass to the bench under the old oak tree.
Sitting down he hitched his jacket up and forced his hands into his pockets for warmth. Giggling gleeful children rode new bikes and skateboards across his vision; slowly he pulled a fading and cracked photograph and cradled it as one does a new born baby.
Darkness began to slip into his Christmas day – house lights opposite the park now illuminating his life – one in particular but try as he might he just couldn’t see through the window, then as if snuffing out a candle the curtains were drawn and the light along with his hopes vanished.
The walk back to his flat seemed to take longer every year, but with each step came a twinge of hope – a hope that maybe next year he would see his children on Christmas day, the children he hadn”t seen on that day for three years – oh how he’d exchange all his visitation rights for just one Christmas morning.
Fanciful fiction? Maybe but then again maybe not.
How many fathers are there on this planet who work day in and day out, to pay child support but because of a lop-sided legal system miss out on watching their children tear frantically at Christmas wrapping paper, their eyes bulging at the sight of the many and varied presents that lay in front of them?
Granted there are some fathers that should only get supervised visits – damn some should be supervised by an armed security guard but they’re in the minority. What of the majority?
Where this came from is beyond me – maybe Christmas and the fact it’s become nothing more than another Hallmark day with a TV full of pathetic soft porn American comedies is sending me off on the sadness slide. As it happens, all my kids grew up with two parents – sheesh my youngest will be 21 in a few days so I can say I’m one of the lucky ones.
Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and I should be working so I best be off.
All the best for the season and I’ll catch y’all next year.