Tales of Christmas Past

The kind of person I was when I was twelve-years-old was someone who always had a plan, a higher aim in life. Were these aims wildly ambitious? To some, no. To me, always. Recently, I’ve found myself thinking about the Christmas of 2006 and the kind of child I was, who fearlessly followed her dreams.

On the Christmas when I was twelve-years-old, I was an awkward child with few friends outside of the dolls in my bedroom. I think I largely coped with this awkward, in-between age by hyper-fixating on ideas. Even then, perhaps especially then, I was a writer. I lived in my mind without realising that not everyone created such fantasy lands to kill time in life. School, eating dinner, getting ready for bed, it was all an elaborate stage for me to move through the motions as I told myself stories of wonder. Entirely without coincidence, I am sure, all of these stories told tales of a children with abilities beyond the bounds of the adults around them.

In one such fictional world that I had grown accustomed to during November and December of 2006, there was a magical tree. A tree with brilliant lights that emitted individual and unique abilities on each person who touched a branch. This led me to begging my mother if we could buy a small 3-foot Christmas tree for my room, that I could add colourful and kitschy lights to and sleep by oh-so-peacefully. Unfortunately, by the time we got into town, the only trees left were horrifyingly expensive. I cannot tell you just how much my heart sank at this, at my imaginative little dreamscape that would not come to pass.

I wonder if you read this and think of me to have been a very dramatic child. In many ways I was and have not changed. Now, I am kinder to myself because I have realised that I see the world – and my own inner world – very sharply. The saturation is turned right up. This is a part of who I am that I am still figuring out as an adult, fourteen years later. To me, my dreams and passions are real enough to warrant any level of upset and change. It took me until embarrassingly recently to realise that not everyone was willing to be so drastic.

Well, what was a twelve-year-old child with the dream of a small Christmas tree and no money to do? One would think, nothing. It took me until the next day to devise a plan. I put on my sleeveless jacket, which were apparently a key part of my fashion in 2006, and walked to my grandparent’s house. I don’t think I even said hi to them before taking off into the small thicket of very thin trees that my cousins and I called ‘the forest’. I tore branches that I could reach which meant that they were small and twig-like.

I ran home and after hours of work that only a child can give to a vision that is unrealistic, I had sellotaped the twigs together to a central, vaguely thicker branch. The result? An extremely emaciated and sad looking tree. Well, that wasn’t good enough for me. No, sir. It was time to add a pop of colour.

I painstakingly painted this ugly twig-tree white as it was the colour Mom had for the window sills earlier in year. I did not have a big brush, just one the size of a toothbrush, but still, I worked hard to make this ugly tree of dreams slightly less ugly. As it turns out, paint didn’t enjoy the sellotape and congealed slightly. So now, the twig-tree was lumpy, white and peeling.

Well, I was thrilled. Yet, it was not yet complete! I wanted a skirt for the tree – but alas, how could one find a skirt for such a tiny tree? Why not simply use a tea towel? After all, I was working on a budget. At the time, I didn’t realise why my Mom made me pose for some pictures on our old digital camera next to my DIY Christmas project.

When I was 12, I was the kind of child who held elaborate parties for my favourite doll’s birthday.

For years, when my Mom has brought up this story, I have been embarrassed and somewhat cringed at my own childish eagerness to live out my dreams of a magical tree. This year, I decorated my room with a much healthier looking tree, that I did not have to make. It’s next to my writing desk, where I now work round the clock to make my imaginary worlds a reality, typing into the early hours of the morning.

As an adult, my dreams are no less colourful, no less real. Now, they follow my steps through daily life just as much as they did when I was a child. Somewhere in-between the age of twelve and twenty-six, I felt some dips in life where I hid my dreams and at times, even forgot about them. I told myself I didn’t need dreams once I was holding my life together so tightly that I grew brittle, angry and depressed. I went through my teenage years holding my fists tightly to my sides and pretending that these worlds, these multi-faceted kingdoms of dreams resided solely within me and that this would be enough. Now, I live from my imagination and make decisions based on what I can envision.

If you are still living in a phase of life where you have curled inward on yourself, denying what your know to be true, understand that a time will come when you will have to choose between no Christmas tree at all or a daft looking twiggy thing with a tea towel around the bottom. This may not be a clear analogy but here is what I mean – pick the thought that comes with the most glitter, the choice that sparks the most joy and the route through life that feels like going down the biggest slide in the playground, rather than holding onto the monkey bars for dear life.

Embrace the dreams who hold dear, live them fearlessly and more than anything, do not bend to the whims of an unkind world. Live in the daylight and the rest, well the rest is the world’s problem. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, friends.

Write soon,

Jens x

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