Advent Day Fifteen
December 15 2015
Susan A. Eames
Chloe hated Christmas. She hated the hype. She hated the premature TV commercials. She hated the shops with their unimaginative, repetitive decorations. She hated the annual regurgitation of Christmas music playing on a monotonous loop. Most of all, she hated Father Christmas.
As a child, she had been traumatised by the large man dressed in red with his big white beard. She had been taken to see Santa in his grotto and forced to sit in his capacious lap. When two hairy hands enfolded her and stroked her hair like a creepy murderer soothing his victim, she froze. But when she smelt his sour breath as he chanted 'Ho ho ho,' she screamed in panic until her mother rescued her from his clutches.
When she learned that this terrifying man was going to actually come down the chimney into her own home on Christmas Eve she refused to sleep alone. So Chloe's despairing parents told her the truth about the myth of Father Christmas at the tender age of four and a half.
Chloe never lost her fear of creepy Santa in his grotto and even into adulthood her loathing had developed into a full blown irrational, but very real, phobia.
Of course, it wasn't difficult to avoid these pseudo-Santas when she grew up. She solved the problem by holidaying every Christmas in countries that had no such traditions.
This year she chose Fiji, safe in the knowledge that a holiday on a South Pacific island was about as far removed from Santa with his sledge and snow-dusted reindeer as one could imagine. But Chloe had failed to do her research and didn't know that Christian missionaries had transformed the Cannibal Isles in the nineteenth century.
She walked along the dusty main street in a shocked daze. Upbeat versions of traditional Carols blared. Tatty fake Christmas trees and limp tinsel adorned the shops. She turned a corner and was confronted by the most extraordinary Santa in his grotto that she'd ever seen. Her instinct to flee was overshadowed by curiosity as she stared at the apparition. This was an interpretation of Santa in his grotto like no other.
The grotto was a bower fashioned from coconut palm fronds, decorated with red and pink hibiscus flowers and sweet scented frangipani. Like many Fijian men, Santa was absolutely gorgeous. Built like your archetypal rugby player, muscles bulged under his red t-shirt and shorts. No faux white beard or big belly for this Santa. He wore the traditional red hat, but with the addition of red hibiscus flowers tucked behind his ears.
Apart from his good looks, perhaps the most arresting difference was his cool dude sunglasses.
He seemed to be enjoying himself hugely – laughing and beckoning to the children who willingly went to him, shouldering each other in their eagerness to sit on his lap.
For the first time in her life, Chloe wanted to sit on Santa's lap too.
About the Author
Susan A. Eames left England over twenty five years ago to explore the world and dive its oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three continents. After several fascinating years living in Fiji she has relocated to West Cork in Ireland.
Susan blogs at: http://susan-a-eamestravelfictionandphotos.blogspot.ie
Published December 15 2015