Paul S. Gifford
A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS
Dear reader, please picture a blistering, cold winter day in England in say, oh how about, 1976? Now imagine further if you would be so kind a town, we can call it Erdington, on the outskirts of a much bigger city, you may of heard of, called Birmingham… a wonderful historical city that is directly in the heart of England. It is a day where snow had gently decorated the normal grey city, giving it a truly picturesque almost magical appearance… It is the day after Christmas, or how it is known in many parts of the world, Boxing Day – a day where you might imagine, fairytales can, and indeed do, come true.
Imagine right there in Erdington, dear reader, just off the main street filled with a vast variety shops, banks and cafes, all closed on this particular day, such a place as a three storied Victorian house. A house that once had seven bedrooms and was home to a rather prosperous and distinguished family no doubt, perhaps a family that even had a small fleet of servants taking care of it for them. A house that was surely once exceedingly grand and splendid. A house that had in the 1950’s been converted into three modest flats, one on each of its levels.
Do you see it? Good.
Now picture a young, pale boy with mousy brown badly styled hair, dressed in hand me down, out of date, clothing. An oversized pair of glasses, whose frame was kept together by scotch tape perch on the boy’s nose… he is an exceptionally quiet boy, insecure and incredibly shy.
The boy has just eaten a delicious traditional holiday meal of turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, peas, and mince pies with custard along with all of the wonderful side dishes and sauces that traditionally accompany a good old fashioned English Christmas feast. This delicious faire was lovingly prepared by his adoring mother
The day before, Christmas, the boy spent with his father, as his parents were regrettably divorced. After feasting a traditional cracker was pulled. Inside that cracker would have been a riddle, a small toy, and a silly brightly colored paper hat. He would have placed that hat on his head – which made him look even sillier… But he did not care as he was having a wonderful time.
It would have been about then, that his mother would have brought out of the bedroom, perhaps from a hiding place on top of her wardrobe, a large brightly colored wrapped box and grinning broadly presented it to the excited young man.
The boy’s eyes would have gazed over with delight at the site of such a large gift. After giving his mother a loving hug, can you imagine a smile, an oversized joyous grin on the young boy’s face, as he eagerly tore off the wrapping paper?
‘I wonder what it is?’ he must have surely thought. But deep down I suspect that he knew all the time what it was as – something that he had wanted for a very, very long time…
Moments later, the boy had tears in his young blue eyes as he realized it was indeed what he had always wanted… a typewriter.
Now, you must understand something. That boy since as long as he could remember had loved one thing more than anything else… reading. Yes, from the tender age of seven he was devouring books any chance he had. There was a small local library a short walk from his home, and he used to go there several times a week. By the time he was eight or nine, he was reading H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Roald Dahl, E. A. Poe, Charles Dickens and so, so, so many others. For you see, he had a rather sad life. His parents were divorced and his brother and sister had left home. This meant that he got to spend a lot of time by himself, home alone. But through the books he read he lived a very exciting life. He traveled in space, to the bottom of the ocean, back in time, and even into the future; all from the safety of his bedroom, all through the power of the written word.
As the boy looked at the blue electric typewriter, that his mother had just given him… Tears streamed down his face – and then, with the particularly silly Christmas hat still perched on his head, he began to type. His mother could never have realized what an important, meaningful present that was. As when he began to write, his imagination began to run and run and run and run…
Well, all that happened over thirty years ago. Years later that boy, as a young man, left Birmingham and England far, far, far behind him, a he and his father moved to California to begin a new life… And what a life it was for that young boy. His mother unfortunately died several years ago, back in England. His father is still doing well, even though he is now in his eighties.
And what happened to that boy, I hear you ask dear reader. Well surely by now you must have guessed. He continued to read, dream and write – in fact these days he even has had a few stories and a book or two published… That boy of course, well it was me.
PS: To see me, on the day mentioned above, in my silly Christmas hat aged eleven, check out my biography on my website at www.psgifford.com
©Copyright December 18, 2007 by Paul S. Gifford