'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Christmas Presents.

Winter is just around the corner. Last week it looked as if summer had come back again, but we’re facing into winter now. The wind is cold. I didn’t even try to cut the lawn this week. There were too many showers. I stood in the shed and looked through the dust on the windowpane at the trees blowing in the wind.

My cousin Rachel once went on a holiday to Norway with her boyfriend. Before she went she asked her niece and nephew, Daisy and Graham, if they’d like her to bring something back for them. Daisy said she didn’t mind what present she got, but when Rachel asked Graham, he said, “Some sweets or a hatchet.” She asked him why he wanted a hatchet, and Graham said, “Well I’d rather have the sweets.” So she got sweets for both Daisy and Graham. She phoned her sister while they were in Norway, and she spoke to Daisy on the phone for a few minutes too. She mentioned that they had seen ponies in the snow, and Daisy was very excited by this, so on the following day, Rachel took as many photos as she could of ponies in the snow. The next time she phoned home, she told Daisy about all the photos of the ponies, and Daisy was over the moon. There was a kids’ show on TV at the time about a ski jumper who always tripped over a piece of string or his own shoe laces. He’d spend each episode getting ready for the jump, then he’d trip and lose his confidence. He’d always back out of the jump just before it, but in the last episode he finally made the jump and he flew so far through the air that he landed in the front room of a woman’s house. They fell in love straightaway and got married, and at the very end they showed them on their wedding day, together in a carriage that was pulled by ponies through the snow. Daisy was very angry with this ending. She had watched the whole series and she thought the ending had ruined it because it was completely unbelievable. When her aunt came home from Norway she gave the sweets to Graham and he seemed disappointed. She got the impression that he was hoping for a hatchet, but she was sure that Daisy would love all the photos of ponies in the snow she took. Daisy was still angry about the ski jumper getting married, and the ponies in the snow only reminded her of that. She showed no interest whatsoever in the photos. Christmas was just a few weeks away, and Rachel normally got her niece and nephew surprise presents, but after they were both so disappointed with what she brought back from Norway, she decided to ask them what they wanted this time. Every year, Daisy and Graham’s father brought home a calendar from the company he worked for. On this year, the calendar had twelve photos of sparks. Graham could never figure out why they put sparks on their calendars. The company made flowerpots. Just before Christmas, their father brought home the calendar for the following year, and that one had twelve photos of rabbits. Graham tried to figure out the connection between sparks and rabbits, and how they were both connected to the company that makes flowerpots. He thought that if there’s a connection at all between rabbits and sparks, the rabbits obviously like the sparks because they look very happy in the photos. When Rachel asked him what he wanted for Christmas he said he’d love a rabbit. She doubted that he really wanted a rabbit, after he wanted to a hatchet before, so she asked him if he was sure and he said, “Oh yeah, I’d love a rabbit.” He loved playing with matches. Daisy said she’d like a Barbie car. There was an ad on TV with Barbie and Ken in the car, and it moved by itself. The kids were delighted to get these presents on Christmas Day. They went to the kitchen to play with them. Graham put the rabbit on the table and started lighting matches in front of it, but it didn’t react at all. It didn’t seem happy or sad. Graham looked at the rabbits in the calendar again, and he got the feeling that they didn’t really look happy either. Daisy was disappointed with her present too. She put the car on the floor and put Barbie into it, but it didn’t move at all. Daisy and Graham’s mother, my cousin June, got her husband skis for Christmas because they were going on a skiing holiday in January. The skis were leaning against the kitchen table. Graham had one more go at making the rabbit happy. He lit four matches in front of it. The flame frightened the rabbit, and it jumped backwards. It landed on the skis and slid down, and it landed in the Barbie car on the ground. It flew across the floor and came to a stop when it hit the cat’s basket. The cat jumped up just in time to see the rabbit roll into the basket next to it. The rabbit and the cat just stared at each other. “They’re in love!” Daisy said with a tear in her eye. Rachel came in and asked them if they liked their presents. “He’s fantastic!” Graham said. Daisy struggled to hold back the tears. She said, “This is the best present ever!” Rachel was delighted. She noticed the rabbit in the cat’s basket. They were still staring at each other. “Aw,” she said, “ye’ve put the rabbit and the cat together. That’s so cute. I must get the camera.” Daisy asked if she could see the pony photos again, so Rachel was happier than ever when she went to get her camera. Graham was wondering if it would work better the next time with grease on the skis and on the rabbit.

The moose’s head over the fireplace looked very pleased with himself. I lit the fire for the first time in months and he seemed to like the heat. I could almost imagine a glass of brandy in his hand, if he had a hand. Or a hoof. He’d need a hand instead of a hoof to hold a brandy, and he doesn’t even have a body. I poured a brandy for myself and looked out the window. It was raining again, and completely dark beneath the rain clouds.