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365 Degrees of Christmas
by Oonah V Joslin

Patricia pondered as she hung the final bauble on the tree. It took two hours to put this tree up, teasing all the branches out into a pert conifer shape, checking the lights, draping the tinsel just so...

‘You should get a new tree,’ her friend advised. ‘I did after Brian passed and it made things so much easier. It’s not just the work involved, it’s the memories, you know?’

She did know. That was why she really didn’t want to replace it with one of those tacky little glow-trees that change colour at the edges and look so determinedly cheerful or some gold-tone tree on which you could only hang symmetrically placed, designer ornaments, ruby droplets, gold and red balls and bronze teddy bears.

She stood back to admire her work. The only thing missing now was a fairy. It had got broken last year. So sad… Every decoration, every bauble on this tree held meaning and some were as old as she, perhaps older. That little bell for example; it lacked a hammer but…

Suddenly the bell rang a light but clear note quite stark in its clarity. “Every time a bell rings…” she thought. An angel appeared bright and sharp at the top of the tree.

‘My goodness,’ said Patricia (because it’s that kind of story - she meant holy shit but that’s not the sort of thing people say in a nice Christmas story) ‘where did you come from?’

‘You’re sad,’ said the angel.

‘Yes. My children live away and I’ll be all alone at Christmas,’ said Pat. She bit back a tear.

‘But that’s not why you’re sad,’ said the angel.

‘It isn’t?’

‘No. You’re sad because you live in the past. What you need to is to take your friend’s advice, get a new tree, get out a bit, go to her house for Christmas or invite a load of people here instead of whinging on about your own imagined troubles.’

‘Really!’ said Patricia indignantly.

‘Really. You’re alive. Wish I was… You should get a life woman before you snuff it and miss the opportunity. Christmas isn’t a bonus you know. Every day is.’

‘Fuck off, Angel,’ said Patricia.