It’s December. The trees are up, your wallets are emptying and the turkeys are wondering why they’re getting so much food all of a sudden. Christmas is almost upon us. To get you in the mood, here is a festive flash. Merry Christmas to one and all!
You have forgotten him.
You have extinguished your hearth and bricked up your chimney. Now your fragile bones cleave to the radiator for warmth as the freezing wind drives snow against the windowpanes.
You have neglected the ancient offerings, those your forebears furnished when his restless shadow flitted over their rooftops. Now these appeasements nestle in your own bloated stomach.
You have cast him aside in favour of the new Gods of commerce, who care naught for the health of your soul when your purse is fat. Now your gifts arrive cloaked in stiff cardboard, for good and bad alike.
Once, rosy-cheeked youth lay abed in anticipatory fever, straining to hear tinkling bells and clopping hooves. Once, their happiness unfurled into tendrils of energy that nourished him, their benefactor. Now he is hungry. And if your children will not feed him with their love, their adulation, their joy, what will he eat?
In the thick of night, he will slip under your door, as thin as a shadow thanks to your neglect. Beneath your tree—beneath every tree across the land—he will place an oaken box, lid held fast with mouldy twine. Something will stir inside, the scuttle of a creature that lives in the dark crevices where you dare not look.
In the morning, while you rub the milky film of sleep from your eyes, your firstborn will open the box. Then you will remember him. Then, at last, he will eat his fill.