Friday, December 24, 2010


A little story of mine is on DO SOME DAMAGE,

Things Remembered

by Patricia Abbott

In tattered pinafore and smock, the child finds it odd to sit upon a strange man’s lap. But obedient, she steps behind a woman with a bobbing infant strapped to her bosom.

The line’s long, and parents anxious to get on with last-minute shopping jostle her forward, never expressing regret for the bags banging her knees.

The girl has no list, can’t summon up a single toy or book to request.

But when it’s her turn, it's the boy behind, wheeled vehicle in hand, who's waved forward. She buttons her cloak, dons her bonnet, and waits patiently for another Christmas Eve.

This is part of a series Loren Eaton runs. Here's his description.

Shared Storytelling: Advent Ghosts 2010

Sixties-era songsmiths Eddie Pola and George Wyle may have memorialized any number of longstanding yuletide traditions in "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," but there's one commemoration their famous song mentions that seems to have slipped from popular consciousness -- "scary ghost stories." Though Charles Dickens and M.R. James both celebrated the season with spooky tales, such stories have been surmounted by twinkling tinsel, shiny lights and a certain ineffably optimistic red-nosed reindeer.

Check out other stories here.


Anonymous said...

Patti - What an achingly sad story! But you tell it very skillfully, and even in so few words, I was there. Well done.

C. Margery Kempe said...

A terrific tradition. I think everyone should be scary at Xmas just to even out the saccharine.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Go write us one, Kate.
Thanks, Margot.

Richard R. said...

I imagine she was as relieved as disappointed.

A Very, very Merry Christmas to you and yours this year and every year, and all the best for 2011. Your blog is a joy every day.

Richard R. said...

and to Kate - the world could use a lot more saccharine and a lot less killing, war and politics.

Phil W said...

Poor little girl. Thanks for the story.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for that one, Patti. Ghost stories used to be part of Christmas (e.g. A Christmas Carol). I don't know why. Here in the U.S., we outsorted that part of the holiday to Halloween.

There's also that original St. Nick, a gaunt, spooky shadow instead of the jolly fat man we know now.

Face it, there's a lot of sadness for most people at Christmas, and your vignette cuts to the heart of that. Thanks.

AidanF said...

I like the premise of the ghost being a child waiting for Santa; the sadness is multiplied by my suspicion that she waits every christmas in this way.

Loren Eaton said...

Patti, this was perfect. Could've been plucked right out of M.R. James' canon. Madam, my hat is off to you!

pattinase (abbott) said...

And to you, Rick.
Wasn't quite satisfied with it, Loren. I think it needed a bit more poetry in it to really succeed. Next year, I'll be ready.

dolorah said...

Aww; poor little girl. Disappointment can be scary to a child. This really tugged at my heart.


Todd Mason said...

Charming, and not quite clear as to whether she's ghostly or not, which is a plus in such a vignette, I'd say.

Rex Stout was in The Spirit, if not with spirits, too, in a story in my FFB for the week. I've posted FFB links. Happy happy, celebrants!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Todd on both accounts. I will pick them up for the other site. You guys are indefatigable.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Oh....the child's a ghost. Of course. How sad, to be forever waiting in line but never getting to the front. And I love that picture too.