On Christmas Hill

Deep in the South of England, high above the city of Winchester stands Christmas Hill. Here a few forgotten trees pay witness to the story that passed there, long ago. Before the shopping and the plastic and the food that went to waste, Christmas was delivered. Across the water it came, glorious in its glass baubles, laden with Germanic sweet treats; it was dropped on the doorsteps of voracious Victorians.

This was how things were done, till time became a man and went off to war in 1914 and Christmas would be delivered no more. For the people of Winchester, Christmas was always kept close; decorations were stored and friendships were kept. But this year they were made to send it away, to be kept quarantined on a hill high above the city. There the displaced deliverers of Christmas planted their trees and hung their lights, decorating for a holiday held hostage.

There they stayed, for the years in between, while war raged around their chocolate box scene. Living in a long Christmas, stared at through trees, over fences, by people who came to watch with envious eyes. And each December, as before, they would put on a show of colour and light, and the crowds would come on Christmas Eve to sing. Calling out to Christmases lost, reaching into their memories to loved ones long gone.

Lanterns high they offered their hands over the fences to be held, gripping tight to the Christmases there would be again. They would believe in better things to come, till midnight came and for all their wishes there was no magic to bring their lost loves back. Melancholic, they would return to their homes in hopes that they had not forgotten the faces of the fallen. While a few; young and rebellious, would leap the fences, shake hands and drink merrily with the spirit of Christmas.

And so they lived, in their bubble. Living their lifetime of Christmases while the world turned grey around them. When it was all over, and the war was won, the clocks struck eleven and a hush fell over the world. The people of Winchester turned their minds to the hill, and those that still could, rushed to greet Christmas. They broke down the fences and cut down the trees and they carried Christmas and its kin down to the cathedral. Where it stayed, and where it will remain, evermore.

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