By Betty Devenney

The most wonderful time of the year has come around again, bringing the sights, sounds, and scents that never fail to capture me.

Last Christmas was a memorable one in so many ways. After the isolation and loneliness of the Covid pandemic lockdowns, it felt good to get out and meet people again. Hearing happy voices mingling in the air, and feeling the joy of the Christmas season, had everyone in good spirits.

The week before Christmas, I gathered sprigs of holly from a coppice nearby, and it was wonderful how the holly brought the scent of the woods into the house. When I was decorating the tree with baubles and festive ornaments, I was reminded of a Christmas from long ago.

I was seven years old back then, and that year I wished with all my heart for a scooter. It was all I asked for in my letter to Santa, and I even drew a picture so he would know what I wanted.

Two weeks before Christmas Daddy announced it was time to clean the soot from the chimney in preparation for Santa coming. He shoved sheets of old newspaper up the smokestack and set them alight. The roar of the flames was frightening. Red hot sparks showered out into the air, and everyone rushed outside to watch.
I remember it snowed that Christmas Eve, and oh the joy and delight watching it fall. It was so beautiful, and there wasn’t a sound. Even though I was only young then, I knew something wonderful was happening.

Tucked into my bed that night, I wondered if Santa had got my letter. And hoped that he wouldn’t forget to leave a surprise in the stocking at the end of the bed. On Christmas morning, I was delighted to find an orange in the stocking and red ribbons to wear in my hair.

When I ran to the living room to show Mammy and Daddy what Santa had left me, I got the greatest surprise of all. Leaning against the fireside chair was the scooter I had asked for. A beautiful wooden scooter, even the wheels were made of wood. It was perfect.

I could hardly wait to try it out. When I raced around on it, the sensation of the wheels rolling over the uneven pavement, made my hands feel like they were being tickled. I was having so much fun, I spent Christmas day whizzing around the square outside our house. I even dared to go as far as the end of the street.

Two years later, Santa brought my sister a more modern scooter. It was amazing. The wheels had rubber tyres which meant it rolled smoothly over all the rough terrain. There was a brake close to the back wheel, and if my sister was going too fast, she nudged it with her heel to stop or slow down.

My wooden scooter was still going strong, and I loved speeding around on it having fun. By now I had sparred often with every ridge and crack in the pavement. Zooming along, I felt every bump as the wooden wheels met concrete paving slabs. Sometimes I felt like I was almost flying.

That little scooter gave me so much joy in those childhood years. And even though I never managed to overtake my sister as she sped by, it was fun trying. There were times when we took turns on each other’s scooter. But not for long, as she was not having much fun trundling along on mine!

Then, one day, disaster struck! A wheel dropped off the scooter and it was put away in the shed until Daddy had time to fix it. By then, I knew I was getting a bit too big for it, and as time passed, I forgot all about it.

A few years later, out of the blue, I thought of my little scooter. How could I have forgotten it. I needed to know where it was, if it was still in the shed.

I phoned my brother, who lives at our old family home, asking if he had the time, would he have a look in the shed for the scooter. A few days later he called to tell me there was no sign of it.

On Christmas Eve, my brother came to visit me. He told me he had discovered a box of family photographs in the shed. And he had found something he was sure I would like.

He gave me the best Christmas gift ever. A photograph of me with my wooden scooter. It was perfect! ÷