She won’t pretend this year.

The tree in the garage will remain in its box.  The obligatory gifts she must buy will be wrapped and kept in the closet, ready for giving at the appropriate time.  The cards will be written and mailed.  But these things will be chores, not moments of seasonal pleasure.

She won’t pretend this year.

There is no-one in her life making her toes curl or heart sing. The family is far away, as it has been for many years.  There is nothing she dreads more than the innocent query of friends regarding her plans for The Day.  This year she won’t invent the story.

She won’t pretend this year.

But this year is different from the others.  This year she holds a secret.  This year she is free from the haunting need for the one who left her, the one who showed her who she was.  This year she is looking forward with a belief that next year will be different.

She won’t pretend this year because she doesn’t have to.

This year her celebrations will be private and prurient.

But she still hopes Santa will climb down her chimney

delivering the only gift she really wants.