Their first Christmas in Narnia was a decidedly sordid and quiet affair, as the four Pevensies, and the rest of Narnia, still had yet to decipher the difference between Winter and Christmas itself. The Pevensies felt that one could not be celebrated without the looming presence of the other, and therefore decided to celebrate neither to keep their minds at ease.
Father Christmas quickly put an end to such thinking when he arrived at Cair Paravel, empty as it was after all the Talking Beasts and foreign dignitaries made their way home. Despite the frowns of her older siblings, Lucy was truly glad to see him after such a morbid day, and had to restrain herself from shouting out to him and demanding to know if he had brought more presents as his sleigh pulled to a halt at the grand entrance to the palace.
He had, though, so she needn't have worried.
The other three followed quickly after her, though with decidedly less enthusiasm.
"Father Christmas!" Lucy shouted happily as the jolly old fellow climbed down from his sleigh, gently petting the reindeer that drove it in an attempt to calm them. "You're here!"
Father Christmas laughed, a beautifully loud, happy sound that had not been heard in Cair since the first snowfall. "of course I am here, Your Majesty. It is Christmas, after all, and my work requires me to deliver gifts to their intended receiver."
Lucy giggled, her whole face lighting into a young, happy smile, which soon dissolved into a frown as her older siblings came up behind her, faces twisted in surprise.
"Father Christmas," Susan said, in that soft voice of hers reserved for diplomats and guests from Calormene.
The old man turned away from Lucy, facing the other three siblings then, and gave them an exaggerated bow which caused Lucy and Edmund to chuckle.
"Your Majesties," he greeted, before his shrewd old eyes turned towards Edmund. "Your Majesty, it is good to finally meet you. Would that we had met the first time, as well."
Edmund swallowed hard, but before he had the chance to respond, Lucy interrupted, "You brought us presents then?"
The jolly old man laughed, and pulled the great brown sack bulging with gifts out of his sleigh, hoisting it over his shoulder and onto the snowy ground. Despite themselves, the four Pevensies crowded around the bag excitedly. A wave of homesickness hit them suddenly, and it was with this that they realized that yes, they did wish to celebrate Christmas, despite the evil that had been winter of the last year.
A warm feeling filled Edmund's stomach, and these presents, along with the sight of the old fellow that Edmund had spent the last year in the world of the wardrobe trying to convince Lucy was merely a fable, reminded him of home, of the last Christmas the Pevensies had spent there before coming to Narnia. Of Mother, reading to the children of the Christ child as they sat around the little tree Peter had brought home, their first Christmas without their father.
They had been sad then, too, but had overcame it, as he was certain they would do now.
Susan was reminded of crackling chestnuts, and she thought she could smell them roasting over the fireplace as their father refilled their mother's cup of eggnog and bade the children sing another carol together. Back when Edmund and Peter got along splendidly and Lucy was still too young to walk. The littlest Pevensie sat on the ground, happily clapping her hands as she listened to her siblings.
Peter smiled, the memory of leaving the city alongside his father, at the lovely age of nine, to go into the forest just outside Finchley, and find a Christmas tree filling his mind. The sharp smell of evergreen and his father's pipe filled the air, and he could hear the hoot of a snow owl he and his father had found just above his head.
Father Christmas chuckled at the children, and then reached his hand deep into the bag to pull out their presents. Each one was wrapped, unlike the last time he had given gifts to them, and all were about the same size, so that the young Pevensies had no idea what it was they were receiving.
Lucy, being the first to greet him, received her gift first, though Father Christmas insisted that they go inside so that all the siblings might open their gifts together.
They sat in the main parlor of Cair Paravel, Lucy practically bouncing with excitement as she ripped the wrapping paper off her own gift. Susan, ever the polite hostess, offered Father Christmas a glass of eggnog, which he readily accepted.
"These gifts are not gifts of war," Father Christmas stated calmly as he handed each to their prospective owners, "but for your own enjoyment, this time."
Lucy's gift was not so pragmatic as the cordial or a knife this time, though she could not say she was disappointed by the sight of it. The gift, when opened, was revealed to be a white, thick hardcover book, and, as Lucy flipped through it, she noted that it was an illustrated tale of all the greatest fairy stories of Narnia.
Lucy beamed. "Thank you," she said sincerely, nestling into Peter's side and letting out a loud yawn, and Father Christmas turned then to Queen Susan.
Susan received a golden chain, which, when wrapped around her wrist as a bracelet, immediately dissolved into a dozen small butterflies, none of them Talking Beasts, but quiet and beautiful. They clung to Lucy's skin, making an easy home there, and the girl laughed happily.
"These little creatures are rare indeed, from the far reaches of the East," Father Christmas explained. "They bring good fortune upon the one who owns the bracelet, and, when they are in the form of a bracelet, it is very beautiful to look at besides."
Susan smiled, and the little butterflies slowly wrapped around her wrist once more, turning into the shining golden chain they had been before.
Peter was next, and Edmund was beginning to wonder, with a sickening feeling, if he was to be skipped altogether, given that he had not received a gift from Father Christmas the first time.
Peter's gift was not so pretty as the girls', being a map. At first, he had to struggle not to show his disappointment at the gift, having many maps back in his study, but, after unrolling it, his eyes widened with delight.
The map was certainly not like any of his other maps, as, in each city or province, the paper was no longer paper, but real dirt or stone, standing tall and shimmering with light magic. If he reached out and touched one, the map immediately focused on this place, the rest of the cities and countries disappearing as this one grew larger and larger, eventually taking up the entirety of the space on the map and revealing crooks and cranies that Peter doubted could be easily found on their own.
Then Father Christmas turned to Edmund, and his normally shining happy eyes grew sad as he nodded for Edmund to open his gift, the last gift.
Edmund swallowed hard as a solemnness swept over the group, carefully unwrapping the gift from the jolly man and setting aside the wrapping paper.
At the sight of it, unshed tears pooled in his eyes, and he found that he could not look at the gift for long without them threatening to spill.
Lucy leaned forward to get a better look at whatever it was Edmund guarded so closely, and gasped in surprise, turning hurt eyes on Father Christmas. Susan, seated closest to Edmund, placed a gentle hand on his back in comfort, and Peter reared on the jolly old fellow in disgust, immediately forgetting his own gift in lieu of this cruel joke played on Edmund.
"What is this?" he demanded, face instantly turning red with protective anger for his younger sibling. "How could you be so cruel?"
Father Christmas did not answer, wide, doe-like eyes only for Edmund in this moment, and, after a moment during which Peter regretted that the normally jolly man did not gift him with a weapon of some sort.
Edmund ignored them all, staring down at the intricately carved box in silence for a mere moment before, with shaking hands, he pulled out one of the many identical items inside.
Powdered sugar leapt onto his clothes and fingers in an instant, and his hands shook as the gooey object lifted to his lips.
There was a moment, when the Turkish Delight touched his tongue, that Edmund sat frozen in horrified anticipation, waiting for the pain from his nightmares to come. He hadn't eaten Turkish Delight since that fateful day, hadn't thought of it without being nauseous since becoming a King.
But this Turkish Delight was different than the kind that the White Witch had given him; it even tasted different. Sweeter, but not nauseatingly so, and the strange haze that had overcame him the moment he tasted the stuff in the presence of the White Witch was not there, this time. Pure, in a way that Edmund could not even begin to explain, and suddenly he wanted more of it, but not in the same desperate way he had when the Witch offered it to him.
And it occurred to him then, as he took another bite, that the food couldn't hurt him, that the memory of the White Witch's enchanted food was nothing compared to this, that, just as in his memories of that lonely Christmas in England, Edmund Pevensie could make his own memories, didn't have to be oppressed by the tainted memories he had from his time with the Witch. Because he was not ruled by the White Witch, not anymore, and she couldn't hurt him, anymore.
And neither could this.
"Thank you," Edmund whispered, holding the box tightly to his chest while tears formed in his eyes, to the surprise of his siblings. And he meant it.