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A Festive Tale: A Surprise at Christmas

Gabriel enjoys writing and reading and cooking. Every day brings something new to do and something fun to experience.

A Surprise at Christmas

A Surprise at Christmas

I have never cared too much for stories that begin with, “Once Upon a Time”, however some stories can begin no other way…

Once upon a time there lived a little girl, a little girl that had everything she could possibly want. Her delightful pink bedroom was crowded with toys: dolls, play houses, soft bunnies and bears, games, books, a top of the range toy kitchen, a circus train complete with circus animals; lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys and even a hippo. There was a ring master, clowns and a trapeze artist.

The little girl, we will call her Nancy because I would rather you don’t know her real name as perhaps you might know her: Nancy had a remote control car, bus, boat and a helicopter. A huge toy box brimmed with soft toys of all kinds and shelves the length of the room groaned under the weight of fairy tale books, adventure books, books about the earth, books about the moon and the stars, books about everything and anything. Her pink and white duvet and fluffy white pillows could hardly been seen for all the soft toys. It was a wonder Nancy could sleep in her bed. A giant green dinosaur sat in a corner of her room on a big white chair. Her dressing table was full of little perfume bottles, a jewellery box and a gold plated hair brush.

Strewn about the lush pink carpet lay even more toys, farm sheds with tiny tractors and farm animals behind bright yellow fences, a village with little people and cars and a big toy boot full of numerous children lay scattered on the floor. A figurine of an old woman stood by the door in the boot-house. Her face painted a deep colour red, her mouth turned down and a large frown across her brows.

Nancy’s wardrobe brimmed with dresses and blouses and fancy pants, stylish boots, patent shoes and pink ballerina pumps. She had a long coat, a short coat, a warm coat, a spring coat and a coat to wear in the rain. She had woolly hats, beany hats, hard hats and a French berry. Nancy’s wardrobe was impossible to close, it was crammed full. Nancy’s room had more toys than a toy shop, more books than a book store, more pink than a candy shop and more clothes than any boutique. Nancy had everything she could possibly want, but Nancy always wanted more.

Nancy was very good at getting what she wanted: she would bat her eyelids, and purse her rose-coloured lips, tilt her golden head to one side and plead, “Oh! but please mummy! I am such a good girl.”

Now it must be said that Nancy was not a bad girl, but it is a tad too far to say she was a good girl. Nancy never used bad words, always went to bed when told and ate her dinner all up, but Nancy never helped clean the dishes after dinner; she was too tired to tidy her room; she had too much homework to help in the garden. Nancy’s mother and father didn’t know what to do, but they simply could not buy any more toys or clothes for Nancy. It was time to say no!

“No Nancy! you can’t have another doll. You have more dolls than the big toy shop in town!” Nancy’s mother said firmly. “Your father and I have decided it’s time to say No! No more toys, now run along and play with the dolls you have.’’ Nancy pleaded and pleaded but her mother was not giving in. Nancy was furious. She rushed up to her room and piled her dolls into a big heap. She looked around for something to put them in. She went down to the kitchen and rummaged through the press. She found a roll of bin bags. Back in her room she filed two big black bin bags with the dolls. When her mother was busy getting lunch, Nancy took the bags one by one out to the rubbish bins on the street. With a bit of a struggle she managed to get the bags in the bins. Her face was red and her hair all askew. Nancy laughed out loud when she caught sight of herself in the hallway mirror.

“Nancy!’’ called her mother. “ What are you doing?’’ Nancy skipped into the kitchen with a big grin on her face. “Why playing with my dolls of course!’’ She chirped.

“Mm. Lunch is almost ready. Go and wash your hands and call your father, he’s busy in the garden.”

“Sure mummy, of course,” and off Nancy went, her mother watched her suspiciously.

The autumn weather was getting colder as the winter months approached. Nancy thought it would be a good time to get a new coat and perhaps a hat and maybe new boots. Pink fur lined boots.

“Daddy,’’ she asked walking into his office and sitting on the side of his chair. “I would really like a new coat and perhaps a hat and new boots too. Can we go shopping?” Nancy asked batting her eyelids and flicking her blonde hair. Her father didn’t even look up from his papers. “No! Nancy you have enough coats hats and boots to open your own boutique. Now run along and play.” Nancy pleaded, shouted and then cried… it was no good, the answer was still - no. Nancy ran to her room. She pulled out coats, hats and a pair of boots and put them in the black bin bags. With her parents busy as usual and out of sight as usual she carried the bags to the bins and threw them in. She was quite exhausted after hurling three bags of clothes into the bins. Walking back to the house she suddenly felt a fit of giggles coming on. She couldn’t stop herself from laughing, eventually she had to stop as her stomach ached and her head hurt.

And so it continued that every-time Nancy wanted something new: a book, a game, a dress, a cuddly toy, her parents said no and Nancy filled the bin bags with her clothes, toys and books and threw them in the bin. Nancy had so many things that it took awhile to notice her room was less cluttered and her shelves less full and her wardrobe door was able to close. One day her mother said “Nancy, I see you have cleaned your room. It looks so neat and tidy. And you’ve put your clothes away too. Thank you.” Nancy beamed with delight, whilst her parents never told her off they never praised her either, in-fact they didn’t talk to her that much at all. They were busy people. Nancy realised she liked being praised. That night after dinner Nancy cleared the plates and wiped the table. Her mother smiled at her and kissed her cheek. Nancy was thrilled.

The weeks passed and Nancy’s room, shelves, toy boxes and wardrobes got emptier and emptier until there was so much room that Nancy found toys, books and clothes she had forgotten she had. It was fun to play with old toys, read old books and wear last year’s coat. One day Nancy was wearing a dress from the very back of her wardrobe, it was a bit tight and a bit short but Nancy liked it. She looked in her mirror and did a twirl, she giggled and headed down stairs to find her father. She eventually found him in the garage tiding up. “Need some help?” She asked. Her father grinned and handed her a sweeping brush. A little while later Nancy’s mother appeared with two mugs of steaming hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. “Hot chocolate for the workers!” she declared. “It will warm you up. It’s chilly out here so don’t stay for too much longer,” she smiled warmly at her husband and child.

A few days later Nancy was getting ready for school when her mother arrived at her bedroom doorway.

“Nancy it seems we will have to go shopping for some new dresses, the ones you are wearing are too small.” Nancy looked down at her dress and the coat she was putting on. They were a bit snug but they still fitted. “Maybe for Christmas, mummy! Perhaps we can all go shopping together, the three of us! For now I think these will do!” Her mother raised her eyebrows and said. “Well ok! It’s only a couple of weeks away. We will make a date.” She beamed at her daughter and gave her a hug. “You are such a good girl Nancy.” Nancy smiled back, she felt all warm inside and it felt good.

The following week there was a choir service at the local children’s home. Nancy and her grandparents always went along with some friends. They brought treats for the children and small gifts. It was always fun and Nancy enjoyed playing with the younger kids. This year her parents were coming too. The evening arrived and they bundled into the car with a big cakebox full of shortbread biscuits, mince pies and chocolate cookies. Nancy’s mother carried a bottle of mulled wine for the adults. A short drive later they arrived at the home. Nancy saw her grandparents were already there and friends were pulling up in their cars. The hall were the children gathered to sing was covered in tinsel and holly. A big Christmas tree stood in one corner, homemade decorations hung from the tree and tiny fairy lights twinkled. It was a lovely tree, all the kids hard work so evidently displayed on every branch. Underneath the tree were a dozen or so tiny boxes. Nancy had never noticed before how few gifts were under the tree compared to all the children. There must be at least twenty children living here, she thought. She hoped each child would get something. Nancy always got lots of gifts.

The choir service was wonderfully festive and afterwards everyone enjoyed chatting, sipping mulled wine and nibbling on tasty treats. Nancy chased the little kids to squeals of delight. It was a lovely evening and she was rather tired when it was time to go home. Nancy fell asleep almost immediately after getting in the car. She was still asleep when the car pulled into the drive way. Her father picked her up gently from the back seat and carried her to her bedroom. He lay her down on her bed, taking off her shoes he pulled the fluffy duvet over her little body and kissed her lightly on the forehead. Nancy slept soundly and didn’t wake till 10am the next morning.

Nancy bounded down the stairs full of energy. She was looking forward to spending the whole day with her parents. “Good morning,” she called skipping into the kitchen. Her mother was sipping coffee and reading the paper. “Oh, good you’re up. Your father’s just finishing washing the car and then we’ll go to town.”

“I’ll go help,” Nancy called as she ran out the back door. Her mother watched her go and smiled fondly.

Later that morning Nancy strolled through the streets holding her parents hands. She gazed through all the windows with all the lovely clothes, fancy shoes and lots and lots of toys. “Shall we go in here? See if there are some fancy dolls for you!” quipped her father stopping outside a big toy store. Nancy looked through the window and then she remembered how much fun she was having playing with her old dolls and all the children in the boot-house and her big green dinosaur. “Mm no I don’t think so. I have enough dolls.” Nancy smiled at her father, “But a cream cake would be a great treat.” He beamed back at his beautiful little girl. “Sounds perfect.” He laughed. The day out ended with a new coat for Nancy, her old one really was too small. A new dress for Christmas day and a pair of Christmas socks. Nancy was delighted with her new clothes but more than anything she had enjoyed spending time with her family.

Arriving home from their shopping spree, Nancy’s father got out of the car. “Nancy! Come with me! I want to show you something,” he said shutting the car door and heading towards the garden shed. Nancy jumped from the car and ran after her father, her mother followed close behind. Opening the shed, he swung back the door. Gardening equipment hung from the ceiling and numerous bits and bobs lined several shelves that ran the length and breadth of the garden shed. Nancy stepped gingerly around the numerous objects on the floor. “Look!” he pointed to the back of the shed. There stacked in a huge monstrous pile lay black bin bags. Nancy clapped her hand over her mouth. She had forgotten all about those bags, she had stopped throwing things out because she had stopped asking for new things and having found so many of her old things she realised she didn’t need or want anything new. She was happy with what she had.

“Oh! dear. I can explain daddy. Really I can.” Nancy burst into floods of tears. Her mother put her arms around her daughter and hugged her tightly. “Darling, we’re not cross. Really, we’re not. We are to blame. We gave you so many things and we’ve realised we didn’t give you what you really needed… us. It’s ok. We love you.” Nancy’s mother hugged her tighter. Nancy looked at all the bags. She looked up at her father. “It’s true,” he said “we’re sorry for not being there for you. From now on we will be. And all this, it doesn’t matter.” He waved his hand over the bags.

“I know what to do,” she said, wiping her tears away, a small smile spreading across her tear stained face.

“Goodness gracious, can you get the last one in?” Nancy’s mother asked. Her father was almost hanging from the open car boot. “It’s rather a lot isn’t it!’’ she added through tears of laughter.

“The back seat is almost full too. Come on daddy, stop hanging about let’s go!”

“Not funny Nancy,” he retorted with a big grin on his face. “We won’t be long. Make sure you have some mince pies for when we get back,” he blew a kiss to his wife and jumped in the car. Nancy sat in the back and her mother closed the car door. “Have fun you two. See you in a bit,” she grinned and blew a kiss back.

The Children’s home stood silent. “They must be outside in the garden. Hurry lets go,” said Nancy eager to get the bags of neatly wrapped gifts into the hall and under the tree. The front door was unlocked just as promised. Nancy and her father made several trips back and forth to the car. At last they were done, Nancy placed the last gift underneath the Christmas tree. As they hurriedly made their way back through the home to the front door the matron who looked after the children appeared.

“Thank you so much. I don’t know what the children will think tomorrow with such an a-ray of clothes, toys and books. I can't wait to see their faces.” she clapped her hands together with glee.“Merry Christmas.”

Nancy and her father smiled. “Merry Christmas to you too,” they chimed at once. Laughing heartily he put his arm around his daughter - Yes! it certainly was a very Merry Christmas indeed. “Let’s go home to your mother and eat some mince pies.” And that’s exactly what they did.

© 2021 Gabriel Wilson

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