Christmas Eve

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All the children but one were in bed. I looked at my oldest from across the living room, he was sat on a beanbag next to the Christmas tree, playing on a game console, headphones in and switched off from the rest of the world.

My wife give me a nudge with her elbow and and nodded towards him, her eyes telling me I had to convince our son to go to bed now. It was an hour or so before his normal time and I was finding being the father of a fourteen year old difficult.

‘It’s too early,’ I whispered back to my wife.

‘I know, but we have presents to wrap,’ she replied back.

‘So? Josh can help.’

She shook her head, ‘I want him to have one last magical Christmas.’

‘You said that last year…He’s a teenager now,’ I hissed back.

My wife pulled a face and turned her attention back to the TV. We had been watching some old Christmas movie but it wasn’t that interesting and followed the same old plot that other seasonal films did.

There would be no arguing with her. It really wasn’t the time. Christmas was stressful and more so when you had a big family and an even bigger extended one. We had six children; four girls and two boys, ageing between five and fourteen.

I had four older siblings who had many children of their own and my wife had three remaining siblings with families of their own, plus the children from her two brothers who had passed away. Then there were all the cousins, distant relatives and friends who were like family. Also, the people who only seemed to appear at Christmas then fade into memory for the rest of the year.

I got up, trying not to be grumpy. I was just as tired as she was and not in the mood for dealing with argumentative teenage boys. Perhaps, there was another way though?

Tapping, Josh lightly and motioning the removing of his headphones and I got his attention.

‘Why don’t you go and play that in bed now?’ I said.

‘It’s still early,’ he replied, a moaning tone in his voice.

‘I know, but we have present wrapping to do and you wouldn’t want to spoil any surprises.’

Josh fixed that look, the one that said he didn’t believe me and was getting on the edge to start arguing, ‘No, I won’t. I know what you’ve got me all ready. What I asked for; new headphones, Zombies Revenge Battle Two and The Haunted Earth games, Zomboz and Bomboz books, a download of the newest Death Rattle album, one of their band hoody and matching t-shirt.’

I took a deep breath, ‘and how do you really know we got you all of that?’

Josh shrugged and turned back to his game, ‘mum told me.’

Avoiding looking back at my wife, I spoke, ‘but we might have brought you something else too. Please, Josh, be good and think about your brothers and sisters. We know you don’t believe anymore but it’s important to keep things nice for them.’

I had noticed he had been keeping his distance all day. The other kids had been over-excited and unable to focus on much. Josh hadn’t spoke much and spent a lot of time playing his games. Even later, when we had gone out to lay the glitter and oats trail for the reindeer then put out the mince pie, whiskey and carrots, Josh hadn’t been with us.

Had my son really grown out of Christmas?

‘Come on, Josh. Bedtime or else you’ll have to help wrap presents,’ I pressed harder.

Josh sighed and gathered his things. He went upstairs and I followed after him.

‘I’m staying up to finish this level,’ Josh said, threateningly as he flopped down on his bed.

‘That’s fine. Thank you,’ I answered and went to shut the door.

‘Dad?’

‘Yes, son?’

‘Was Santa real?’ Josh asked.

I frowned and paused in the doorway. Where had that question come from?

‘Like, did he ever existed?’

I came back into the room, pushing the door closed behind me. Josh was sat up now, his game forgotten for the moment. I joined him on the bed and thought how to reply.

‘And don’t give me a fairy story, I know none of that is real,’ Josh added.

‘I guess there might have been an old man once who inspired the stories,’ I said carefully.

‘Like Robin Hood and King Arthur? There’s not much fact they existed, is there?’

‘Yeah, that’s right. It’s that kind of myth, legend thing. There must have been someone who inspired those stories,’ I replied, latching onto his way of thinking.

‘I guess that makes sense,’ Josh answered, ‘I wonder who he was? I bet the internet would know!’

‘The internet knows everything,’ I muttered, ‘but you know that some stories can’t be captured.’

‘What?’

‘Get into bed and let me tell you about an old man in Iceland who was the first Santa.’

‘Dad,’ Josh groaned, ‘I’m not a kid and I don’t need a bedtime story! And I have this level to finish.’

‘I know all that but just this once okay? I thought you wanted to hear about it.’

Pulling a face and muttering, Josh did as I asked and settled into bed.

‘Once there was an old man who lived alone but he loved children. He had longed wished for his own but, and though he’d had a few wives, he never had any of his own. He was black smith and also a carpenter because where he lived in a small town in Iceland it was far from anywhere else.’

‘He could have moved,’ Josh cut in.

‘Not the point,’ I replied and got on with the story, ‘the man made little money mending things, so he made things to sell but soon no one wanted anymore chairs or tables or shelves. The man decided he would have to make something else instead or he would have no money to get food or firewood.’

‘Sounds like he needs a new job,’ Josh muttered.

‘One day, watching the children play in the snow, an idea came to him; he would make them some toys. He spent a long time planning and trying to make things. At first he wasn’t sure what the children would like and because there was so few toys around, there was little for him to go off. The man asked the children and they told him they would like dolls and blocks, hoops and spinning tops, rocking horses and pull along dogs.’

‘Baby toys?’ Josh scoffed, ‘why?’

‘No, these where old fashioned toys. They didn’t have computers and TVs back then! Or even plastic. The toys were all made of wood and spare things that were left over from making other things. Children didn’t have a lot of time to play in the old days. They had to help their parents run farms and they had to go out to work as money was always short,’ I explained.

‘Like the Victorian children? We learned about them in history class.’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘So, he made these toys and then what? He went and give them out?’

‘Erm, no, because he wouldn’t have made any money then. The man tried to sell the toys but people weren’t interesting. They didn’t have spare money to buy toys, they had to buy meat, bread and firewood instead. The man was disheartened but then another idea came to him and he asked some of the children to come and work for him. He give them easy tasks and paid them with toys.’

Josh laughed and asked, ‘for real?’

‘Sure, why not?’ I questioned, ‘the idea did work and other children came looking for work because they too wanted toys and the man found them jobs, sometimes helping him to make the toys themselves. When he ran out of jobs, the man got the children to help other people and because the children were getting toys instead of money, there was more money to go around.’

‘But, he wasn’t making any money himself was he? So, the man was just as poor as before.’

I give a nod and carried on, spinning the story I was making up on the spot as if it was a well known tale, ‘but because there was more money to go around now, people could offered to buy toys for their children. They could have special presents on their birthdays and Christmas. Then, one of the adults came to the old man and asked him to start making gifts that the adults could give each other because they had seen how happy the children were and the grown ups wanted to celebrate too.’

Josh nodded sleepily but didn’t interrupted. He was curled in bed, looking like a child once again as he started to doze off.

I continued, ‘The man was happy to do this because it meant more work and more money. So, he made gifts the adults could give each other and soon that become a tradition too. On the winter solace that year, the town celebrated the shortest day and the man give away many toys to lots of people, thus another tradition was born.’

Getting up, I tucked Josh in, he was almost asleep so it was time to finish the story, ‘ word began spreading about an old man in Iceland who give children toys in winter and people liked that idea and decided to make it so. Stories were told and added to and changed over the years. Santa was created from all them, but who knows what is true or not now? Like all great myths and legends, we’ll never know for sure but doesn’t that make them more interesting?’

 

 

 

 

 

An Eagle for Christmas #CCC

Dear Santa,

This Christmas I would like an eagle. I know it’s not the normal pet to ask for, but eagles are cool and it would be great at scaring and protecting me from bullies.

I know a dog could also do this but some are too cute and easy tricked by food. I did think about asking for a lion or a hippo but they are too heavy to carry in your sled. Whilst an eagle can fly alongside you.

I will leave an extra cookie for you and a dead mouse for the eagle.

Thank you, Kate.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/12/04/crimsons-creative-challenge-56/ with thanks).

Postcard Story

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Dear little one,

I have delivered your letter to Santa personally. He was surprised but very jolly. He make sure you received what you wanted.

There has been a huge snow storm in the North Pole and we were invited to stay with an elf family as our tents got snowed in! The elves are always merry, nothing seems to upset their cheeriness. They are also extremely busy but have found the time to be the prefect hosts to us.

I have asked them to send you some of the delicious biscuits. I hope you receive them soon.

Stay well, do as your mother and older brother say.

Merry Christmas and all my love, Father.

Dear Diary

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Dear Diary,

The Christmas tree is up! I don’t care what people think. The best time of year is here and if I want to go all out celebrating then that’s my choice!

Anyway, it’s been proven that putting up Christmas decorations early makes you happier! For me, that’s so true. I love all that magic feeling from lights and sparkly things. It makes me so happy when I see trees and lights in and on other people’s houses! It’s like the knowledge that they are embracing the holiday too.

Tomorrow, I’m putting the lights up inside and out. It’s a huge task but I’ll find people to help me. I just hope it’s not raining because then the outside lights will have to wait. I’m so excited for when everything is finished as coming home will make it seem like I’m entering Santa’s house. (Well, what I imagine it could look like!)

After decorating, my second favourite thing is wrapping presents! I have almost got everyone something and in the next week or two I’ll get wrapping up. I love all the papers with their different prints on and the feel of the more fancier ones. I don’t think a Christmas tree is complete without presents underneath!

I just can’t wait!

The Wrong Summoning

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I had stolen the Occult book from the antique bookshop a few days ago and now everything was almost ready to summon Satan. I planned to do a bargain with him, my soul for fortune and fame.

I lit the last black candle at the fifth point of the upside down pentagram. I took the sliver jeweled dagger and slit the blade across the palm of my left hand. With a glance at the open page, I shut my eyes, muttered the Latin words and wrote out the word ‘Satan’ in my own blood across the bare wooden floor of my parent’s attic.

Finishing the ritual, I peered down and saw my blood shinning in the flickering candle light. I read the letters; S-a-n-t-a.

‘Ho-ho-ho!’ a booming voice shouted out.

I jumped, my hands landed across the still wet name on the floor, smearing the blood. Looking up, I saw a mountain of a man standing in the middle of the black chalk pentagram. He was dressed in a bright red suit, trimmed with white snowflake like fluff, he had black shiny boots laced tight and with brass studs down the sides. A top his head was massive red hat, trimmed white which flopped over at the end with the weight of a huge white pom-pom.

He had long, white snow glittery hair and beard decorated with sliver bells, small baubles in red, green, blue and gold, also holly leaves and red berries. He had a fat, jolly face with pink circle cheeks and some wrinkle lines about his bright blue eyes and large lips. There was also a sweet smell like; warm biscuits, cinnamon and hot chocolate.

‘Satan?’ I whispered.

‘Santa!’ he corrected me.

‘What?’ I mouthed.

‘Hee-Hee! Ho-ho-ho!’

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t want you, I wanted-‘ I trailed as I looked down at the bloody letters on the floor.

‘But you did summon me, young man,’ Santa’s booming voice came.

I pressed my lips together, not sure what to say.

‘Now, what is it you want? You have disturbed my slumber. Christmas day was two days ago, you know,’ he said in a jolly tone.

‘I’m sorry,’ I called out, finding my voice, ‘there’s been a mistake. I want Satan! NOT YOU!’

Santa stared at me with piercing blue eyes. The happy, jolliness faded from his face and he become angry and menacing. That look really didn’t suit him and I felt a shiver of fear.

‘James Michael Benedict,’ Santa spoke, ‘you have been on my Naughty List for as long as I can remember.’

I opened my mouth then closed it again, words failed.

‘Have you called on me to try and change your ways?’

I shook my head.

‘Right then.’

Santa put his hand in a deep side pocket and pulled out a yellow scroll and a white feather ink pen. He unrolled the scroll and handed it to me with the pen.

I took it, unable to refuse, my hands shaking. The script on the thick paper was in curly writing and the words the kind lawyers use on fancy business contracts. I couldn’t make much sense of what it was saying but that also might be because I couldn’t focus. My brain had seemed to have left me.

‘Sign at the bottom, James,’ Santa said.

‘What is this?’ I asked, trying to read it.

‘What do you think it is? The reason why you summoned me; a bargain.’

‘My soul for fortune and fame?’

Santa frowned, ‘not exactly. Those are not the deals I do.’

‘My soul for what then?’ I inquired, looking over the top of the scroll.

‘To get on to the Good List, James,’ Santa explained.

‘No!’ I cried.

I threw the scroll and pen away over the top of the candles and against some forgotten, dusty box in the attic.

‘That’s not what I want! I don’t care about the Good List! I want money and fame.’

Santa clicked his fingers and the scroll and feather pen were back in his hand. He pushed them on me again. I tried to stop myself from taking them but my hands were not my own.

‘Now, sign,’ Santa demanded.

I felt the cut on my palm re-opening, the blood lined the wound once more. I dipped the ink pen into the blood and wrote my name at the bottom of the scroll. I couldn’t seemed to stop, even though I wanted too.

The scroll and pen flew away from me. Santa held them once more. He looked down at them, seemed satisfied and put them back into his pocket. Then he held out his hand and took my own, the one with the cut palm.

A chilly, north wind howled around the attic, snowflakes drifted. The candles went out, the smoke curling into nothing within the darkness. Jingle bells sounded.

I felt a whoosh, freezing air blazed me and I was flying up the old chimney. We landed on the roof which was covered in frost. Snow was still falling and the wind blowing. Before us was a glossy red sled, decorated with bells, holly and tinsel. A team of  harnessed reindeer were pulling the sled.

‘Wait…’ I spoke out.

‘Get in,’ Santa said.

‘No…What did I just agree to?’

‘Your soul is mine now and since it is still December and just in the season, I am allowed to claim it now.’

‘But that’s not what I wanted!’ I shouted.

‘I’m tried of you now, James,’ Santa said.

He shook his head and dragged me into the sled. I tried to dig my feet into the roof but it was slippery. He picked me up with ease and put me into the back, throwing rough sacks over me.

I tried to struggle out, but the sacks, though empty, were heavy and I couldn’t move them.

‘Let me go!’ I screamed.

Santa climbed into the front, took the reins and slapped them down. The reindeer ran forward. I screamed as we took off. The reindeer and sled flew into the sky. My ears popped and my screaming echoed. I had accidentally sold my soul to Santa.

Toy Factory #CCC

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In the old days, Santa’s elves worked in pretty wooden sheds but now they worked in metal walled factories. The world’s population of children had become too much for the simpler times and with improvements in technology, the choice had been made to allow production to be faster, better and tripled.

Santa walking around the large conveyor belts and machinery on inspection missed the old days. Before the smell of candy canes, fires, newly sawed wood and paint hung in the air. Now it was all oil, smoke, warm plastic and metallic tang.

‘Are you happy elves?’ Santa asked them.

‘Yes, sir!’  cheery voices shouted, ‘we’re not stressed or tried anymore. There’s more time for creating, planning and double checking now.’

Santa nodded, he believed them but he also knew that in their hearts, just like his, they did missing the wooden workshops. Moving with the times had to be done though.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/crimsons-creative-challenge-5/ with thanks).

Project Santa #FridayFictioneers

Mr Rickton’s project was slowly coming together. He was currently working on a papier-mache globe that would show how Santa traveled around the world in forty-eight hours.

He smiled, knowing the children in his class would find this amazing. He pictured their little faces staring up in awe and the magic of Christmas sparking their imaginations. The children would go home, full of excitement and looking more forward to the special day.

Looking down at his glue and paper covered hands, Mr Rickton started humming Jingle Bells and continued with his task, he still had a long way to go.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/12/12/14-december-2018/ with thanks).

Could It Be? #FFfAW

It was a week and four days till Christmas, I had taken the kids shopping to buy presents for mummy and we were now driving home. The kids were dozing in the back, full of pizza, their excitement finally worn out. The sun had almost set and darkness had settled in.

‘Daddy, what’s that?’ Darla asked.

‘Where?’

‘In the sky. Is it Santa?’

I looked but couldn’t see anything, ‘it’s probably a plane.’

‘Doesn’t look it,’ Adam spoke up.

‘I don’t see it, but it’s too early for Santa.’

‘Maybe, he’s having a practice flight?’ Kim suggested.

I smiled, ‘perhaps he is!’

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/fffaw-challenge-195th/ with thanks).

The Santa Express #FridayFictioneers

The Dobson family stood on the platform wowing over the red steam engine billowing out clouds of smoke.

‘It’s the Harry Potter train!’ Cat cried.

Her parents laughed, ‘no, it’s Santa’s train!’

They boarded an empty compartment and sat on rough red plush, lumpy spring box seats.

The train whistled, pulled off jerkily then gained speed and soon was chugging through the Yorkshire Moors.

Sometime later, Santa appeared and handed out presents.

Cat received a soft toy pony and Harley a set of toy cars. They played whilst their parents sipped warm mulled wine and watched the countryside go by.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/12/05/7-december-2018/ with thanks).

Postcard #52

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Dear Santa,

This year I’ve tried to be good but sometimes it’s been too hard like when my brother pulls my hair or Mummy says my way of helping is the opposite. I know I should be trying harder in school but its been tough as I’ve had to be on the same table as Rebecca Bentwood and we really hate each other. I hope she’s on the naughty list this year!

I’m trying super hard to be good and helpful now that your elf has appeared to watch me. He has been sitting on my bookcase for the last few nights now and each morning he has left me a chocolate to count the days down with. I have started my list which I hope to send to you soon, this is just a postcard to remind you about me and wish you well.

Mummy said it would be a good idea as you get lots of letters every year asking for presents but not many children ask how you are. Daddy said it was a nice thing to do. I drew you a picture too of your reindeer getting ready to help you.

Hope you are well, all the best,

Sophia Locke