Dear Diary #50

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Dear Diary,

It’s officially winter today, though it feels like it’s been here for awhile, expect for the snow which I hope keeps away for longer! The weather has settled into a pattern of being wild, wet, windy, cold and getting dark so early that all but the morning daytime feels lost.

Today, I’ve been busy getting the Christmas decorations out and some of them up. The kids, now claiming they are ‘too old’ for such things took awhile to get into the mood of things but those decorations that reminded them of silly times – a school play, craft pieces, a photo on Santa’s knee, helped to get them into it.

Of course, only two sets of lights worked! So I left Danny testing them in the shed and I took Emma out to buy some more and a few other things. The shops were busy as was to be expected but we got through okay. Christmas music was playing in all the shops and it felt like everyone had suddenly got this idea that now was the time to start celebrating officially. Though TV and shops have been creeping it in since the start of last month!

Back home and more decorations to put up and it turns out I was right to replace the lights as poor Danny couldn’t fix them. I cheered him up with hot chocolate and crumpets which were so lovely in front of our still new fireplace! A fire really does add that cosy, cheery feel to Christmas. I don’t know how we coped without it before!

I made a nice stew and dumplings for tea and we watched a Christmas movie, though the kids were still tutting and spent more time on their phones/games then watching it but at least we were all together and that’s good enough for me.

Then before we came to bed, I walked around and just smiled, Christmas is truly here and it feels so good and welcome, the perfect beacon of hope in the long winter nights.

Toy Train #3LineTales

three line tales, week 145: a steam train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Brian had time to kill before his job interview, so he went into the toy shop next door, thinking he’d get some ideas for his kids Christmas presents.

The shelves were packed with classic toys and games, the latest must haves and reproductions of vintage toys, some of which pre-dated him but nothing drew his interested.

A whistle come from above his head, Brian looked up and saw a miniature steam train, puffing real smoke, click clacking on a metal track, that’s it, he thought, I’m going to buy them that this year.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/11/08/three-line-tales-week-145/ with thanks).

Evil Fairy Princess #TaleWeaver

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Georgia pulled the car into a parking space as close to the supermarket as she could get. She turned off the engine and glanced at her children in the back seat. Two year old Ellis had fallen asleep and five year old Lottie was looking unhappily out of the window.

The weather was abysmal. Heavy rain and gale force winds were drenching and battering everything. Leaves and litter were being swept up into mini tornadoes and becoming stuck to everything as the rain glued them down. The sky above was dark and more like evening time then late morning.

Getting out, Georgia moved quickly. She helped Lottie out then picked up Ellis, hugging him to her side. Taking her daughter’s hand, they walked towards the large, brightly light shop. The weather seemed to victimise them; the wind howled around like a hungry wild animal and the rain pelted down.

They reached the sheltered entrance. Georgia, feeling like she had just waded through a monsoon, collected a shopping trolley and placed Ellis into the baby seat. She then reached to take Lottie’s hand again.

Marching onwards, they joined the queue to get in and pushed through the automatic sliding doors which had broken under the pressure of people moving passed. Warm air buffed them but it was hardly enough to take the chill off, let alone dry them.

Stepping inside, Georgia sighed deeply as she looked around, regretting her decision to come out. It seemed everyone else had gotten the same idea too.

The supermarket was chaotic. The noise of all the voices like a stormy sea; children were crying or shouting, teenagers were arguing and moaning whilst adults battled in-between in the shelves and the elderly were complaining loudly to anyone who would listen.

‘You want to go in the trolley?’ Georgia asked Lottie, gently.

‘I’m too big for that now,’ Lottie replied with a pout.

‘I know, but it’s busy and I wouldn’t want you to get lost,’ Georgia explained.

Lottie shook her head then pointed and said, ‘Halloween costumes, Mummy!’

Georgia looked over and saw a nearby rail unit weighed down with a range of different costumes. A few people were gathered around, selecting ones.

‘But you all ready have one from last year,’ Georgia replied, ‘a blue witch dress. Remember?’

‘I don’t want to be a witch!’ Lottie cried, ‘I want to be an evil princess fairy!’

Before Georgia could grip her, Lottie went over to the costumes and began looking through the girl ones. There were two rows of pretty, bright colored dresses and a row darker dresses.

Pushing the trolley over, Georgia joined her, debating if it was worth trying to tell Lottie she wasn’t having a new Halloween costume. Then, they both saw at the same time a wonderful sparkly bright pink and purple dress with layers of lace bunched together for the skirt with sliver and gold stars on it.

‘That’s not very Halloween like,’ Georgia said, wondering if someone had accidentally placed it there.

‘I want it!’ Lottie gushed.

Georgia checked the size and found it was big enough for Lottie, ‘I’ll get it you then.’

‘Now I need wings, Mummy! and something….but not a hat, to go in my hair,’ Lottie said.

‘What does an evil princess fairy look like anyway?’ Georgia asked as they found some white sparkly wings behind the unicorn onesies.

‘Like a normal fairy princess but with an angry face,’ Lottie replied.

Georgia laughed.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/tale-weaver-fairy-tale-193-fairies/ with thanks).

 

 

 

 

 

Stocking Up #TwitteringTales

September payday arrived, Kim had worked overtime to have enough money for her shopping spree. At the till, she watched the cashier cashing up everything.

‘That’s a lot of books!’ the cashier said, counting eighteen total.

‘It’s my winter stock pile,’ Kim replied, grinning.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/09/10/twittering-tales-101-11-september-2018/ with thanks).

Chain #TwittingTales

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She walked down the hardware shop’s aisle of chains and selected the thickest, heaviest one. She brought some other things too, just so it wouldn’t look suspicious. Back home, she fixed the chain to the metal clips then attached it to her Newfoundland’s collar.  No longer would he been escaping the garden.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/07/03/twittering-tales-91-chains-3-july-2018/ with thanks).

Fountains #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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Joy had been fussy all day which had, as far as Mercy was concerned lowered the whole tone of shopping in the city center for holiday clothes. Tried from dealing with the four year old, Mercy decided to finish early and try again when she was alone.

Buying drinks and snacks, Mercy pushed Joy in her pram which was full of things she had brought, across the road to the large patches of grass that made up the ‘gardens’, though really it was just two rectangles of grass divided by a large sunk circle area where there was seating and water fountains.

Mercy found a good spot and give Joy the orange juice. It was a brilliant day; hot and sunny, with a cooling breezy and not a cloud in the sky. Mercy could almost believe that she was no longer in rainy England but in an hotter country. It was busy though and just as the shops had been crowed so was the street. There were people everywhere! The noise was like a constant loud humming.

Joy was fussing again, tugging at the straps holding her in the pram and making straining noises. Her juice forgotten but still clutch in a small hand. She was too big for the pushchair now but her habit of running off meant things had to be this way. Joy was a cute toddler but all ready spoiled by grandparents who had always believed they’d never get a grandchild. Mercy blamed them for the problems Joy often give her.

‘What is it now?’ Mercy asked.

Joy waved her free hand and give a little screech, ‘water!’

Mercy looked and saw that there were children playing in the fountains. Water jets were shooting up at different heights and seemingly at random in what would have been a nice display, if not for the children running about between them. As Mercy watched, she noticed some of the kids were only half clothed; wearing just shorts or underwear, some even had swimming costumes on.

‘No,’ Mercy said firmly, ‘drink your orange juice.’

‘Mama, mama!’ Joy cried and strained more at the straps halting her freedom.

‘Now you stop that,’ Mercy snapped and moved the pram around.

Joy threw the juice bottle away and tried to stand up in the pram.

Ignoring the watching eyes from the people around them, Mercy picked up the bottle, found it half empty and placed it into the pram. Then she put her hands to her daughter’s shoulders and eased her back down.

‘Now, listen, Joy, I said no,’ Mercy spoke in a low voice.

Joy’s face crumpled and fat tears began flowing. An awful wailing sound came out of the small mouth and more heads began turning to look.

Mercy gritted her teeth, getting ready for the rant that was about to happen.

‘You won’t get any sweets.’ Mercy snapped.

Joy screamed loudly and kicked out her legs madly out. Her hands pounded the straps and Mercy had to grab on to pram to stop it from falling over.

‘Fine, fine! You can go and play!’ Mercy half-shouted.

She released her daughter with a few clicks and Joy tumbled out of the pram.

Not dazed at all, Joy forgot her tantrum and stumbled off to the closest water fountain.

Mercy lowered her head, re-arranging stuff in the pram as if nothing had happened.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/05/21/weekly-writing-challenge-142 with thanks).

Easter Eggs

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I was too old for chocolate Easter eggs. It was so hard resisting though when the shops were full of them. There was too much choice and that’s what put me off; do you go for plain and cheap? Fancy and expensive? Or something totally different like not chocolate but a egg made out of cheese!

I had to buy some for the grandchildren, there were six of them now. It wouldn’t be right them coming over and granny not having had a visit from the Bunny. It was always better to go for the Easter eggs that were cheapest choice or on a good deal. I got them last minute as I always did so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them myself! This year, I went with a deal; three eggs for five pounds. They were good large ones too!

And I might have brought one for me….Well, you need to treat yourself more often when you are almost ninety!

The Grotto (Part 3)

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We walked back down the queue which was full of chatting children and parents. Willow hugged the present as if she was never going to let it go. I really hoped there was a unicorn inside of there. Glad that was over, I realised I needed the bathroom and a drink.

‘Hey, how’d meeting the Big Man go?’ the male elf said loudly.

I stopped and grabbed my niece’s arm as he suddenly stood before us all green and bells tinkling. There was a huge grin on his face and he was just too happy. He reminded me of the Grinch after he’d stolen everything.

‘It’s fine thanks,’ I muttered.

‘I got a present,’ Willow said proudly and showed him the box.

‘Wow, that’s just great! You must have been good this year then!’ the elf said in fake shock.

‘I’ve been good! Can I have a present?’ a little boy’s voice shouted from the queue.

The elf turned and replied, ‘of course you can!’

We slipped past him and hurried away into the crowd. I’d had enough of this. Heading into the toilets, there was another queue to join but at least it wasn’t as long. I sighed and lent against the wall. Feeling tried and fed up of all these people. I shut my eyes but still the sounds came. A baby was crying loudly behind a closed door, a child was singing Jingle Bells, a young couple were having an argument and there was a constant chatter of other voices.

I felt Willow tug on my coat and I looked down at her.

‘That elf was a bit weird, wasn’t he?’ Willow asked.

‘He was just really happy, that’s all. It’s how they are, I guess…and I really needed the loo,’ I added.

‘Auntie Angel, tell me the truth, is Santa real?’

I rolled my eyes at her use of my name. God, I hated it with a passion. Like how people hate the taste of fish or the sight of a spider or the same Christmas song on repeat. And how I was meant to answer her question? I didn’t want to be the one to spoil Christmas but I hated to lie.

‘What did Santa say?’ I asked instead.

‘If I believed in him then he was real,’ Willow replied slowly.

‘Do you believe in fairies and unicorns and magic?’

‘Yes, I do! but Santa is just different…somehow.’

‘He’s more magical then the rest?’ I suggested as we become the head of the queue.

Willow shrugged and studied the colorful wrapping on the present.

After we’d been to the toilets, we went to a coffee shop, got drinks and small cakes then we walked to the bus stop. I avoided going anywhere near the Santa’s Grotto which meant we went the back way out of the shopping outlet and had to go around. Willow was quiet for the rest of the time, lost in her thoughts.

The bus was busy and I had to stand. A kind, older lady moved her shopping so Willow could have the seat next to her. I placed the bags at Willow’s feet and hung on tight. The bus driver must have been running late as he zoomed off and raced the traffic. The bus smelt like sweaty bodies, dirty water and oil. People were trying to keep to themselves with headphones, newspapers and phones whilst a few chattered about this person or that present or how they were tried of Christmas already!

‘Have you been to see Santa today? the older lady asked.

Willow nodded.

‘And that’s a present from him? You must have have been good girl then,’ she added.

Willow smiled a little and with a quick glance at me, said to the lady, ‘yes.’

‘Your sister’s so nice to take you shopping isn’t she? Did you buy a present for your mum?’

I pulled a face but held the words back in. I was too use to people guessing the relationship between us now. At least no one had called me Willow’s mum today! That’s always the worse, especially when you then work out the age difference.

‘My Auntie,’ Willow corrected, ‘she took me shopping for my family. We are best friends and she’s far more fun then my parents or baby brother.’

‘I bet she is!’ the lady said and smiled more brightly at me. ‘Are you going to save your present till Christmas day?’

‘Maybe…Do you believe in Santa?’ Willow asked.

‘Willow!’ I snapped.

‘It’s fine,’ the lady waved away, ‘yes I do believe still. It’s hard with all this technology and growing up so fast now. But Santa’s out there still, a symbol of hope and happiness for anyone who keeps believing.’

‘I like that,’ Willow said then under her breath, ‘but I’m still not any closer to the truth!’

The rest of the bus journey was normal and we got off before the lady did. We said good bye and merry Christmas then found ourselves stepping into a sleet storm. As the doors closed the bus pulled away, we hurried up the street we both lived on. My older brother’s house was first and the house I currently shared with my grandparents was close to the end of the street. Willow ran up the pathway and rang the doorbell. I had a key somewhere…

The door opened and we both rushed in.

‘It’s almost snowing!’ Willow cried to her dad.

‘It’s really meant to start tonight,’ her dad added, ‘what’s that? a present for me?’

‘No! It’s from Santa!’

‘Another one?’

Willow giggled and ran off to find her mum without taking anything but her boots off.

I looked at my brother, we were so alike we could still be mistake for twins at a distance. Same brown hair and brown eyes, same slightly over weight bodies, though he looked better then I did at the moment. There was four years between us but we’d been through everything together.

‘Hi Alex,’ I said, ‘it was hard to say no to her! but at least all the present buying is done now.’

‘Thanks, Angel. She’s really attached to you,’ he replied.

‘I should go…’

He pulled me into a hug then we said our goodbyes.

To Be Continued…

The Grotto (Part 2)

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We walked through a plastic curtain that was meant to be dripping icicles and entered the igloo. There was a thick patterned rug on the floor and a huge red plush throne which Santa was sat upon. There was a female elf at his side with a fake book holding loose papers. I remembered that we had been asked Willow’s name soon after we had joined the queue.

Santa looked like anyone you’d find in other shopping centres and events. He was tall and fat – though his stomach was probably padded out. His red suit was bright and the buttons shining. He had a huge white beard that looked almost real but really couldn’t be and matching long white hair. The face peering out from all of that was wrinkled and brushed with make up. Santa looked tried, but he was hiding it well behind that smile and twinkling blue eyes.

‘And who do we have here?’ Santa asked in a deep, jolly voice.

Willow walked over to him, her head and shoulders high, determined to gather more evidence for her mission. I hung back, hoping that she didn’t embarrass me.

‘Ah, Willow!’ Santa said with quick glance at the elf’s open book.

Willow stopped by his massive black boots and as if she was a toddler, Santa lifted her up and on to his knee. I had a flash thought about wondering how okay that was now a days. Willow seemed happy enough.

‘Have you been a good girl this year?’ Santa asked.

Willow nodded, ‘yes,’ she added.

The elf slide the book further down, allowing Santa to look at the pages.

‘Ah, I can see from the good list you have been! What would you like for Christmas?’ Santa asked.

‘A unicorn,’ Willow said quickly, ‘with a rainbow mane and tale, a golden horn and she has to be pink.’

Santa chuckled before saying, ‘I should be able to do that for you.’

‘Thank you,’ Willow replied then, ‘Can I ask you a few questions? It’s for a report at school.’

Santa looked a little worried and the elf’s big smile turned into a frown.

‘Go on,’ Santa said slowly, some of the jolliness gone from his voice.

‘How are you related to the real Santa? And don’t say you are ’cause I know that’s not true as the real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Santa looked thoughtful and in a whisper said, ‘I’m his cousin.’

‘Santa has a LOT of cousins,’ Willow mused.

‘He sure does but we must keep it a secret.’ Santa winked.

‘Are these elves real or just cousins too?’ Willow questioned.

‘Cousins. All the elves are needed at the moment to make all the toys.’

The elf shot me a look then give a small side nod to Willow. A clean sign she wanted me to remove my niece. I looked away, pretending I’d not seen and forcused on the glitter covered wall next to me as if I thought it was real ice. We had waited so long for this and I wasn’t about to drag Willow away…Unless she got too embarrassing.

‘But do know Santa right?’ Willow carried on talking.

‘Of course! And I’ll tell him you were asking about him,’ Santa replied.

‘What about the reindeer? Do they really fly by magic? Why doesn’t Santa get a motor, like on a speed boat?’

‘The reindeer do fly by magic dust but there is also a motor. It helps to get the sled around faster. That’s why it’s very hard to spot.’

‘What happens if things go wrong?’ Willow pressed.

The elf give a small cough and Santa glanced at her, she was tapping her empty wrist.

‘Santa has many back up plans if anything goes wrong. But everything is fully tested, so nothing ever does. Is that all? There are lots of other children waiting to see me,’ Santa explained.

Willow looked across at me then back up at Santa, ‘I guess….I’m still not closer to the truth though.’

‘The truth?’ Santa echoed.

‘Yes,’ Willow uttered as she swung her legs, ready to get down.

‘You want to know if Santa is really real don’t you?’ Santa voiced.

Willow looked startled at him and I bit my lip. It was so time to leave.

‘If you believe,’ Santa begin, ‘then he is real inside of your heart.’

Willow give a nod and slide off his knee.

‘Oh, don’t forget your present!’ the elf called and she handed Willow a gift wrapped in girly unicorn paper.

‘Is it a unicorn?’ Willow asked excitedly.

Santa laughed loudly and replied, ‘you’ll have to open it and see!’

‘Thanks for coming,’ the elf added.

Willow skipped over to me, a huge grin on her face. She showed me her present, her finger itching to open it.

‘We’ll open it at home,’ I told her.

Saying goodbye to Santa and his elf helper, we left the grotto.

To Be Continued…

The Grotto (Part 1)

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The queue to see Santa at the small shopping outlet was far too long but my eight year old niece, Willow, had really wanted to see him. So, after we had eaten lunch and done some Christmas shopping, we had joined the hour wait behind the red ropes.

‘Haven’t you seen Santa four times already?’ I asked her.

Willow give me a hard stare, her arms folded across her chest and replied, ‘yes, but I’m on a mission.’

I couldn’t help but smile. She was trying to look serious but it didn’t work with the cuteness of the grandma made knitted rainbow bobble hat and bright pink puff coat with unicorns on it.

‘What kind of mission?’ I asked.

‘To prove he’s real,’ Willow said in a low voice.

I lent down to hear her better as she explained, ‘kids in my class say he’s not real and it’s their parents who buy all the presents. I though want to prove he’s real and I can only do that by talking to as many ‘Santas’ as possible.’

I nodded then said, ‘but you know all the Santas are like the real Santa’s relatives, right? The real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Willow pressed her lips together and puffed out her cheeks, ‘I know.’

The queue moved a little and a mother ahead of us stopped a passing male elf to ask how long it would be.

‘It won’t be much longer now!’ the elf cheerily replied, ‘and have you been good children this year?’

I turned to Willow who was watching intently. The elf was too tall and it looked like the green trousers, jacket and hat were far too small for him. He was clean shaven and he had short blond hair. He was wearing fake pointy ear tips, there was a bell on the end of of his hat and also atop each of his green pointy shoes. He had red blush circles on his cheeks too and though it was hard to tell his age, he couldn’t have been more then twenty-six – close to my own age. Actually, if wasn’t dressed like he was I would have found him attractive!

He walked down the line, chatting to adults and kids then he reached us.

‘I think my auntie likes you!’ Willow spoke out.

‘Oi!’ I snapped and give her pink fluffy lined hood a tug.

Willow giggled and beamed at me as I felt my cheeks go red.

‘This is your aunt? Why I thought you were sisters!’ the elf said cheekily.

‘Are you a real elf?’ Willow asked.

‘Of course I am! Fresh from the North Pole! Only the best elves get to travel with Santa.’

‘How much longer is it going to be?’ I asked.

‘Shouldn’t be-‘

‘No,’ I cut him off, ‘the real time. We have a bus to catch.’

Willow look at me in shock but I tugged her hood again to stop her from speaking.

‘Oh….erm….an hour or so. He’s really popular today! I’m sure you could catch another bus….’ the elf trailed with a wide grin, ‘he’s worth the wait!’ he winked at Willow then walked off.

‘Meanie!’ Willow snarled, ‘I’m not leaving till I see him!’

She crossed her arms and turned away from me, nose in the air.

I signed and looked around. The shopping outlet shone and glittered with lights and sparkly decorations. Christmas music was playing in the background but the noise of people made it hard to only make out a few louder notes. The window displays of the near by shops were trying their hardest to compete with one another and also draw customers into spend lots of money. With it being the third Saturday to Christmas, a lot of people were doing just that.

Looking back at the Santa’s Grotto which was shaped like a large igloo covered in glitter surrounded by presents and models of penguins, bears and reindeer, I just couldn’t bring myself to drag Willow out of the queue and leave. So, we waited an hour and twenty minutes watching the shoppers and the elves until we were next.

There were two female elves at the front, one was taking money and the other photographs. They looked like twins with their green costumes, blonde hair, blue eyes and too much make up.

‘It’s five pounds to see Santa and another five if you want your photo taken with him,’ the first elf explained.

I glanced at Willow and she responded, ‘just Santa, please.’

‘Are you sure, sweetie?’ the second elf asked, swaying the large camera around her neck.

‘Yes,’ Willow and I said together.

I handed over the note from my purse and lead Willow up the cotton wool pathway. The family that had been before us came out and we went in.

To Be Continued….