Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Eve - A Fairy Tale

I almost forgot! A Christmas story or two, just a little bit late...

Christmas Eve
By Sarah McCartney

Eve was born on 24th December and her parents named her after her dad’s grandmother. It was only after they’d signed the birth certificate and the registrar laughed a little and said,
“That’s funny, naming her after Christmas Eve,” that they realised what they’d done.
All through her schooldays people thought it was funny to say, “So it’s nearly Christmas, Eve!” She could stand that, but what she really hated was that although her brother and sister both got birthday presents and Christmas presents from their friends and family, she only ever got one.
“We got you something bigger to combine birthday and Christmas,” they said, but the presents were never twice as big, just around 10% larger. What was worse was that she was never allowed to open them on her birthday; they had to be saved for Christmas Day, so that she wouldn’t be left sitting there with nothing to do while everyone else ripped through the recycled packaging of their Christmas gifts.

One Christmas Eve, Eve was sitting by the window staring at the crescent moon.
“Eve” whispered a clear bell-like voice that she’d never heard before.
She looked down into the garden but there was no-one there, although she was sure the voice had come from outside.
“Eve, out here!” the voice called again. Looking outside she noticed that the moon seemed to be waving an aura of sparkles at her. It was frosty outside and she didn’t really want to get cold, but she opened the window and called quietly,
“Moon? Is that you?”
“Yes! Of course it is,” said the moon and send a shower of sparking moondust down a moonbeam straight into Eve’s bedroom to keep her warm.
“I’ve got something for you,” said the moon, “and it’s for your birthday when everyone forgets about you but me.” The sky turned from cloudy grey to a deep purply blue, the moon itself glowed an amazing bright golden yellow and Eve could smell flowers, even though there were none in the garden. Then a small, glittering parcel shot down a moonbeam right through the window and landed on her bed next to Theo, her teddy bear. It unwrapped itself and revealed a deep blue bar with a golden moon on top; its perfume was a blend of exotic jasmine and calming ylang ylang, just right for melting away all her anxieties and worries about the unfairness of being born on Christmas Eve.
“Put it in the bath, Eve,” said the moon, and every time I see you, I’ll send you another one.”
Eve never actually spoke to the moon again. Sometimes she opened the window and waved, hoping to start up another conversation, but probably the moon was a bit busy talking to other children. But every now and again, when she’d had a bad day, Eve found another magical parcel on her bed.
“Mum, Dad! I’ll just have a bath!” she would shout, and they were delighted that Eve was so keen to keep herself clean, and they never did work out quite where that beautiful scent came from.

Want to Believe
By Sarah McCartney

“Father Christmas is coming tonight” shouted Emily, all excited. She would be awake every hour wondering if he’s got there, running into her brother’s room to see if he was ready to go and look under the tree for presents.
Joe wasn’t so sure. People at school had told him that their parents gave them their Christmas presents and that there was no such thing as Father Christmas, no reindeer, no sleigh and no coming down the chimney. He was sure he had heard him the previous year, but perhaps it was his mum and dad after all.
“Is there really a Father Christmas?” he asked them at tea time and he saw them glance at each other quickly.
“It’s like this,” said his dad, “If you believe in him, then he’ll bring your presents, but if you don’t, then we have to do it for him.” This was a dilemma. Joe was a very considerate boy and he didn’t want his parents to have to buy things out of their own money just because he doubted the practicalities of the Father Christmas myth.
“I do want to believe,” he said and got on with eating his pasta.
He asked his grandmother what to do.
“Gran,” he said, “If I don’t believe in Father Christmas, I’m going to put mum and dad to a lot of expense, but I don’t really see how a sleigh can fly or how a fat man can get down the chimney. What can I do?”
“Hmmm,” said his gran to buy some time, “There is one story that says that if you are good you will get your presents but if you are bad, you will get a lump of coal.”
“I’ve been pretty good, I think,” said Joe, who was quite a good boy most of the time, “So I want to believe that too.”
Joe was confused, but it wasn’t enough to keep him awake. In the morning Emily woke Joe up, leaping around and giggling with delight at the lovely things Father Christmas had brought her. Joe looked and saw a pile of coal at the end of his bed.
“Oh no!” he wailed, “Everything’s gone wrong and it’s all my fault.” Then he picked up the coal and noticed that it smelled sweet; he licked it and found that it tasted of sugar; he bit it and it was delicious! Downstairs he found a stack of presents and they all said, “To Joe, with love from mum and dad.”
“I’m sorry you had to buy them, but I couldn’t believe any more,” he said to them giving them each a big hug.
“That’s OK Joe,” said his mum. “We wanted to buy them for you anyway.”
Then Joe remembered the pile of coal sweets upstairs.
“Thanks for the sweets, too” he said.
“What sweets?” asked his mum and she looked at his dad with her eyebrows raised. His dad gave one of those “don’t look at me” glances and shook his head.
“That was odd,” thought Joe. “Even though I don’t believe in Father Christmas, I definitely believe in something.”

Monday, 7 December 2009

Father Frost - A Morality Tale

Father Frost
Father Frost is a northern European winter tale that turns up with slight variations. Here's a new version, from Father Frost's point of view.


Once upon a time in December, Father Frost was travelling north. He'd spent most of the year camped out at the pointy end of Patagonia where it was as frosty as the frosting on a frozen ice cream cake. He also rather like watching the penguins. Humming his favourite Beatles song, he guided his sleigh with a skilful flick of the wrist so his three faithful reindeer knew just where to set him down in northern Russia. The air crackled as he inhaled the reassuringly cold atmosphere, cold enough to kill any normal man. This was his land, his territory and he was reclaiming his kingdom where he reigned unchallenged every Yuletide.

Each year he hoped to find a worthy companion, someone he could trust, someone who didn't just want to be by his side because he was powerful or rich or famous or dangerous. He was all of these things and old enough to know that they usually attracted exactly the wrong sort of people.

As he glanced around his kingdom he saw something move in the forest, so he headed towards it. It was a girl, a pretty girl who was shivering with cold, and dressed in what looked like last year's summer party clothes, anyway they were hardly adequate for the occasion. In the distance, he saw an old man walking away with his shoulders hunched; he looked as though he was sobbing in pain and misery.

"Here we go," thought Father Frost, "yet another example of the appalling behaviour that I've come to expect from these people." As he got closer to the girl she started to shake with terror as well as with the cold. He had this effect on people as soon as they recognized him. Nevertheless she looked him straight in the icy blue eyes and said politely,
"Good afternoon, Father Frost. I hope that your journey wasn't too tiring."
"It was fine, thanks," said Father Frost, "and how are you? Not too cold out here?" He smiled rather wickedly at this challenge and wondered which of the many lines he'd heard before she would try out on him.
" I'm great!" she said as cheerfully as she could manage through chattering teeth. That was a new one. Usually they begged for his pity, asked us to be wrapped up in his nice warm cloak and attempted to wheedle their way his affections. Sometimes it worked, but he would get bored with them, and gently freeze them to death with one ice cold breath.
"It can't last,” he thought to himself and asked her again but every time she told him she was doing fine even though it was as clear as an icicle that she was about to drop dead with cold.
"Could it be?" he wondered, "that I have finally found a genuinely unselfish human being?" and he decided to reward her for her patience. He wrapped her up in furs (because in those days there were no synthetic fibres and no animal rights campaigners) and whisked her off to his palace, where she had a nice warm bath and found the most beautiful blue velvet clothes waiting for her, some stunning silver jewellery and a great big box of treasure.

"This is really very kind of you, Father Frost," she said, "but I can't possibly accept them. Besides, now that my stepmother has thrown me out of the house, if I go back there I'm sure she'll have my dad put to death and I couldn't bear that to happen, so if it's alright with you, I’ll just take the cloak and a good pair of boots and be on my way."

Father Frost sent the reindeer and the sleigh off to bring her dad back to the palace, then loaded the treasure, daughter and dad onto his magic vehicle and sent them back home. Occasionally he liked to set up a little scenario and watch how it played out but this one was worse than he could have imagined. When she saw all the precious things, the evil stepmother, who had sent our lovely girl out to the woods to die, decided to send her own rather unpleasant, greedy daughter out there too. It didn't go well. The greedy girl complained, moaned, whinged and whimpered until Father Frost was so bored, he exhaled on her and turned her to snow then blew a bit harder and caused a blizzard in Stockton on Tees.

Now that he had finally found someone who could be trusted, he invited his new friend to help him give out all the good children's rewards at Yuletide. He didn't ask her name. He decided to call her Snowflake and asked her always to wear beautiful blue and silver clothes. Even though she was quite an independent minded young woman she decided that this was fair enough, considering the circumstances. From that day onwards she accompanied him around the world and really enjoyed watching the penguins in Patagonia.