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Open Features: A Small Miracle

Oh yes, there is a Father Christmas!

Terry Marsh tells a tasty and timely tale.

Amelia was worried. Gran said people shouldn’t worry it gave them wrinkles, so while she was worrying Amelia looked very carefully to see if any wrinkles had appeared, because she took Gran very seriously. And the reason she took Gran very seriously was that Gran had told her to.

One day when they were alone together Gran had said “Amelia I am an old woman and I must be taken very seriously. I can remember trams.’’ Amelia had no idea what trams were, but she did take Gran very seriously indeed, especially when she said such things as “This family thrives on crisises”. Crisises like trams were outside Amelia’s comprehension. Perhaps they were like circuses.

Anyway, it was yet another crisis that sent Mum and Gran scurrying out laden with baskets and bags. The fire guard had been put in place, the matches had been put on the top shelf and Amelia had been told, as usual, not to play with the gas taps.

“Remember” said Gran, as she went through the door “you’re in complete charge”. Amelia spent some time wondering just what she was in charge of. “I suppose I’m in charge of Timmy”. Timmy the cat was stretched out on the rug in front of the fire. Amelia woke him up and told him that she was in complete charge. The cat seemed reassured and went back to sleep and Amelia went back to her worrying.

It was her friend Christine that was causing all the worrying, or rather something Christina said. It happened yesterday at nursery school.

Christina had taken her aside from all the others to impart her dreadful secret. “There’s no such person as Santa Claus. It’s just – “ and she hurried the last bit as if she wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible – “people dressed up”.

Amelia was devastated. It sounded terrible, but after all Christina was four nearly five, whereas she was only three nearly four, so Christina should know, but it was very worrying and there was no-one she could ask.

*

Jimmy Thompson was bored. What a way to spend the days before Christmas! He was a real salesman best in the south east, to be used in a stunt like this. Get out of the car, walk up to the door, knock very loud, ask if they had a packet of Snowdrift handy and could they repeat the jingle. Of course, they had the packet and of course they could repeat the jingle. They’d seen it on television seven times a night for the past two weeks, and they were all waiting for their turkeys, remembering – “We all know that Snowdrift’s best, Washes whiter than the rest”.

Still he was bored and fast losing enthusiasm, but there was just one more call to make. There was one consolation, the outfit was good and not at all tatty. The boots were knee length and real leather, the beard really looked like a beard and as he was a serious drinking man, he filled the costume to perfection.

Out of the car, up the garden path, small girl looking through the window. He wasn’t very good with small girls. He hadn’t time to knock. The door opened. “Do come in Santa Claus, I’m afraid there’s no-one home but Timmy and me. Timmy’s the cat”.

“i don’t know if I should come in as there’s no-one home. Perhaps they wouldn’t like strangers coming in”. “You’re not a stranger Santa Claus. Besides I want to tell you something. I’m worried …..” and she went on to tell him the whole story.

“This friend of yours, this Christina, bit of a big head is she, knows it all?” “She is my very best friend” said Amelia reproachfully “and she is four, nearly five”. “Whereas you?…..” questioned Jimmy. “I’m only three nearly four and I may get lines from worrying.” “We’ll have to see what we can do to stop that. Sorry about the ‘Big Head’ bit, but sometimes these people who know it all are right. Before we go any further, do I look like ‘people dressed up?’ ”.

“Oh no” said Amelia, “You look like Santa Claus”. “I look like Santa Claus because I am Santa Claus. Let me explain. I can’t be everywhere at once, so in some places there are people dressed up and I must admit , some of them aren’t very good at it, and they give people, like your good friend Christina, ideas. Sorry.”

“Christina may be my best friend but she’s not very bright is she? She should have worked that out for herself”. “Be fair” said Santa Claus “you didn’t work it out either, but anyway you won’t worry any more, which means the lines are taken care of. And now I must be going, but before I do, a message. Will you tell your Mum and Gran that Santa Claus called and he will be sending them a turkey first thing tomorrow”.

*

For Jimmy, back to the depot. Down to the packing room. “Charlie I got a job for you, first thing tomorrow the largest turkey in stock, in a plain box, no Snowdrift ads, not a sign of where it came from, to be delivered by hand to MISS AMELIA MEADOWS and here’s the address, and here’s a couple of quid which should take care of it all.”

Amelia couldn’t wait for the returning shoppers to get in the door. “Santa Claus called and he’s sending a turkey first thing tomorrow”. “Yes, dear” said Gran, “Oh for a cup of tea put the kettle on”.

While they were unpacking the bags she tried again. “Yes dear” said Mum “Where’s Auntie Annie’s calendar?” Amelia gave up.

*

Christmas Eve. Amelia was up at the crack of dawn. The postman arrived early but no turkey. People began drifting down to breakfast, no one seemed to be in any hurry which was just as well, but still no turkey. Breakfast was finished, the washing up was done when Gran broke the news. They were all going out together, Amelia included, to buy the turkey.

Amelia tried one last time. “We don’t have to go out, Santa Claus is sending us a turkey”. Mum and Gran looked at each other and sighed, but said nothing.

Soon everyone was getting ready. Amelia had to hold things up. Although the day was sunny and the streets dry she insisted on wearing her wellies. They took an endless time to put on and today she wasn’t helping at all. There wasn’t much else she could do.

They were in the hall all ready to go when there was a knock at the door. Outside was a small boy with a large parcel. The parcel had an even larger label which said “To Amelia Meadows from Santa Claus.”

Amelia explained all over again, and when she finished she said “I told you, you didn’t listen”.

“You’re quite right” said Gran “we didn’t listen. We should listen, especially to children, especially at Christmas”.

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