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The Day Before Yesterday: 18 - The Snow Fairy

...We didn't feel the cold as we walked to school that evening. Warm winter coats covered all our finery. It looked like Fairyland passing all the gleaming windows. After the party was over we had the fancy dress parade. We all walked around slowly, passing the teachers who were the judges. Thanks to Dorothy, I won first prize, a pretty decorated box with four different colours of note paper and envelopes in it...

Gladys Schofield recalls Christmas festivities.

We didn't get much of a holiday at Christmas, just until the New Year, but it was always an exciting time with a big Christmas party at school. The infants had theirs in the afternoon with Father Christmas visiting them. Ours was held in the evening, a group of us would walk together.

Christmas was celebrated in a big way. Christmas trees were placed in the windows and the curtains drawn back. Tiny candles in all colours sat on every branch end, just like we have fairy lights now. They would all glisten into the dark night. In the town square a very large pine tree was decorated and the shop windows glowed with all the festivity.

It was a fancy dress party this year. I mentioned my sister made their costumes for the dancing troop. In fact she made all her dresses by this time. At seventeen she was quite an accomplished sewer. Some material was spare from the silvery dress she had made earlier, so she decided to make a fancy dress costume for me. It had a full little skirt, decorated all around the edge with cotton wool. Tiny pom-poms of this were down the bodice also and on the little silver hat. Two wings finished the dress off behind with tinsel all around the edge. I had a wand and even a pair of my light shoes were covered over with the same material. Yes, I was a snow fairy.

We didn't feel the cold as we walked to school that evening. Warm winter coats covered all our finery. It looked like Fairyland passing all the gleaming windows. After the party was over we had the fancy dress parade. We all walked around slowly, passing the teachers who were the judges. Thanks to Dorothy, I won first prize, a pretty decorated box with four different colours of note paper and envelopes in it. Miss Holdsworth presented the prizes. She was retiring this Christmas. I felt as though a light had been extinguished when she went.

Mrs Thorpe had a lovely Christmas tree. It stood in all its glory amongst the goodies in the window of her shop. I would often gaze at it on my way too and from school. The decorations drew my eye, they looked so expensive, each one different.

Christmas was nearly here and Mum asked me to call at the shop for something she needed. Mrs Thorpe smiled and said, "Have you got a Christmas tree at home, Love?"

"Oh yes", I said "but not as big as yours."

"Would you like this one?" she then asked me.

"I couldn't do that or you wouldn't have one for yourself."

She then said, "I've been talking with my sister and we both agree it should go where it can be appreciated. It's getting too much trouble putting it up and taking it down every year."

I just stared at her in astonishment wondering why she wanted to give it to us. At last I managed to thank her. "Come back later and I will pack it up for you."

"I must tell Mum, you are so kind," I managed to say and off I ran to tell the news.

Mum insisted on walking back with me to thank her, herself.

"What better place could it go? You've got a bonny family. They are all as bright as buttons."

John had another pet now and so had Ted. They were pet mice and were supposed to stay in a cage in their bedrooms. Unknown to Mum they played with them after they had gone to bed at night, letting them run in and out of the bedclothes, making little burrows for them. They were quite easy to see. One was a silvery grey colour, the other black and white.

One night they got lost. We hunted all over the house but they had just disappeared. They were soon forgotten as young minds turned to other things, and my brothers had been told "No more mice." Things went on as usual after Mum had laid down the law once again.

We began to notice all was not well in the kitchen. Things were getting nibbled and telltale droppings were starting to appear all around the place. Mum bought a trap and each morning a mouse was caught, not the common field mouse, they were all colours and still there seemed to be more and they were getting more cunning too.

They could take the morsel of cheese and leave the trap unsprung. So Mum thought she would have to be as cunning as they were and thought of another plan. She put a saucer on the floor and an upturned cup on it, then wedged a thimble under the cup, open side inward and bated the thimble. This worked every time until we had a mouse -free home. She drowned the mice caught under the cup, something we couldn't watch but it had to be done I suppose.

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