Christmas stocking in tow, excitement bubbling over, the little girl scampered along to her parents’ room when she suddenly remembered the stockings she had put together for them. Although only eight years old and desperately wanting to still believe in Father Christmas, despite some of her friends saying it was all a big story, she had learned that he never left stockings for parents. Somehow that didn’t seem right to her, so this year she had been gathering tiny gifts by saving her pocket money. She had begun in earnest in October, bribing her brother to contribute and together they had squirreled away a small collection of parcels. By now, they were a little torn around the edges on account of the number of times they had been opened and reopened, just to check of course. However she had decided her parents wouldn’t mind, they had always told her that it was the thought that counted and she’d certainly thought quite hard!
Hurrying back to her wardrobe she pulled out the secret stockings, looking, she had to admit, rather meager compared to the ones Father Christmas had left her! However, knowing it was too late to do anything about that now she rushed with them back to her parents’ room.
Paper, ribbons and small toys were strewn across the bed, her younger brother was earnestly shaking packages from his stocking, her mother was smiling indulgently at the scene and her father, still looking half asleep, was obediently opening his mouth as his youngest daughter posted pieces of tangerine in, which she had just unraveled from the bottom of her stocking.
The little girl, dropping her own stocking, exclaimed in exaggerated surprise that she had found two more stockings at the foot of her parents’ bed which must have been left for them!
Her mother looked dutifully thrilled and poking her father, muttered something sternly to him, which the little girl couldn’t quite catch. Unperturbed, she climbed up to join the mounting chaos, after somewhat of a tousle, gently resolved by her mother, some of the paper was redistributed to the floor and each child repositioned with ‘their pile’ to open. Somehow her mother seemed to know what belonged to whom and with peace restored the excited paper tearing continued. The parents were urged to open their stockings and despite the somewhat surprising collection of gifts they seemed to be joyfully received and the little girl was thrilled, nudging her brother that all their efforts had not been in vein!
In a moment of unexpected quiet the little sister suddenly demanded, as only four year olds can, “Where’s my dolly?” For weeks she had been telling everyone that she had asked Father Christmas for a new doll. Her bottom lip started to tremble and tears seemed not far away.
“By the tree, by the tree!” shouted her brother and he was off, tumbling down the stairs two at a time, he had asked for a new tricycle and was clearly hoping it might be there. The little girl took her sister’s hand and told her they should follow. Not quite sure what was going on, her thumb now firmly in her mouth, with their mother right behind them, they left their father, still trying to push his feet into his slippers, to join their brother by the Christmas tree.
The small boy’s face was a picture, he sat beaming on a shiny, new tricycle, still half covered in paper, ringing its’ small silver bell in sheer delight. The little girl, spying what she thought might be a box with a doll in it, dragged her sister towards the tree and then remembered that she too had asked for something special. She had seen a pretty watch in a shop window when visiting her grandmothers and showing it to her parents, who she knew seemed to have some say in what presents arrived, had asked for it for Christmas. There was no small ‘watch looking box’ in sight. Had Father Christmas forgotten her?