Harriet had been so excited about the approach of Christmas that she had, for the most part, been unable to contain herself. She had been dragging her mother round all the Christmas displays in the shops. She could be heard squealing and pleading with her Mummy to buy everything that caught her eye, usually without success. This sometimes led to a foot stamping tantrum followed by a severe scolding from Mummy.
Even so, there had been a number of purchases to boost their hoard of tree decorations along with the essential Advent Calendar for Harriet. As it was now the first day of December, Harriet would be allowed to open the first box and remove the chocolate treat after her tea that night. Not only that, but today they were going to collect their Christmas tree and bring it home. Harriet had already decorated the tub that their tree always stood in and she couldn’t wait to start on the tree itself. Annoyingly, her Mummy always insisted on helping even though Harriet felt she could do a much better job on her own. Sometimes you just had to suffer the demands of grown ups especially when they had their uses like cooking the Christmas turkey and buying all the decorations and treats!
Harriet gulped down her breakfast so fast that it gave her hic ups which didn’t go until her Mummy blew up a paper bag and burst it behind Harriet when she wasn’t looking. Mummy seemed to find it very funny when Harriet nearly jumped out of her skin but Harriet wasn’t amused. “You shouldn’t scare little hares like that,” she said but had to admit that her hic ups had disappeared.
They were soon in the car and heading off to collect their tree which was, to Harriet’s delight, a very big one that would almost reach the ceiling of the living room where it was to stand for the whole of the festive season. Once they were back home, they carefully put it in its pot and spent the rest of the day decorating it. Harriet stood back and admired it when they had finished. It was beautiful. The only thing missing was the angel that went on top and they always waited until Christmas Eve to put that in place. Meanwhile, Harriet would knit a special costume for the angel to wear along with one for herself to dress up in.
Harriet spent the days running up to Christmas writing her cards and a new letter to Santa every time she thought of something else that she would like. Then, as her Mummy said she was being greedy and Santa wouldn’t be pleased with her, she wrote another letter asking him not to forget all the less fortunate children in the world. “Perhaps it would be better to give the Barbie doll that I asked for last week to one of them,” she wrote. “There, can’t be fairer than shat,” she thought!
Finally, it was Christmas Eve and Harriet’s Aunt and Uncle arrived with her cousin Horace Hare. They were staying for Christmas so it would be a real family gathering. Harriet liked Horace. They would play for hours inventing new games and having imaginary adventures along with a few real ones! Often they were told off for being too noisy but when they were quiet, their parents demanded to know what mischief they were cooking up. Grown ups can be very odd at times!
That evening, lots of presents were placed around the base of the tree and the angel was proudly placed on the very top watching over them as they all decided to sing ‘Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen’ although Horace insisted on singing ‘Good King Wenslas last looked out’ making Harriet laugh at him. She, of course, had learnt weeks ago that those were not the actual words! Still, everyone was in a good mood and they all laughed when Harriet and Horace went on to sing “We three kings of Orient are, one in a taxi one in a car, one on a scooter tooting his hooter following yonder star!”
After that, a mince pie and a glass of sherry were left out for Santa and Harriet and Horace were sent off to bed to get a good night’s sleep before the big day. Harriet, however, had other ideas. She knew that Santa would be arriving sometime during the night to put some extra presents round the tree for her and Horace and she wanted to see him so she could boast about it to all her friends. She had a plan and when all was quiet in the house she crept up to Horace’s bed and nudged him to wake him up. She explained to Horace that she was going to put on her angel costume and climb to the top of the tree and sit there instead of the tree angel. Santa would never guess that it was her if she kept very still and she would be able to tell some of her friends who didn’t believe in Santa how silly they were. “What about me?” asked Horace. “What do I do?” Harriet thought for a minute and then said, “You can wear my old pixie costume and climb onto the tree as well. Santa will think you are a tree decoration”
The two quietly dressed up in their costumes and crept downstairs to the living room. “Hurry,” said Horace, “I think I can hear sleigh bells. Come on, I’ll give you a leg up.” Horace heaved Harriet up to get her on her way and she continued to climb up the tree as carefully as she could but was in too much of a rush bearing in mind that Horace thought he heard Santa’s sleigh approaching. Suddenly she slipped and before she could stop herself she grabbed a branch with too much force and the whole tree came crashing down to the ground with an almighty bang.
“Oh no!” exclaimed Horace. “What do we do now?” “Quick,” said Harriet. “Let’s get our costumes off.” Luckily, they had put them on over their pyjamas and just managed to remove them and stuff them under the couch when the door opened and Harriet’s Mummy appeared waving a brass candlestick with some menace. “What on earth?” she cried. “We heard a noise,” explained Harriet and ran down to see what it was. “I think it must have been Santa and we scared him,” she continued. “He must have accidentally knocked the tree over as he ran out.” The two stood in front of Harriet’s Mummy looking as innocent as possible. “A likely tale,” she grumbled. “Get back to bed the pair of you. We’ll sort this out in the morning. It’s a shame that Santa didn’t have time to leave the extra presents for you but I do see that he ate his mince pie and drank his sherry!” “Perhaps he had too many sherries,” giggled Harriet “and that’s why he knocked the tree down!”
The pair retreated hastily out of the room and up to bed. “Another one of your bright ideas gone wrong,” moaned Horace. Now we won’t get our extra presents from Santa. “No, but we will get to decorate the tree again,” smiled Harriet. “Swings and roundabouts!”
Charles M Scott 2014