You can’t go wrong with an Argos product reference number…
THE WRONG PRESENT
Jemima folded the letter in half and put it inside the envelope. On the front she wrote in her best seven year-old writing, Father Christmas, North Pole, The World. She placed it on the floor and the closed her eyes tightly and crossed her fingers, clasping her hands together.
She had written her Christmas letter; there had only been one thing on her wish list this year. She thought if she only had one thing she was more likely to get what she wanted.
Picking up the envelope she ran downstairs. ‘I’ve done my letter for Father Christmas, has Toby done his?’ she asked her mum, as she skipped around the kitchen table.
‘Yes, it’s here, are you both ready to post them?’ Toby shot in from the lounge wearing his coat and shoes. ‘Yes, yes,’ he shouted with glee.
They both ran down the road to the post box. ‘I’m going to make a wish as I post mine,’ Jemima said and closed her eyes for the second time that morning, then let the envelope flop into the post box. ‘I’m going to do the same.’ Toby said, and stood on tiptoe to reach the box ‘I wish.. .’ he started to say out loud.
‘Don’t say it out loud Toby or it won’t come true.’ Jemima danced around the post box as Toby dropped his letter inside.
‘I might be five but I know what to do,’ he said as he followed Jemima around the post box.
‘I’m so excited, it’s nearly Christmas time,’ Jemima said to Toby as they walked home.
‘Soooo am I, I have written everything down from the Argos catalogue. I thought I would write the page numbers so Father Christmas would know where to get them.’
‘Father Christmas doesn’t go to Argos silly, he makes all the toys in Lapland, in his special toy factory. I just asked for one thing. It’s not from Argos either,’ she said smiling to herself.
‘What did you ask for Jemima?’ Toby asked.
‘It’s a secret,’ she replied.
The next two weeks went by very quickly. Jemima and Toby had tried to be well behaved as they kept reminding each other that Father Christmas came to good children. On Christmas Eve, late in the afternoon Mum had brought home a tree. Toby and Jemima helped her decorate it with their favourite baubles, lights and tinsel. The tree always looked over-full and Jemima wondered if there would be any room for any new baubles. There always seem to be a little space; this year she placed a pretty fairy with purple wings on the tree.
Christmas Eve night was always difficult to sleep. Jemima kept waking up thinking she could hear the reindeer. Toby kept whispering from the other side of the room, asking if it was time to get up yet. Jemima kept “shushing” him, just in case Father Christmas heard them.
Then the light of morning shone through the curtains and Jemima and Toby raced down the stairs. There in the lounge were two piles of presents, one with Toby’s name on and the other with Jemima’s name on. They danced around and squealed with delight.
At the bottom of Jemima’s pile was a very big box. She smiled to herself. Father Christmas had got her letter. She would save the big present for last.
Slowly the two of them opened one gift at a time. Chatting to their parents as the pile of paper grew higher.
Eventually Jemima got to the last present, the big box. In her glee she burst out singing: ‘he bought me a fiddle, he bought me a fiddle.’ There was silence in the room as she slowly opened the last present. As she lifted the lid of the box the smile dropped from her face. She was silent. ‘Oh,’ she said, and big teardrops ran down her face.
‘What’s wrong?’ Toby asked her.
‘It’s not a fiddle, I only asked for a fiddle,’ she said as the teardrops fell from her chin.
‘What’s a fiddle? Isn’t that a fiddle?’ he asked her.
‘A violin, I just wanted a violin,’ she said and sat down.
‘That’s a violin,’ Toby said. He had no idea what a violin was: it sounded good.
‘It’s a guitar,’ she said. ‘It’s not quite what I asked for.’
Jemima felt quite despondent. It hadn’t been worth only asking for one thing. Father Christmas has bought her lots of lovely gifts, but he obviously couldn’t read the word ‘violin.’
‘Hey,’ said Toby. ‘Obviously Father Christmas was like me and didn’t know what a fiddle was. Anyway look if you do this on the stringy things its fiddling isn’t it?’ and he strummed his fingers along the strings and a sound came out.
‘Guess so,’ she replied, and picked up the guitar.
‘Looks like I’m going to have to learn to play this instead. It’s not quite so easy to carry around. Next time I am going to choose something from the Argos catalogue with the page number like you. Then he can’t get it wrong again can he?’ she looked at Toby and smiled.
He laughed. ‘Told you the Argos catalogue was where Father Christmas got his toys. I’ll share mine if you like.’
She smiled at him, he might be her annoying little brother, but sometimes he was quite right. ‘Let’s play your new game then,’ she said to him as they settled down to a day of eating, playing games and laughing.
© Katherine Loverage (2015)