It is most disconcerting to discover one’s home being tossed and violently shaken when one least expects it. Even more so to discover that your home is then felled, carried to a ramshackle vehicle, tied onto the roof with rope and whisked away from your home forest… with you still in it! I tried to complain but the opportunity didn’t arise; too much noise and kerfuffle. So here I am, hanging on for dear life to the topmost branches of my home fir, as they bounce and sway over the windscreen of a battered white Fiesta, on the way to… somewhere.
I am well camouflaged and despite myself, enjoying this adventure, wherever it takes me.
The sights are amazing. As one largely used to woodlands, the rough ride I am on, is taking me along narrow tracks surrounded by trees, then fields, and gradually progressing onto black tarmacked streets, bounded by rows of houses. It is dusk and inky night is gradually stealing over the land, snuffing out the last of the sunset and causing lights to be lit in windows.The clear sky of a winter’s afternoon, has become the black sky of a frosty night, with pinpricks of stars becoming visible. People, wrapped against the cold are hurrying to get home from work. I have heard of places like this. Humans have long been discussed amongst our fairy folk, and always with interest. I shall have plenty of new knowledge to share on my return but before I think any further – our journey stops.
With a final bounce, my fir tree is parked outside a small cottage. The front door opens, light spilling into the darkness, along with two excited adolescents and a woman wearing an apron.
‘Oh Ted, “ she calls “That is a handsome tree!’
I beam with pride. A boy of about twelve and his older sister, quickly untie the heavy knots. Everyone, carefully manoeuvres my tree into their small living room, to adorn a corner. The next few hours are a blur, as they dress my home in beautiful coloured baubles and long strings of tinsel. I hide deep amongst the branches, fascinated by it all. It is very warm indoors, so when all is done, I fall fast asleep.
Over the next few days, I learn a great deal about this family. There is not much money in the house, but slowly gifts are accumulating under my boughs, all labelled and well wrapped in printed paper and coloured strings. The children have saved pocket money, and the adults have eked out their wages to give their family a Christmas they would all enjoy. Grandma is coming to stay too and bringing little gifts of her own. However, I listen to their choices and reflect that in my opinion, some of the gifts are a little predictable…especially having met trendy grandma. So, on Christmas Eve when all are asleep, I work a little magic and change some of the labels.
And so it is that on Christmas morning, there are many exclamations of surprise as gifts are handed out that were not originally designated for that recipient. Grandma is thrilled with her fleecy ‘onesie’, and granddaughter Jane is delighted with a knitting set, to make a cosy hat and scarf. Dad is really pleased with his hand cream – great for winter gardening and Mum is delighted with a small toolkit!
After the Queen’s speech, I see them learning the jive to Billy’s CD of Bill Haley and the Comets and later, watching Janie’s DVD of Morecombe and Wise compilation clips.
‘Who was Andre Previous, anyway?’ asked Billy innocently, as the adults collapsed laughing.
Grandma paints her nails three different colours, while mum sips sherry and passes the sweet tin around. Dad enjoys a beer, content…Everyone got at least one thing they didn’t expect and although this year was a little unusual, I know I played my part to make their special day even more memorable!