Over the last ten months many of our services have moved online where possible, and we have introduced lots of activities to support our members to learn new skills, stay connected and keep busy. Our Creative Writing Group runs on a Thursday and has been very popular with members. Here is a Christmas story they would like to share with us.
THE ROBIN WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS
Written by the Neighbourhood Networks Creative Writing Group
Carol and Jack were visiting Santa’s Grotto at the Carden Centre in North Pole Road with the rest of their class. On the way back to school everyone was talking about what they’d said to Santa.
‘What did you ask Santa to bring you?’ asked Oliver, the class bully.
‘We asked him to bring us each a bike,’ said Carol.
‘A bike!’ said Oliver. ‘You’ll be lucky. Everyone knows how poor you are. You even go to the foodbank to get your dinner. How can your parents afford bikes?’
‘But we asked Santa,’ said Jack. ‘Santa doesn’t need money.’
‘You really are stupid, the pair of you,’ said Oliver. ‘That’s not the real Santa. That’s just an old geezer dressed up for the Garden Centre. And he’s as deaf as a post. I had to shout at him three times that I wanted an X-Box.’
Carol and Jack were feeling very sad as they made their way home. What Oliver said was true. They were quite poor just now. Ever since their dad had lost his job because of the pandemic, their mum was finding it hard to make proper meals for them all without the help of the foodbank. And deep down they knew the person at the garden centre wasn’t really Santa, but they’d enjoyed pretending their wishes might come true.
Mum and Dad had told them this Christmas wouldn’t be the same as other years. They couldn’t even afford to buy a tree.
On Saturday afternoon, as they were walking home from the park with their dad, they passed the Garden Centre on North Pole Road. They saw a workman lifting a tree into a lorry. The man explained the tree had been damaged in the storm a couple of days ago.
‘No-one will want to buy it in this state,’ said the man.
‘Can we have it?’ asked Jack. ‘We don’t have a tree.’
‘But we don’t have any money, Jack,’ Carol reminded her brother.
The man smiled at them and said of course they could have the tree – for nothing.
Carol and Jack helped their dad to carry the tree home. Mum dug out the decorations from the back of a cupboard and they spent the rest of the day decorating it with tinsel and little silver bells. In the evening they strung popcorn together while mum made some little gingerbread men to hang on the tree.
It might be a bit damaged and a bit lopsided, but the children thought it was a beautiful tree.
The first thing they did when they got up the next morning was to go and look at the tree. But, oh dear, something had happened during the night. The popcorn was nearly all gone and the gingerbread men had been nibbled at.
‘We must have a mouse,’ said Dad. ‘I’ll put a trap down.’
The children made more popcorn and hung it on the tree. But the next morning, the same thing had happened. The popcorn was gone and there were more bites out of the gingerbread men. But the mousetrap hadn’t been touched.
That night, the children decided to keep watch to find out who or what was helping themselves to the things on their tree. Once their parents were asleep they crept downstairs and waited. At first nothing happened, and then they heard the branches rustling and the sound of tinkling coming from the silver bells.
Feeling nervous they made their way over to the tree and gasped. There, perched on one of the branches, nibbling at some gingerbread, was a robin.
When Jack looked up to the top of the tree he could see a little nest made out of red and blue tinsel.
‘He must have been in the tree when we brought it home,’ Jack whispered.
‘We can’t put him out in the cold at this time of night,’ said Carol.
They decided to leave a window open a little bit so the robin could fly off in the morning if he wanted to. And they made sure there was plenty left for him to eat and put out a bowl of water for him to drink before they went back to bed.
What the children didn’t know was that this was no ordinary robin. His name was Holly and he was one of Santa’s helpers at the Garden Centre on the North Pole Road. Holly waited until he was sure everyone was asleep and then he flew off to find Santa. He told Santa how kind the children had been to him, making sure he had food and water, and how they didn’t throw him out in the cold. He also told Santa how he’d heard them talking about how hard it was going to be this Christmas and how they knew they wouldn’t get the bikes they’d asked for. Holly had also heard them talking about Oliver the bully and how rude they thought he was, saying Santa was deaf and shouting that he wanted an X-box. Then Holly flew back to his comfy tinsel nest. And Jack and Carol continued to take care of him.
At last it was Christmas Day. Carol and Jack were up at the crack of dawn. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw two shiny new bikes waiting for them. To tell the truth, neither could their parents.
After lunch they went out for a ride and saw Oliver sitting outside his house. He didn’t look at all happy.
‘Look what Santa brought us,’ they called to Oliver.
‘You got bikes?’ said Oliver, not even trying to keep the surprise out of his voice.
‘It must have been the real Santa, after all,’ said Carol. ‘We got exactly what we asked for.’
‘Did you get your X-box, Oliver?’ asked Jack.
‘Are you trying to be funny? yelled Oliver. ‘I told you that old guy was stone deaf. I asked for an X-box and this is what I got.’
He bent down and picked up a square of grey cardboard lying at his feet.
‘An egg box,’ said Jack. ‘He thought you were asking for an egg box?’
Carol and Jack said goodbye and rode off as fast as they could so Oliver didn’t see them laughing.
This had turned out to be the best Christmas ever. And after it was over Dad had promised they could plant the tree in the garden so that Holly could live there in his tinsel nest for as long as he wanted.