A Short Story About A young Girl's Gift Of Premonition: The Unwanted Gift II
Pops and Poppy Flying a kite
The Unwanted Gift II
Christmas was the most magical of times with Nan and Pops. Those wonderful memories of noise, chaos, togetherness, and above all, a sense of love, weaved a golden tapestry of images in Poppy's mind that would remain with her always.
Christmas morning, still in her dressing gown and pyjamas, Poppy galloped downstairs to claim her gifts, each one carefully chosen for her by Santa. She knew this because Pops told her so, and Pops never told a lie. Yes indeed, Christmas was the happiest time of her life.
On the night before Christmas, Poppy would be so excited she could barely sleep, the incident at the beach was soon forgotten. The children walked back towards the old house in near silence. Tom held tightly to Poppy's hand, he was deep in thoughts and appeared somewhat distracted, as the old house came into view. The children were surprised to see the old man dangerously perched on the top of a ladder.
Pops was diligently placing fairy lights on one of the old cypress trees at the front entrance to the house, the two trees stood straight and tall, rather like sentries on guard protecting the old house on the hill.
Beneath the ladder sat Diamond and Holly, ears pricked up and suddenly alert to the noise of the children approaching.
The male and female Border Collies followed Pops to the neighbor's farm early in the morning. Pops drove the old Land Rover Discovery to Home farm and collect the fresh meat, fruits and vegetables for Nan to prepare the family's Christmas dinner, he did this every Christmas Eve for as long as Poppy could remember.
The dogs would usually run along with the children to the beach on Christmas Eve morning, Diamond carrying a sturdy stick in his mouth, always ready to play fetch. But this morning's adventure with Pops, promised to be much more rewarding.
"Oh my God, wow!... The Christmas tree!" shouted Poppy, her face lit up with the sheer joy of the moment. Christmas will officially begin when the trees are all dressed, and the lights turned on.
Poppy ran the last few yards to the front garden, moving as fast as her small legs would carry her.
"About time!" Nan shouted, bursting through the front door armed with a rolling pin, and looking dangerously comical in a frilly red apron. "Where have you children been? Tom, just look at the state of you lad, get yourself upstairs and put on some dry clothes. Poppy, sweetheart, come with Nan." Poppy followed Nan obediently into the kitchen.
The classic smell of Christmas permeated the house, freshly baked bread, a whiff of aromatic spices, ginger, cloves and cinnamon merged affecting the senses like a drug. Poppy licked her lips; she could almost taste the ham bubbling away on the solid agar, her stomach rumbled loudly.
The children hadn't eaten since breakfast, and with all the excitement of the rock fall at the beach, they had entirely forgotten about going home for lunch. Poppy was ravenous.
"I can eat a horse between two slices of bread Nan." Exclaimed the girl, her eyes as transparent as a cloudless sky. Nan looked at the little girl, hiding a smiled as she continued to prepare the meal for her family's tea.
The indoor Christmas tree was traditionally decorated by all the family on Christmas Eve. Nan's sister Iris and her children always celebrated Christmas with them, and would arrive late on Christmas Eve night with as much noise and commotion as possible.
Later, Pops would get out the old antique baubles and the small wooden animals he had meticulously and painstakingly carved and painted, for his daughter Mary when she was small.
Mary would sit on her father's knees, eyes wide with wonder as she followed every little movement of Pops large hands. Those fingers were surprisingly nimble, delicately cutting and shaping the wood until it began to take shape as Pops brought it to life. To young Mary, Pops was nothing short of a magician.
Pops often created characters from a fairy-tale he was currently reading to Mary at bedtime, or he'd recreate the likeness of one of Mary's favourite animal, transforming a seemingly simple piece of driftwood into an extraordinary piece of art.
The look of joy and wonder in the child's face on Christmas morning as she opened her present was all the thanks Pops would ever need. But there would only be sixteen characters, one for every Christmas since Mary was born.
At the age of sixteen, Mary broke both her parent's hearts, when she ran away from home pregnant, on the back of her Gypsy lover's motorbike. The young couple headed for London, leaving only a short note for Nan and Pops.
One by one, the carved figures were carefully placed into the roaring flame in the fireplace, and as the last beautifully carved toy burned, a single silent tear ran down Pops wary face and dropped into the blazing fire. The toys were never mentioned again.
Well... that was until the children's first Christmas with Nan and Pops after the death of their parents.
The family had returned home from the traditional pre-Christmas visit to Whitby Abbey, underneath the Christmas tree was the box containing sixteen carved figures. On top of the box was a single dried white rose, the sweet scent of roses pervaded the house.
On a pre-Christmas visit to Whitby Abbey
"Whitby Abbey, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker'sDracular." Explained the young woman, smiling with intrigue as she led the group of tourist around the ruins. "Imagine this place as it would have been in all its Gothic splendor. Close your eyes, can you not hear the soft footsteps of leather-clad feet on stone flooring as the monks calmly go about their daily business? If you listen carefully, you can still hear the echos of chanting and singing as if from a great distance." At this point, the children had had enough.
Tom yanked Poppy's hair, and the little girl shouted. "Tom, stop it." Poppy attempted to get away from her bored brother who promptly pulled her hair again. The little girl gave chase and the visit to the Abbey ended with screams and laughter. Nan did her best to calm the rowdy pair but failed miserably. Nan and Pops decided to go with the flow.
The oldies joined in the fun, making the pre-Christmas visit to the Abbey another beautiful memory for the children. The little family made their way to Whitby Harbour where they pigged out on the world's best fish and chips before heading for home. Poppy would revisit those treasured childhood memories whenever she was feeling down.
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copyright J Alexis-Hagues 04 December 2011
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