A glass of milk and a warm mince pie
‘What’s this for granddad?’ Oliver asked, pointing to the plane lying on the bench in the shed that Derek Stokes used as his workshop.
‘It’s called a plane. It’s a woodworking tool that I use for taking the rough bark off a piece of wood.’
‘Can I have a go?’
‘No lad, not until you’re a bit older and a lot bigger. But I’ll show you how it works so that when you’re twelve or something like that, you’ll know what to do.’
Irene smiled as she watched and listened to her two favourite men. Although there was sixty years difference in their ages, they got on like a proverbial house on fire. She often laughed as she listened to their conversation, sometimes it was like two twelve year olds, particularly when they argued. She was still shaking her head when she heard Gillian open the front door.
‘It’s only me,’ her daughter called. ‘I’m sorry, I had to stay for a meeting which went on and on.’
‘That’s OK, will you have supper with us? There’s plenty to go around’
‘Oh thanks Mum, that would be great. I don’t think I could face cooking when we get home.’
‘Will we be going to Grandma’s at Christmas?’
‘I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it. They may not want us,’ Gillian replied, hoping that she could dissuade Oliver from discussing the subject.
‘I bet they will, in fact I heard granddad say it would be good if we could all be together.’
‘He just wants to play with your games. I heard a whisper that Father Christmas might be bringing you the Gran Turismo series; that’s five separate games.’ She glanced down at him but he merely shrugged. ‘I thought you liked those motor racing games?’
‘They’re OK but I’d rather we could all be together.’
‘Oliver, that is most ungrateful. Those games will cost over three hundred pounds. That’s a lot of money out of a captain’s pay.’ Her retort was sharply delivered and they drove the rest of the way home in silence.
‘I’m sorry I shouted, in the car,’ Gillian said to her son, when she went into his room to say goodnight.
‘It’s alright,’ he paused. ‘I do quite like those games.’
‘Well, you better write to Santa and tell him, just to make sure he knows.’
‘I don’t believe in him. He only exists in big shops and on Christmas cards. The boys at school said...’
‘Don’t believe in Santa? Not going to write to him? I think you’d be making a big mistake. Anyway it’s time to turn out the light. Good night Ollie.’
‘Night mum,’ he said, after she had gently kissed his cheek.
‘Granddad, does Santa Claus really exist?’
After not too much thought, Derek replied. ‘I guess he does Ollie. Someone must organize all those presents for children at Christmas time.’ Then he added. ’Come and give me a hand with this job please.’
Oliver thought about Santa and his annual letter, for the next two days. In the end, he decided to give it one last go, but rather than post it at the shopping mall or give it to his mother, he sent it to his father at the BFPO number that was on the top of the letters which came from Iraq. About a week after his grandma had posted it for him, he had forgotten all about it. After all there were lots of things to concentrate on, coming seasonal events and the box he and his granddad were making for his mother to keep all her shoes in.
It was the twentieth of December when Oliver sang a solo in the school’s Christmas concert. Gillian and her parents were in the audience and they had never heard him sing so well. Together with other parents, they were in tears when the First Noel ended, as was a man at the back of the hall. He had managed to slip in through the door just as Oliver arose on stage. He stood to attention, in full dress uniform, his cap gripped by his elbow and tears streamed down his face and cascaded on to his medals. The audience was still moved when the choir sang the final chorus of I Believe in Father Christmas, when Oliver’s voice could be heard above all the other boy sopranos.
BIO - Roger Noons began writing in 2006, when he completed a screenplay, for a friend who is an amateur film maker. After the film was made, he wrote further scripts, then began short stories and poems. He occasionally produces non fiction, particularly memoirs from his long career in Environmental Health.