A House is
Forever not just for Christmas
L. Barnes 2018
woke with a start. Someone was creeping into her bedroom. Her heart was
thumping in her chest and she could hardly contain her excitement. She was sure
that Father Christmas could hear her, despite desperately trying to keep still.
Why did she have to have such a squeaky bed, any movement would betray the fact
that she was awake. Convinced that if she made any sound, Father Christmas
would rush out without leaving her any presents. She controlled her breathing
as the shape cautiously crept around the room to the foot of the bed.
in the month, she had helped her father put up the lights – greens; whites;
reds and her personal favourite, blues. Draping them across the small tree in the
corner of the cottage, with a special angel on top for her mother. They were
only allowed to put up the decorations after 1st December, so that
was always when Pauline started counting down to the big day. Her father had
taken her to the local toy supermarket where the dazzling and bewildering array
of fantastic toys were beyond her imagination and also beyond her father’s
wallet. They had bought nothing at the till and Pauline’s eyes started welling
up at the lost opportunity. Maybe if they had been to a smaller shop, she could
have picked out something affordable that she really wanted.
door quietly closed behind her welcome intruder, but Pauline waited an age before
she felt comfortable in checking the anticipated gifts. Finally, she had waited
long enough, her curiosity too demanding to leave well alone. She crawled to
the end of her bed and cautiously pulled the stocking onto her blanket,
thinking back to the days before Christmas break, when the children in her
class had talked about all the presents they would be getting for Christmas,
from the latest dolls and their outfits; prams and pushchairs; kitchen sets;
fashionable clothes; shoes; typewriters and even sewing machines.
had kept quiet, in case she revealed that her chances of any meaningful
presents was slim. Her father was a mere carpenter, didn’t earn a lot, and
since the death of his wife, Pauline’s mother, seemed to be in a state of quiet
shock, left without his soul mate and unable to properly console his daughter. Pauline
tried her hardest to cope without her mother who had passed away suddenly, last
Christmas, the worst present ever.
felt the lumps and bumps in the stocking. A most wonderful feeling, desperately
trying to guess the contents. The apple and orange were too obvious, and
disappointing, but then a square box crackling with wrapping paper, held more
promise, as did the strangely shaped, unusual oblong. Something soft and
squishy, promised maybe the cuddly teddy she had seen in the shop. Maybe her
father had snuck back into the shop and selected the one she had coveted.
daren’t switch her light on, as it was far too early to get up, so she tucked
the unopened stocking under the covers, unwilling to let it out of her arms.
felt something pressing into her side, before realising that daytime had
finally arrived and she had turned over onto her wonderful stocking. “Yippee,”
she cried. “Time to get up.”
sat up, opened the curtains and gasped with joy as she watched the snow
tumbling out of the sky, turning everything white. “What a perfect Christmas,
now for my presents.”
opened the end of the stocking and extracted the first package, ripping the
wrapping paper and tossing it to the floor. “Oh, wine gums,” Not the cuddly
bear she had thought. “Maybe the next one would be more exciting,” but she saw
it was only chocolate buttons. The oblong present contained only an oblong box.
Pauline began to realise that maybe this Christmas would be the same as all her
previous years. The apple and orange were placed carefully on her bedside
table. “Only one more,” she said, crossing her fingers as she slowly opened the
plain cardboard box.
laid out carefully, were three miniature dolls. One dressed as her father, one
of herself and the third, a beautiful depiction of her mother. Tears welled up
in her eyes and dribbled down her cheeks. Not only at the memories of her
mother, but also at the thought that her father, and his small income, had
managed to construct such beautiful present. She knew in her heart that her
father played Father Christmas and loved him for the intrigue and pretence.
was time to go down and thank her father, not only for the presents but the
wonderful thought behind them. Miles better than all the expensive,
impersonally built toys from far off factories. She dressed in her best outfit,
well cleanest at any rate, and walked downstairs, smelling the toast and hopefully
a soft-boiled egg for her breakfast.
morning dearest sweetheart,” said her father, giving her a kiss on her
forehead. “Happy Christmas.”
Daddy,” said Pauline, giving him a hug as he leant down to the floor. “Look at
the dolls Father Christmas made for me. They look just like us.”
wonderful,” said her father “Let’s have breakfast and the see if there’s
anything else Father Christmas left under the tree.”
only one, but let’s eat first.”
had never eaten her egg quicker than today, dipping her soldiers into the egg,
spilling bright yellow yolk down the sides of the shell and onto her plate.
Don’t waste it.”
she said, wiping the side with her finger to get the last morsel.
your eyes,” as he led her into the lounge. “Open them.”
gave a shriek as she saw huge present by the tree, “For me?” Maybe this would
be something she could talk about, as she knelt down and slowly undid the brown
paper wrapping. A roof emerged, with all individual tiles marked out, followed
by the outside walls and windows. “A doll’s House!”
any doll’s house,” he said.
it’s our House,” she replied. “How wonderful. But it has no insides and no
are your other presents?”
“Oh upstairs.” She said excitement
building once again. “I’ll get them.” Pauline rushed up the stairs and
collected the box and fruit.
“Right. Now open the front wall of the
house, there’s a small catch.”
Pauline fumbled on the catch with her
trembling fingers and finally opened the door wide. “But there’s nothing
Her father brought another rectangular
box from behind the tree and handed it to Pauline. She was shivering with
delight as she ripped open the package to reveal a perfect Kitchen, just like
theirs, complete with another Mum doll, this time in her pinny.
“Right, now push the kitchen into the
Pauline eased the kitchen in and set
her mother in front of the oven. “Look Dad she’s cooking our supper.”
“So she is,” as he handed her another
Pauline opened this one more carefully
as it rattled slightly, inside was a perfect dining room this time with her
mother laying the table.
A third box appeared as if by magic,
now she had a lounge with her mother sitting in front of the fire, knitting a
tiny blue jumper. “Oh Daddy, this is wonderful thank you so much.”
She unwrapped the fourth box to reveal
a beautiful model of the main bedroom with her mum doing her hair in front of an
“Put that on top of the lounge,”
instructed her dad.
Pauline carefully slotted the bedroom
into the first-floor section, followed by another room her father passed her, made
to look exactly like their bathroom.
“Where’s my bedroom?” queried Pauline.
“That’s the other box you have. I
thought we could decorate that together.”
Finally, he produced a tiny garden
with mum in her gardening clothes, planting flowers.
“Dad this is the most wonderful
Christmas, thank you.”
“We both miss your mother so much and
I thought that if we couldn’t have her with us, we could have her in spirit, in
this house and we can do all the things together, as if she had never left.”
Pauline hugged her father so tightly
to make sure he realised what a wonderful gift he had made for her.
“Now then, how are we going to
decorate your room?”
“I’ll get some things but I think
mother should be reading me a bedtime story.”