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    Ivor Slipper
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Ho! Ho! Ho! - 1. Chapter 1

Ho! Ho! Ho!

 

In the Woodcock household Christmas was a time for tradition. The Christmas tree was put up and decorated on Christmas Eve and the presents were placed under it. They were then opened after Christmas dinner of roast turkey complete with all the trimmings followed by a Christmas pudding, brought to the table, flaming, by Mrs Woodcock – who by that time might also be flaming herself after a fraught morning in the kitchen while her husband sat in his armchair by the fire drinking sherry.

The children, eight year old Trevor, his six year old brother William and his five year old sister Frances, were allowed to help in decorating the tree. However, this usually meant that the decorations they put on were later rearranged by Mrs Woodcock after they had gone to bed. The decorations were also traditional, glass balls, lametta and such like plus electric lights in the shape of candles. Atop the tree sat a fairy and on the branches immediately below her was a Santa Claus plus a couple of candy canes that had been sent to the Woodcocks some years ago by a relation in America.

This year young Trevor desperately wanted a Hornby Dublo electric train set. He knew such a present was far too big to go in the stocking he always hung at the end of his bed, but he also remembered that last year his Mum had told him that Santa would instead leave any presents that were too big to fit in his stocking under the tree. Indeed that had happened then as when the presents had been opened after dinner there had been the model garage he had wanted. So, he had told himself, this year the train set was bound to be under the tree.

And yet as Christmas Eve wore on the doubts began to grow in Trevor’s mind. He went to bed that night with his mind in turmoil and not surprisingly didn’t sleep well. He awoke early and everything was still all dark but he got out his little torch and climbed out of bed, careful not to disturb William. By the light of his torch he could see that Santa had been and filled his stocking, so partly reassured, he then made his way downstairs and into the lounge where stood the Christmas tree its lights shining brightly in the otherwise dark room.

Trevor switched off his torch and crept over to the tree. He could see lots of presents under it and a couple looked to him to perhaps be of the right size to contain a train set. He pulled one out, but was disappointed to find that it bore William’s name. Surely William wasn’t going to get a train set and not him? That would be most unfair of Santa. He put that one to one side and pulled out the other suitably sized one and on doing so was pleased to see this one had his name on it.

But what did it contain? He shook it but no sound could he hear. He simply had to know, but it was very well wrapped up and securely sealed with sticky tape. If he tried to undo it he was bound to make a mess of it and then his parents would know he had looked. And doing that would he knew result in a spanking. He didn’t get spanked very often as he was normally a good boy, but he definitely didn’t enjoy having his short trousers and pants taken down by his father before he was laid across his father’s knee and then his big hand went to work on his little bottom. To have a sore bottom on Christmas Day was not a good idea Trevor decided. Perhaps he would have to wait and hope after all.

Then as he went to put the parcel back where he had found it he spotted that on the back it had not been taped as well as on the front. There was a little gap and if he stuck his fingers in it he reckoned he could widen it a bit so he could shine his torch in and see what was written on the box. Just as he started to insert his fingers he felt a tap on his shoulder. He jumped in alarm – he hadn’t heard his father come into the room but now he had been discovered. He looked up, but standing there was not his father but a fairy dressed just like the one on top of the tree in a shimmering gold dress with long blonde hair down her back and gold shoes on her feet. She had touched him with her wand that held the Christmas star aloft.

Naughty Trevor!” she said. “You know you must not look to see what Father Christmas has brought you. Your present will now have to go back to Santa’s grotto. I will arrange for the elves to collect it.”

Trevor was distraught – even though he didn't know that word. The idea of his present going back, especially if it was his train set, was too hard to take. He felt himself close to tears. But perhaps there was still hope, he had to try.

But please kind fairy, I didn’t actually see the present. I still don’t know what it is, so do the elves have to take it back?”

The fairy thought for a moment before speaking again.

Mmm… that sounds like a question Father Christmas himself will have to decide. Hocus, Pocus, Lokus, Jokus.”

Trevor didn’t have the faintest idea what those last words meant but suddenly standing alongside the fairy was Santa Claus and when Trevor looked up he saw neither the fairy nor Santa was now on the tree.

Thank goodness you remembered not to include ‘Sokus’, said Santa Claus, “It took me ages to dry out the last time you did that.”

What about me then?” responded the fairy? “I had far less on than you had. Soaked to the skin took on a whole new meaning! And my wand went all limp!”

Yours wasn’t the only one,” said Santa with a strange chuckle in his voice.

Then the fairy and Father Christmas started talking to one another in a language Trevor didn’t understand at all, but finally the fairy turned to Trevor and said,

Father Christmas has decided that you can keep the present, but to do so you will have to pay a penalty.”

On hearing the first part of the sentence Trevor had been delighted, but his delight turned to worry on hearing the second.

What will the penalty be?” he asked in a shaky voice.

You will have to trust Father Christmas and believe in him.” replied the fairy.

Trevor thought it over. He did believe in Father Christmas and he decided that he did trust him.

I’ll take the penalty.”

Ho! Ho! Ho!” said Father Christmas with a big twinkle in his eye.

Hocus, Pokus, Lokus, Jokus” said the fairy and when Trevor looked Father Christmas now held in his right hand a candy cane, but this was not like the ones on the tree – it was much longer but not as thick, although still brightly coloured. He then looked up at the tree and sure enough one of the two canes was no longer in its rightful place.

Now Trevor, you need to undo your pyjama trousers, take them off and then bend over and touch your toes. Father Christmas is going to cane you.”

Ho! Ho! Ho!” said Father Christmas with an even bigger twinkle in his eye.

Trevor had heard about canes at his school. He knew sometimes some of the older boys got caned if they were very naughty and he knew it hurt. But he’d said he was going to take the penalty; he couldn’t change his mind now – could he?

His fingers fumbled with the cord around the waist of his pyjama trousers. He felt tears pricking his eyes, but he didn’t want to cry – not in front of Father Christmas and a fairy! Eventually he managed to undo the knot and his pyjama bottoms slid to the floor. He stepped out of them and suddenly his legs felt very cold. He went to bend over and as he did he saw a little snowman on one of the bottom branches of the tree. The snowman smiled at him and said,

Remember the spell – all of it.”

Trevor bent over and touched his toes. He felt his pyjama jacket being lifted and slid over his back towards his shoulders. Now his bottom felt cold too and he shivered. He could feel the goose bumps all down both his legs.

Ho! Ho! Ho!” he heard Father Christmas say.

In his new position bent over Trevor couldn’t see, but he thought he could just feel something very lightly tap his bottom. As it did he realised what the snowman had meant.

Hocus, Pokus, Locus, Jokus, Sokus.” he exclaimed.

Immediately he did so he felt a wetness on his face. At the same time he heard the fairy say, “My wands gone all limp!”

Donner und Blitzen - and so has my cane!” added Santa, along with a couple of other very unSanta like phrases.

And then he realised that the family's pet yellow Labrador 'Honey' had got into the bedroom and was licking his face like mad. The next moment he heard his mother telling 'Honey' to behave herself and get off the bed. Then he felt himself being shaken and heard his mother’s voice saying, “Happy Christmas Trevor! It's a white Christmas as it's been snowing. You and William will be able to build a snowman later!”

Trevor smiled happily; he'd never known a white Christmas, but today he was definitely going to build the best snowman ever.

Come on, rise and shine” said his mother as she pulled back his eiderdown and sheets, before exclaiming, “Why on earth have you taken off your pyjama trousers?”

 

++++++++

Copyright © 2018 Ivor Slipper; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

This brings back memories of those magical childhood Christmas's, it makes you all warm and fuzzy.

Edited by Mancunian
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“Why on earth have you taken off your pyjama trousers?”

Eight years old is a little young to have discovered that!  ;–)

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1950s UK would have still been suffering through rationing, right? Did that affect consumer goods (like trains) as well as food? My impression is that ‘50s England wasn’t affluent like the US was at the time either, having even up their colonies and rebuilding after the war…

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My mother always referred to the non-strung strips of shiny stuff as tinsel. She would force us to hang individual strips on the tree one at a time. Because we were poor, the strips were collected off the tree for use the following year.

 

When I was growing up, we used to get the least expensive Douglas Fir available. When my mother started working in the late ‘70s there was more disposable income and we started to buy the much more expensive Noble Firs which had bigger gaps between layers of branches. Those spaces allowed ornaments to be more visible. We also shifted away from either the kid-safe styrofoam balls covered with shiny thread and the glass ball ornaments they tried to emulate to home-made or more rustic forms of ornaments (ie Northern European wooden or straw ornaments). For a while bread-dough ornaments were popular, but we threw them all away when bugs got into them while they’d been stored between seasons!

 

There are a lot more memories with the home-made ornaments than there were with commercial glass balls.  ;–)

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2 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

Probably/possibly 'lametta' is a trade name for what s generally called tinsel. But, yes I recall collecting up those which weren't too deformed to use the following year.

The New Oxford American Dictionary definition of ‘tinsel’ differs from the definition in the Oxford Dictionary of English. What is unusual was that the definition didn’t have any reference to ‘chiefly American’ or ‘British’ as it does for other words with definitions that are dissimilar. Most commonly the entry is identical for both dictionaries. This suggests to me that there is slight difference in meaning between the two major variants of the language.  ;–)

 

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page for ’Tinsel’ seems to have been primarily written by a Brit because, like the Oxford Dictionary of English, it defines the unthreaded strands as lametta (Apple’s US spellcheck doesn’t like the word).  ;–)

 

I don’t know what material our tinsel was made out of, but it seemed to be plastic-based. It was very light and bent easily. It is likely that my mother bought her tinsel in the ‘60s. Apparently lead foil tinsel was available through the ‘60s in the US, but the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) pushed a voluntary end to production and importation after Jan 1, 1972.

 

I was born in California and have only lived here and in Hawaii. My parents were both also born in California, but they met in Chicago. I’m guessing the tinsel reminded her of the ice and snow on the trees. Even as we were enjoying temperatures well above freezing!  ;–)

 

2 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

I suspect most people had ornaments that had been handed down or were hand made. I seem to remember some that were knitted.

Aside from the ones we made, my favorite Aunt made others that I still have. We had a crocheted wreath and a pair of crocheted mittens that she made. Back in the ‘80s, it was trendy to make reindeer out of clothes pins. Our tree also had felt animals and origami ornaments that I made. I see many of the same ones on my Aunt’s tree every year.  ;–)

 

When I was working, I used to give my coworkers ornaments that I made. Some years I made a dozen or more ornaments. I always enjoyed seeing them on their trees when I’d visit. Most of my coworkers only got one or two, but a few people I worked with for many years had a lot more!  ;–)

 

When I worked at Target, they had these flyers soliciting seasonal jobs at the store. There were stacks of them in Target red and white. We were supposed to be stuffing them into the bags, but most of us had stopped doing that. So in between customers, I’d fold & trim the rectangle into a square and fold cranes. They’d magically appear on the tree in the break room, a few at a time!  ;–)

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2 hours ago, Headstall said:

Wonderful little tale, Ivor. I was greatly amused... thank you for that. :)  Cheers... Gary....

 

Thanks, Gary - appreciate the comment.

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11 hours ago, droughtquake said:

The New Oxford American Dictionary definition of ‘tinsel’ differs from the definition in the Oxford Dictionary of English. What is unusual was that the definition didn’t have any reference to ‘chiefly American’ or ‘British’ as it does for other words with definitions that are dissimilar. Most commonly the entry is identical for both dictionaries. This suggests to me that there is slight difference in meaning between the two major variants of the language.  ;–)

 

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page for ’Tinsel’ seems to have been primarily written by a Brit because, like the Oxford Dictionary of English, it defines the unthreaded strands as lametta (Apple’s US spellcheck doesn’t like the word).  ;–)

 

I don’t know what material our tinsel was made out of, but it seemed to be plastic-based. It was very light and bent easily. It is likely that my mother bought her tinsel in the ‘60s. Apparently lead foil tinsel was available through the ‘60s in the US, but the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) pushed a voluntary end to production and importation after Jan 1, 1972.

 

I was born in California and have only lived here and in Hawaii. My parents were both also born in California, but they met in Chicago. I’m guessing the tinsel reminded her of the ice and snow on the trees. Even as we were enjoying temperatures well above freezing!  ;–)

 

Aside from the ones we made, my favorite Aunt made others that I still have. We had a crocheted wreath and a pair of crocheted mittens that she made. Back in the ‘80s, it was trendy to make reindeer out of clothes pins. Our tree also had felt animals and origami ornaments that I made. I see many of the same ones on my Aunt’s tree every year.  ;–)

 

When I was working, I used to give my coworkers ornaments that I made. Some years I made a dozen or more ornaments. I always enjoyed seeing them on their trees when I’d visit. Most of my coworkers only got one or two, but a few people I worked with for many years had a lot more!  ;–)

 

When I worked at Target, they had these flyers soliciting seasonal jobs at the store. There were stacks of them in Target red and white. We were supposed to be stuffing them into the bags, but most of us had stopped doing that. So in between customers, I’d fold & trim the rectangle into a square and fold cranes. They’d magically appear on the tree in the break room, a few at a time!  ;–)

 

I suspect lametta was very thin aluminum foil, but not certain. For me that word only applies to those strips. We did have other types of multi colored shiny lengths in varying widths which could be twisted to reflect better, which again I'd think were made from aluminum. Am unsure if we called these tinsel or just referred to them as tree decorations.

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Thank you! What a happy story to read.

 

I notice that it is marked "in progress". Will there be more chapters to come? (No pun intended.)

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2 hours ago, silentreader3 said:

Thank you! What a happy story to read.

 

I notice that it is marked "in progress". Will there be more chapters to come? (No pun intended.)

 

Thank you. Pleased to know that you enjoyed it.

 

The 'In Progress' was an oversight which I should go back and correct - unless I leave it open until next Christmas 😊

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3 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

 

Thank you. Pleased to know that you enjoyed it.

 

The 'In Progress' was an oversight which I should go back and correct - unless I leave it open until next Christmas 😊

Oh !  :(

 

Well, to be honest, it felt like that was the natural conclusion of the story. Then again, I'd enjoy reading more, even if it means being patient for a year!  Thank you for sharing your work with us all.

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Interesting how some things were similar while others differed.  Our tree went up the weekend before Christmas, always one bought from a tree farm, and decorated the same day.  Usually we had the old-style colored lights with large bulbs, and if one went out the whole string had to be tested, and you hooped you had the color bulb to match that one.  Yep tinsel too, shiny and droopy but we put it on in small clumps and it got tossed every year as it was tangled no matter how careful we tried.  Ornaments were colored glass in various shapes, some with indented sections with a scene painted in it to contrast with the main color, and others were one color or patterned.  It took me years to find a couple boxes of late 50s ones to go on my tree.  Our topper was a star, and we hung velour stockings on our fireplace too.

I remember my first train set, a larger gauge with two plastic tunnels and a big loop of track with a black transformer to run it.  I have a pic (black and white of course) of me playing with it while in my white undies the day I got it.  The next year I think I got a slot-car racing set.  Then the Hot Wheels hit and I got orange track and several cars.  My friend down the street got some too, and we'd set it up in his living room and race for ages.

Only thing that came close to those was my birthday present in '66 of a red Schwinn bike with chrome fenders and a chrome headlight!  That pic is in my Gallery.

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