Clara was a puppy. She lived with her Mummy and twin brother Rudy and their humans, Norah and Jasper. Clara was excited because it was Christmas soon. Clara wasn’t sure exactly what Christmas was, but by the sound of it, it involved lots of food, baubles to chew, and extra cuddles with their humans. It sounded amazing!
But today, Clara and Rudy were in the dog house. Apparently, trying to climb up the Christmas tree to eat the baubles was ‘incredibly naughty’.
The puppies had been told ‘no more treats today’. This made Clara sad. Her tummy was rumbling, and it was ages until dinner time.
“It’s not fair,” moaned Rudy, “I just wanted to eat that shiny star at the top of the tree. I love baubles.”
“Well, I wish that I hadn’t followed you. It was all your idea, and now I am in trouble too,” huffed Clara.
“You didn’t have to follow me up the tree!” Replied Rudy.
“I know that, but you called me a coward!” Said Clara.
“Stop arguing, puppies,” said Mum, “I am trying to have a nap.”
Clara walked to the back door and stared out at the garden. It was raining. Her tummy rumbled again. She sighed.
The next day, Clara tried to be well behaved, to please her humans. It was tricky. She really wanted to climb that tree and eat some more baubles. Sometimes it was hard being a puppy.
Jasper took her, Rudy and Mummy out for a walk to the park. Norah was wrapping presents, and apparently didn’t need their help, which was a shame. Clara loved the park: they could run around and meet other dogs. There were so many smells: grass, dogs, squirrels, poo. Jasper let them off the lead, and Rudy ran to smell a lamppost. Clara saw a friend, an old English sheepdog called Bert, and went to smell him. Then she licked his face.
“Bert, you are old and have had many Christmases,” said Clara, “what do you love most at Christmas?”
“Well,” replied Bert, “I love many things, but I suppose that my favourite is having my humans around, all of the kids come and visit over the holidays.”
Bert’s humans were grandparents, and had their whole family round on Christmas Day.
“Oh,” said Clara. “I don’t know what I will love most, because this will be my first Christmas. It might be pigs in blankets. Bert?”
“Why do we have Christmas?” Asked the puppy.
“Well, many years ago there was a baby born in Bethlehem. He was a special baby: he was called Jesus, the son of God.”
“The son of God? That sounds important. Why was he born?”
“To give hope to all people. He told everyone about God, and how much he loves them. In fact, Jesus died for our humans.”
“Oh. Does Jesus love dogs too?”
“Oh yes,” he loves everyone.”
Bert and his human walked away, and Clara went to chase Rudy around a tree.
When they got back home, Norah had hidden all of the presents: Clara had been hoping to have a peek. She was tired after her walk, so curled up next to Mummy and fell asleep. She dreamed of dancing pigs wearing tinsel.
It was Christmas Eve. Clara was so excited that she struggled to fall asleep. She closed her eyes and then thought of all the food and presents that she would get the next day, and jumped up, wide awake again. Rudy kept asking Mummy silly questions like how much food they would be able to eat, and whether it was allowed for puppies to climb trees and eat baubles on Christmas Day. Finally, after Mummy told her and Rudy a bedtime story called ‘The night before Christmas’, she nodded off.
Clara suddenly jolted awake. She looked around, sniffing the air. What had woken her? She climbed gently out of bed so as not to wake her mum or brother. There! What was that sound? It sounded like… like… bells! Little bells jingling. She looked out at the back garden, but couldn’t see anything. Then she heard something from the living room. Very quietly, she pawed the kitchen door open. She popped her nose through the gap, sniffing hard. There was a new smell: similar to her humans’. Was there a burglar come to steal all of their Christmas presents? She would teach them a lesson! She would bite them hard on the bottom.
Clara crept on tip-paws over the living room carpet. There, a fat man was standing by the Christmas tree! She would sneak up and bite him on his bottom before he even realised that she was there.
Clara took a small bite of the man’s red trouser bottoms.
“Yowch!” He shouted, jumping a couple of feet in the air.
He turned around. He had a big white beard and bright blue eyes. His hat was red… hang on, he looked familiar.
“Oh no!” Barked Clara, “are you Father Christmas?”
“Ho ho, yes I am, young puppy. You have extremely sharp teeth.”
“I am so sorry, I thought that you were stealing our presents. Please don’t put me on the naughty list?”
“Well, seeing as you were just trying to protect your home, I will let you off.” Father Christmas smiled.
“Yes, Mr Christmas. I promise to be a good puppy from now on. Please don’t tell Mummy that I bit you on the bottom?”
He patted Clara gently on the head.
“Ok, I won’t.”
Clara noticed another smell and looked behind Santa: there was a small puppy, looking scared.
“Oh, Clara meet my newest pet, I just found her today. I was delivering over Finland when I noticed a little black nose sticking up out of a snowdrift. I flew in for a closer look, and found her, freezing cold. I put her in my coat to warm her up. Her name is Estella.”
The tiny puppy looked at Clara wide-eyed. Her brown fur looked like it needed a brush.
“Hello Estella, my name is Clara. Would you like a treat?”
She nodded her head.
Clara gave her a puppy treat from her Christmas stocking that was hanging over the fireplace.
“I probably shouldn’t be looking in here, but my humans would understand.”
She ate it up quickly, “thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” smiled Clara.
“Father Christmas, could I ask you a question?”
“What do you love most about Christmas?” Asked Clara.
“Oh, that’s a good question. Let me see… well I love the snow; I love my big Christmas dinner that Mother Christmas makes me after I have delivered all of the gifts; but most of all I love making sure that everyone has a gift that they can treasure. Sometimes it is something small, but it brings them great joy.”
“Now, help me to put your family’s presents under the tree, please?” He asked.
Clara helped him to arrange them all neatly under the tree: Norah’s, Jasper’s, Mummy’s, hers and Rudy’s. She started sniffing her gift, but stopped when Santa looked at her.
“Could I open mine now please?”
“Ho ho, no young Clara,” laughed the plump old man, “you have to wait until the morning, like all of the other people and pets. Now, I must get on, it’s a busy night for me, you know.”
“OK, bye bye Father Christmas! Thank you for our presents. Goodbye Estella!”
“You’re welcome. Goodnight.” He popped the tiny dog into his front coat pocket.
“Bye bye,” whispered Estella sleepily.
“Goodnight, safe journey! Sorry about your trousers.”
Santa turned around and headed back up the chimney. Clara noticed that he was wearing snowman pants underneath his red trousers.
She went back to bed, giving her present one more quick sniff on the way past.
“It’s Christmas!” Rudy was panting in her face.
“Get off!” Clara laughed, pushing him off her.
Rudy started running around the kitchen in circles, chasing his tail and then biting it.
Clara stretched and smelled the air. It smelled like turkey, roast potatoes and joy.
“Good morning puppies,” grinned Norah.
She was putting something delicious-smelling in the oven.
Rudy and Clara went to her for pats and cuddles, licking her hands happily.
“Where’s Mummy?” Clara asked Rudy.
“She is in the living room, let’s go see what Father Christmas brought us!” Replied her brother.
Clara remembered what had happened the night before, and smiled to herself as she followed Rudy out of the kitchen.
Jasper was handing Rudy his Christmas present – Clara recognised it as one that Father Christmas had brought.
“This must be from Norah,” Jasper said, “I don’t remember it.”
Rudy jumped in excitement and tore at the wrapping with his teeth. It was a squirrel squeaky chew toy. He threw it up in the air and caught it, tail wagging.
“And here is one for you, Clara,” said Jasper.
It was also one from Santa. She opened it – a snuffle mat with small treats hidden in it. Wonderful!
Mummy opened her present: it was a cosy red blanket.
“Let’s save your other gifts until after dinner, shall we?” Suggested Jasper.
Clara didn’t think that was a great idea, but she could be patient.
Jasper started cutting up vegetables and stirring things in big pots on the stove, so Norah took them for a walk. The frost on the grass was cold under her paws and looked like icing sugar, sparkling in the winter sunshine. All the humans were wishing each other “Merry Christmas” and they saw Bert again, wearing a fluffy red and white hat. They had a lovely walk but were in a hurry to get home, ready for Christmas dinner.
After a delicious meal of turkey, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, honey parsnips and carrots, the family were snoozing in front of the fire. They would open presents after the Queen’s speech.
“Mummy, what do you love best about Christmas?” Asked Clara.
“The thing that I love most about Christmas is seeing your and Rudy’s happy faces and wagging tails. And also the food,” Mummy smiled.
Clara thought that she loved everything about Christmas.
What do you love most about Christmas? Can you draw it? Have you written to Father Christmas yet this year?
For more literacy resources and stories for kids, please go to https://literacytrust.org.uk/
This story is dedicated to my labrador puppy. It will be her first Christmas this year. ❤