Puppy’s first Christmas

Clara is a puppy who is excited for her first Christmas. She wants to know why we celebrate, and what everyone loves most about it.

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.

“Hmph.”

“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?”

“Yes?”

“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.

‘Chomp!’

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?”
“Of course.”
“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.”


Clara smiled. 


“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. 

“Ow.”

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.

The end

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. ❤

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Christmas memory baubles

It was 7 days until Christmas, and Leila was extremely excited. She loved Christmas. She loved the presents, she loved the crafts, but most of all she loved having all of her family together and eating too much.


Leila’s Mummy and Daddy had put up the Christmas tree, and Leila and Mummy were making some more decorations for it. They had already made some paper snowflakes and painted some wooden cutouts of the Nativity scene. Now they were working on baubles. These were no ordinary baubles though: they had little photos of their family members inside them. Mummy was cutting out the photographs and Leila was adding decorations like small sparkly stars and glitter, to make them look snowy. It was quite messy.


“Oops!” Leila cried as a pile of glitter landed on the floor. “Sorry Mummy.”


“Oh dear, not again.” Sighed Mummy, reaching for the dust pan and brush for the third time that morning.


“Glitter is quite messy, isn’t it?” Mummy asked.


“Definitely.” Agreed Leila.


Leila was filling up a bauble with a picture of her Gran and Grandad in it. They had big smiles. She put in extra glitter because she loved them very much.


“Mummy, I wish that Arlo could be with us this Christmas.” She said.


“Me too!” Agreed Mummy, reaching over to give Leila a hug.


“I really miss him.” 


“So do Daddy and I. We think about him every day.” Replied Mummy.


“How old would Arlo be now, of he was still alive?” Asked Leila.


“He would be 2 now. Just imagine, he would be getting his fingers in the glitter, and pulling the baubles off the tree!” Answered Mummy.


“Yeah, I think that he would be very cute, but also a mischief.”


“I think so too.” Agreed Mummy.

“Look, here is a photo of you holding Arlo when he was very little. Shall we make this into a special memory bauble?”


“Yes please. I think that it will be the best bauble ever.” Said Leila.


They had some tiny heart stickers, which Leila added to the outside of the bauble to show that it was an extra special one.


When it was finished, Leila held the bauble in her hand and smiled. 


“It’s beautiful.” Said Mummy.
“Sometimes I feel sad when I think that Arlo is missing out on Christmas.” Admitted Leila.


“Me too darling. But we will always remember him and always love him, won’t we? Do you remember that time that he weed all over Daddy when he changed his nappy?” 


“Oh yes, that was hilarious!” Laughed Leila.


Mummy and Leila hung all of the baubles onto the Christmas tree. They all looked good, but the one of Leila and her little brother was especially lovely. A ray of sunshine came in through the window and made it sparkle.
Mummy and Leila looked at each other and smiled. 


“It’s like he’s saying hello.”

Christmas can be a difficult time for bereaved people. If you have been affected by baby or child loss, here are some places that offer support.

https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/family-life/bereavement-support

https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org

https://www.sands.org.uk

The night before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house

No laptop was whirring, nor a computer mouse.

The children were tucked up in their warm cosy beds

While dreams of tablets and scooters danced round their heads.

Mum and Dad watched a box set, on sofa sat

with hot chocolate, popcorn and Toby the cat.

 

A glass of milk and ginger biscuits on a plate

For a special guest on coffee table did wait.

“Let’s go to bed,” Mum said yawning, “it’s getting late.”

“Soon a visitor will be opening the gate.”

“Yes,” agreed Dad, “I have wrapped all of our gifts,

I’m glad my boss hasn’t got me working night shift.”

 

When the family were finally fast asleep,

In the garden landed reindeer without a peep.

And out from the sleigh that they magically lead,

stepped Father Christmas, dressed in white and red.

“Reindeer, wait here. I have some gifts to deliver.”

“I’ll be back soon. I see the snow makes you shiver.”

Then the jolly old man took out his magic key

and unlocked the front door slowly and quietly.

 

He was just putting our presents under the tree

When he looked up with a smile and spotted me!

I had heard a noise and crept slowly down the stair

And could hardly believe who I saw standing there.

 

“Sorry!” I gasped. “I didn’t know you were real.”

“I am!” He chuckled. “Will you join me in my meal?”

So we sat on the sofa and enjoyed our snack

While Toby purred happily on Santa’s lap.

“What’s it like, travelling round the world,” I asked

“each Christmas eve, it must be a difficult task?”

“I love seeing all of the countries,” he replied,

like Poland, Botswana, Japan and Paraguay.

People live in interesting homes, that’s for sure,

In tents, wooden huts, caves and on the sea shore.

All children are unique in such different ways

But with a love of toys and play, they’re all the same.”

 

I ate my crunchy biscuit and answered “Say,

I’ve never thought of it before in that way.

The other children might not look or talk like me,

But we all need fun, and the love of our family.”

 

 

“I must be going,” he said, “I have elf-made toys

To deliver to many little girls and boys.”

 

I looked out of the window to see the sleigh

With reindeers and Father Christmas, flying away.

I heard his happy call as he flew out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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YBCN (UK)

I have been part of the Younger Breast Cancer Network (UK) group for a few months. It’s a hidden group where any (verified) members can go to ask questions, have a moan or share good news.

I have found it very helpful, just knowing that there are some ladies out there in similar circumstances to myself, that I can talk to whenever I need an understanding ear. They are full of good advice. It also helps to see that there are other young women and mums out there- it can feel quite isolating when you are the only person under the age of 50 in a cancer clinic.

Due to the type of group that it is, there is obviously some sadness and pain. But there are happy stories and friendship too. For Christmas, they asked for silly photos of people in Christmas hats or dos for ‘Christmas chemo head’. I enjoyed making my hat and taking part – it’s just a good community.

Christmas chemo head Alex

A tale of two pigs

A tale of two pigs story drawing 3 1 2016Once upon a time, there lived two pigs who were neighbours in a village called Muddsville. They were called Percy and Pansy. Percy loved Christmas, and spent all year planning everything: what the starter, main and dessert would be; what games to get everyone to play; and the perfect present for everyone. Everything had to be just so.

Pansy also loved Christmas but she took a more laid-back approach. She loved hosting for friends and family on the special day, oh yes. And she spent quite a lot on food and drink, oh yes. But she realised that Christmas Day would never be perfect, simply because no day could ever be perfect. And nobody is perfect either.

Percy spend most of Christmas Eve night double- and triple- checking that all the food was just right. He re-wrapped a few presents that were just a little untidy. He swept all of the floors while his family slept. He had a restless night, worrying over details, and woke up bleary-eyed and headachey in Christmas Day. When his three little piglets ran into his room first thing, he asked his wife to get him some painkillers and a very strong cup of tea. It was going to be a long day. His kids loved their presents, but he worried that they were making too much mess with the wrapping paper and bows.

‘I supposed I should sweep the floors just one more time before everyone arrives,’ he thought to himself with a sigh.

Pansy woke up with her two little piglets jumping in her bed to give her a cuddle. They opened their stockings, and she let them eat all of the sweets and chocolate that they liked. She hugged them hard, realising that soon they wouldn’t be so little, and there weren’t many Christmasses left when they would want to wake her early for a hug. Her family had a lazy breaskfast of toast and jam while watching ‘Stick man’ on telly. She suddenly realised that guests would be arriving soon, but there was always time for a nice soak in the bath first.

Percy’s family and friends had a very good Christmas. The food was delicious and the expensive presents were much appreciated. But Percy felt sad. His Christmas was not perfect. Great Aunt Pollyanna fell asleep during charades and knocked over an expensive bottle of wine. Percy spent ages cleaning the floor. Baby Poppy cried when her parents opened the doll that Percy had spent ages trawling the shops for. Why couldn’t she be more grateful? Grandad Pig drank too much ale and made a fool of himself. Percy went to bed early that night. Where had it all gone wrong? Next year he would just have to try harder.

Pansy left the turkey in the oven too long, so everyone had to have extra potatoes. Uncle Peter accidently opened one of Aunt Petunia’s gifts, and insisted on wearing her frilly pink housecoat for the rest of the day. Two of the cousins fell out over a cracker and had to have a time-out.

When all the guests had gone home that evening, Pansy sat down with her husband on the messy sofa and yawned.

“How do you think that went?” He asked.

“Well… just about perfect,” she smiled. “Now let’s get to bed. The cleaning can wait ’til tomorrow.”

 

 

 

 

More Christmas crafts

Our new Christmas tree is up! And it just about fits in the house.

The angel is made from loo roll, felt and cardboard. The elf is from a kit from Hobbycraft.

The cardboard Christmas tree has felt and cardboard home-made decorations, with velcro at the back so that they can be easily moved around on the tree.

I enjoyed making the Nativity scene with the kids. There was an incident where my daughter decapitated baby Jesus, but I soon fixed him and we have agreed not to speak of it again.

 

Christmas felt crafts

It’s Christmas next month, so it must be time to get out the craft materials.

I made these cute penguin and reindeer finger puppets with a set from Prima Christmas Makes magazine.

Great for stocking fillers or they could easily be turned into Christmas tree decorations with the addition of a bit of ribbon.

Craft kit with Prima magazine.

Penguin and reindeer finger puppets.

I decided to give them hearts. 🙂

Good for stocking fillers.

My daughter has been asking for a nappy for her doll for a while now. The poor thing was naked (the doll, not my daughter). So I made her a nappy, using buttons for fasteners as I don’t have any velcro.

Nappy for doll.

Baby wears nappy

After that, I thought that doll still looked a little underdressed, so made her a raincoat. It’s not waterproof, but looks the part. Now she needs some wellies.

Doll wearing raincoat

A different Christmas

“Dinner everyone!” Shouted Mum.

The family rushed to the table. It looked delicious – turkey, roast potatoes, loads of veg, gravy, Yorkshire puds. A small fir tree in a cheerful red bucket  and topped by a gold star served as the centrepiece.

“This looks fab!” Smiled Dad as he carved the turkey.

“I helped with the potatoes.” Piped up Daisy as she filled her plate with veg.

“I set the table.” Announced Thomas, pouring himself some fizzy drink.

“Thank you Lord for this meal and our family.” Prayed Grandma.

The Christmas tree in the corner of the room twinkled with fairy lights, and was surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts.

“When do we get to open our presents?” Asked Thomas, eyeing up a schooter- shaped one.

“I told you already,” Laughed Mum, “After dinner and the Queen’s speech.”

“Ok.” Sighed Thomas.

“These potatoes are excellent,” said Dad, “They taste almost like the ones I used to have when I was a kid.”

“Thanks,” replied Mum, “The food techies are getting better and better at the flavours, don’t you think? You’d almost think that this turkey once ran around in a farmyard.”

Dad laughed.

“Mum, did people really used to eat food that grew from the ground?” Asked Daisy.

“Yes. Well, things like fruit and veg did. Some of them from trees, too.”

“Trees used to grow actual food?” Wondered Thomas.

“Oh yes,” said Grandma, “I used to grow apples (from trees) and potatoes (under the soil) in my back garden.”

“Wow.” Both kids were silent for a moment as they processed this.

“But this ain’t bad.” Smiled Dad as he munched on a parsnip. “The butter could almost have come from a cow.”

“Those were the days, eh?” Reminisced Mum.

After dinner, the family sat in front of the telly wall to watch the Queen’s speech. She almost looked human, in the right light. The eyes gave her away though – you could always spot the cyborgs from the glint in their eyes.

Thomas peered out the window at the sky full of stars. One day, they would hopefully find a planet of their own again, like his parents used to have.

The Stairgate

I visited the Stairgate, a parents’ and toddlers’ group, recently. It takes place upstairs in the Gate, a second-hand book, toy and furniture shop in Swindon town centre, on Thursday mornings from 10:30-12 (term time only).
There is a fenced area for the little people (under 4s) to play in, with a good selection of toys (my daughter Bethany loved the ride-on car); while the parents can rest on the comfy sofas with a (free) cup of tea or coffee, kindly provided by the friendly volunteers.
There is free play time, followed by crafts; a snack (usually healthy I’m told, although Bethany enjoyed the choc-chip cookie when we went); and then story and song time. All through December the crafts are Christmas related. I hear that there will be a special visitor from the North Pole on 18th December.
I felt welcomed during my visit, and there is a multicultural fix of families who attend, including British, Spanish, Portuguese and Hungarian.
There is a suggested donation of £1.
And if you have any good-quality toys that your kids have outgrown, I know that they will welcome your donations for the shop, especially at this time of year.

On three Saturdays in December (6, 13 and 20), there will be special The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe themed live performances in the large window downstairs (all welcome to visit); with a Christian message.
The Gate is run by Dawn Prosser of Gateway Church Swindon, who also heads up the Gateway Furniture Project. For more info, contact:
furniture@gcswindon.org.uk