Charlie bounded towards the kitchen table, grabbed his letter to Santa and sprinted to the front door. “I can’t wait for Father Christmas to get my wish list,” he beamed with excitement. “I’ve asked him for a new bike and a Star Wars helmet.”
His younger sister, Rosie, grabbed her coat. “I’m not posting my letter to Santa this year,” she slipped on her shoes. “I’m going to leave it by the tree in our garden so the elves can deliver it via elf mail.”
Charlie grinned. “But the letter has to reach the North Pole by next week. If you leave it too late, the elves won’t be able to pick it up in time.”
Rosie sniffed. “Yes, they will, silly. The elves won’t let me down, and besides, I’m leaving my list outside before it grows dark.”
Charlie opened the front door. A gust of wind tugged at his letter and his fingers curled around the envelope. “You’d best wrap up warm Rosie, it’s rather windy today.”
Rosie clutched her scarf and gloves. “We’re off to the post box, Mum,” she announced, wriggling her small fingers into thick woollen mittens.
“Don’t be long,” Mum shouted from the kitchen. “The mince pies are ready and they’re best served warm.”
“We won’t. We promise.” Charlie buttoned up his coat and rushed out of the house dragging Rosie with him. They headed down the garden path and along a country lane, which led to the local village. The hedgerows were glittery with frost and the cold air caught in their throats.
“What will Santa bring you this Christmas?” Charlie turned onto the High Street. “Don’t tell me you’d like another doll?”
Rosie giggled. “No, I’d like something a little more grown up. I’m going to ask Father Christmas for a telescope.”
“Yes, so I can gaze at the stars.”
Rosie shrugged. “I don’t think so. Plus, if I’m allowed to have the telescope in my bedroom, I can watch for Santa coming to our house next year.”
Charlie’s eyes widened. “Wow. Now that is a great idea.” He reached a bright red letterbox and pushed his envelope inside. “It’s done.” He smiled. “My letter will soon be on its way.”
“As will mine,” Rosie interrupted, “only my letter won’t cost me a first-class stamp.”
Charlie sighed. “Do you honestly think the elves will pick up your wish list tonight?” He didn’t want to upset his sister, but he believed the elves were far too busy to notice Rosie’s letter.
“You’ll see,” Rosie insisted. “Elves never let you down.”
After tea, Rosie wrote her letter to Santa.
“It sounds as though you’re blackmailing Santa.” Mum chuckled as she read Rosie’s note. “We always leave mince pies and other goodies for him on Christmas Eve.”
“Ah, but I have an actual present for Santa.” Rosie tapped the side of her nose.
“What is it?” Charlie’s eyes widened.
“I’m not telling. It’s a surprise.”
“Go on. I’m dying to know.” He shook Rosie’s sleeve. “Pleeeaase.”
Rosie slipped her hand into her cardigan pocket and pulled out something small and smooth.
Charlie’ scratched his head. “What is it?”
“Are you serious?” Charlie laughed. “It’s worthless. Throw it away.”
“No!” Rosie pouted. “It’s special.”
Rosie lifted the stone closer to the light.
Charlie caught his breath. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before.
“It’s not a stone,” said Mum. “It’s a piece of amber.”
“What’s that?” Charlie asked.
“It’s a fossilised resin from extinct coniferous trees.”
Charlie’s mouth dropped open. “You mean it’s as old as a dinosaur?”
“Absolutely,” said Mum.
“There’s something inside the amber.” Rosie grinned. “I think it’s an elf’s tooth.”
“Let me see!” Charlie held out his hand.
Rosie dropped the honey-yellow stone into his palm.
Charlie’s fingers curled around the piece of amber. “It’s smooth like glass. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. I wonder if it really did come from an elf?”
“Well who else has such tiny teeth?”
“Where did you get it?” Charlie gave the stone back to Rosie.
Rosie pointed outside. “I found it in the garden when I was digging for buried treasure.”
Charlie grinned. “Santa’s going to love your present.”
Rosie smiled, placing the piece of amber in an envelope alongside her note. “We need to go outside and pin the letter to the old oak tree.”
“Let’s do it now!” Charlie dashed to the back door and Rosie rushed after him, the letter in one hand and a drawing pin in the other.
“Be careful,” Mum called out behind them. “And be quick. It’s getting dark.”
They ran into the garden and straight to the oak tree. Rosie pressed the pin through the letter and into the bark.
“Oh, it hurts,” she cried, shaking her fingers.
“I’ll help you.” Charlie bobbed down, closer to the ground and pressed the letter firmly into the tree. He used all his strength to push the drawing pin into the wood. It was hard work and he worried the pin would break. “I’ve done it,” he cried triumphantly, standing up to admire his handiwork. “Your letter to Santa is secure.”
“You’re the best brother, ever,” said Rosie, giving him a hug.
Charlie gently pushed her away. He wasn’t keen on all that mushy stuff and his friends had told him it wasn’t cool.
“Come on in it’s time to shower before bed,” Mum called from the doorway.
Charlie and Rosie chased after one another to see who got home first.
“I hope your letter’s gone by the morning,” Charlie chased Rosie up the stairs.
“It will. You’ll see.” Rosie dashed into the bathroom, shutting the door in his face. “Ha-Ha. I beat you, so I’m showering first.”
Charlie didn’t mind. He wasn’t keen on getting wet and was the main reason why he’d let her win. He thought about Rosie’s letter to Santa and hoped the elves would take it to him. He didn’t wish to see the look of disappointment on his sister’s face should the note still be there in the morning.
The next day, Charlie and Rosie jumped out of bed, got dressed, and hurried down the stairs.
“I hope the elves have taken my letter to Santa,” Rosie said munching a mouthful of Rice Krispies. “I mean, I understand they’re busy but I’m sure they’re not that busy.”
“Don’t be too glum if they haven’t been.” Mum handed Rosie a piece of toast. “After all, if they’ve missed it you can always use the snail mail and post your letter in the letterbox like Charlie did.”
“But there’s nothing magical in doing it that way,” Rosie huffed, “and besides, the elves work much quicker than Royal Mail.”
“I can’t argue with that.” Mum smirked, “but at least you’d know it would arrive at the North Pole in time.”
“You’ll see.” Rosie, climbed down from her chair and placed her bowl into the sink. As she made her way into the hallway Charlie was already putting on his shoes.
“Last one to the tree washes up for a week!” Charlie darted out the door and within seconds Rosie ran after him.
“Look, the letter’s gone.” Rosie clapped her hands with delight. “The elves have done their job.”
Charlie sucked in his bottom lip. “I’m speechless. Only the drawing pin is left.”
On Christmas morning Rosie woke Charlie with a shake. “Wake up sleepy head, Santa’s been.” She threw him a dressing gown. “He’s left lots of presents and guess what’s under the tree.”
Charlie rubbed sleep from his eyes. “Did he leave me what I wanted?”
Rosie grinned. “You’d best go and see.”
Charlie jumped out of bed and raced down the stairs. Dashing into the living room he saw the Christmas tree twinkle, surrounded by a mountain of presents. “Woah! That’s a lot of gifts.”
“Told you.” Rosie snuck around the back of the tree and wheeled out something big. “Look… this has your name on it.”
Charlie ripped off the paper. He grinned. ‘It’s the bike and Star Wars helmet I wanted.”
Mum entered the living room carrying a tray filled with hot chocolate and Dad swiftly followed with a plate of gingerbread. Dad chuckled. “You must have been a good boy this year.”
Rosie ran to the window. “Look Daddy, Santa’s brought me a telescope.” She pressed her eye to the lens.”
Dad smiled. “You really are both very lucky children.”
“Have you seen this?” Mum pointed to the table where a half-eaten mince pie sat. “Rosie, there’s a letter for you.”
“For me?” Rosie hurried over. “I wonder…”
“It could only be one person so you’d best open it.” Charlie hurried to her side.
Mum handed Rosie a dusky pink envelope with snowflakes on it. “I don’t recognise the handwriting so it could be from you-know-who.”
Rosie ripped the envelope open. “You’re right. It’s from Father Christmas.”
“Tell us what it says?” said Charlie.
“Okay, I’ll read it aloud.” Rosie cleared her throat
“I can’t believe Santa wrote to you and admitted he has spies,” Charlie said, dumbfounded.
“Of course, he does.” Mum munched on a biscuit. “How do you think he knows when you’re naughty or nice?”
“It’ll be the elves.” Rosie grinned. “They never miss a trick.”
Dad pointed down at the letter. “Well, you’d best heed the warning because you’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth – Santa has spies.”
“I’m just pleased he liked his present.” Rosie clutched the envelope to her chest.
Charlie nodded. “I’m still amazed that you found a fossilised Santa tooth inside a piece of amber. What’s the chances of that?”
“You could have made a fortune selling it on eBay.” Dad laughed.
“Dad, you’re terrible!” Rosie frowned.
“It seems to me,” Mum said, “that even Santa will have a merry Christmas this year. To have been reunited with a gift he treasured will surely make him happy.”
“Let’s make a toast to Santa,” said Dad, raising his mug of tea.
“Yes, let’s.” Rosie lifted her cup of hot chocolate.
“Merry Christmas Santa.” Charlie took a swig of his drink.
“And thank you to the elves and the reindeer who helped to get our presents to us on time,” added Rosie. “We wish you all a very, merry Christmas.”
Copyright © Lynette E. Creswell