Christmas was fast approaching, and as the snow fell softly over Puddledom, Jack Puddle Pixie and his big brother Billy and his little brother Luke stood happily at the window, watching the dancing snowflakes falling faster and faster into the Fairpuddle, which shimmered and glimmered as the water slowly turned to ice.
Christmastime would be especially exciting this year, as it would also be Luke’s first Birthday, for he was born last year just as Father Christmas, helped by Jack, was finishing his rounds, and Christmas Eve was turning into Christmas Day.
‘We will soon be able to skate on the puddle’ said Jack to his Mum. ‘We must get our skates ready. Will Luke be able to come with us this year?’ Mum laughed. ‘No dear, he is still too little to skate – he can’t walk properly yet. Maybe next year. But when the snow is deep enough, perhaps you can give him a ride on your toboggan!’ Jack nodded. ‘Yes’ he said’, and I wonder if Father Christmas will need my help this year? I would love to see him again, and introduce him to our Lukey!’.
Mum smiled. ‘We’ll have to see about that, there are only two weeks until Christmas Day, and you haven’t heard from him yet’.
Far away in his magic land, Father Christmas was busy writing his lists. He had lists for this, lists for that, and of course a very long list of lists.
All seemed well. The reindeer were all healthy and happy, safely resting in their stable, chatting about the night’s work ahead of them. There were sounds of banging, tapping, machines whirring and merry laughter coming from the workshop, as Santa’s Elves went happily about their business of making toys for Christmas.
In the garage stood Santa’s sleigh, all shiny with new paintwork, the harnesses hung with silver bells all shining as brightly as the Christmas star as the mechanic elves gave it yet another good polish.
They had already given the Aerotrain a good polishing and going over just in case it was needed at the last minute if there were a problem with the reindeer as there had been once before. But, thank goodness, at present all seemed well, and Father Christmas sighed contentedly as he shuffled his papers and sipped his steaming mug of hot chocolate with meringues.
On Christmas Eve in New Puddlington, the Puddle Pixies had tested the ice on the Fairpuddle, and decided it was safe to skate on. Off Jack trooped, wrapped up warmly, and spent happy hours skating with his friends, watched from the window by Luke and his Mum.
Of course, they did not hear the shout that went up from Santa’s Elves; but the Puddle Pixies also cried out loudly as suddenly all went dark.
There was confusion as everyone made for the banks as best they could, and made their way home, where their families were waiting anxiously.
‘What happened?’ Jack panted, as he ran indoors, trying not to trip over anything, as his mum lit some candles.
‘I don’t know’, said his Mum, ‘All of a sudden the stars just went out! It’s a good job I got plenty of candles in for Christmas!’
Luke was a little bit afraid, but soon stopped crying as his brothers patted his hand and Mum made them all a hot drink. It was of course his Birthday, and he had had a lovely day toboganning with his family; but of course now he was rather worried. How would Father Christmas manage to deliver the presents in the dark?
In his office, Father Christmas was thinking the very same thing. He was pacing up and down, already dressed in his best coat and boots, his red hood splendid with newly brushed white fur. Every now and then he stopped, raised his eyebrows and a finger as he had an idea; then he shook his head, and started pacing again.
At length he called his elves, saying : ‘Gather together all the candles and lanterns you can find. There’s only one thing for it – I’m off to talk to Jack!’
With a whoosh and a swoosh and a swirl of snowflakes, Father Christmas appeared quite without warning in Jack’s front room. He had been in such a hurry that his elf Holly had got caught up in the magic spell, and he had come too! This was fine, as he and Jack were old friends.
Luke laughed and clapped his hands in surprise at all this commotion, but Jack had rather expected that Santa might need his help. Shaking Jack warmly by the hand, Santa said : ‘There’s no time to lose. I cannot get all round the world in time in this darkness. I need a plan, and, Jack, I think you are just the chap to help’.
Jack said : ‘Of course I will try, but do you know what happened to the light?’
‘Well’, said Father Christmas, As far as I can see, the Christmas Star must have disappeared. I can’t be sure, but I rather think it has been stolen by the Wicked Witches. And of course, if there is no Christmas Star on Christmas Eve, the moon and the other stars cannot shine. But I don’t have time to worry about that now; the immediate problem is to make sure all the children in the wide wide world have their gifts when they awake on Christmas morning. Can you help me? Oh and by the way, Happy Birthday Luke, here’s a musical lollipop for you!’.
Jack gazed at his computer for a while, head in hand, deep in thought. Suddenly he leaped up, snapped his fingers and said : ‘I’ve got it! We must gather together all the lamps and candles we can find, and put as many people as possible into the Aerotrain so that they can each hold two lamps and carry the light all around the world. Before we go, I will, with the help of my computer, plot us a course which will be the quickest route possible to get everything done in time, taking into consideration the international time differences!’
Father Christmas replied : ‘Great plan, Jack. I have already told the Elves to prepare candles and lanterns, but who will hold them? The elves cannot make this journey; they just can’t stand flying and always get airsick.’
But Jack had the answer to that problem too. ‘We need very small people to hold the lights, so that we can take as many lanterns as possible on the Aerotrain. ‘ As he spoke, he was already sending e-mails to the Fairpuddle Nursery teachers, Miss Jessica and Miss Bathsponge, asking them to bring as many of the nursery children as possible to Jack’s house, making sure they had a packed lunch and plenty of warm clothing.
Soon the children began to arrive with their Mums and their teachers. Of course, Jack and Luke were soon dressed and ready to go, and they greeted first Thomas, Caitlin and Matthew, then Keira-Louize with her friend little Ellie-Mae, and jolly little Joshua chatting merrily to his cousin Sophie and the twins Hannah and Amy, then Abbie and her sister Izzy, and many others all eager to help. Billy, Alexander and Natalie were eager to come too, to help look after the little ones. Thomas was a little sad that his brother Samuel couldn’t come too, but he was only a week old, and far too small for such an adventure. Maybe next year, Thomas thought. Next, Father Christmas sent a message on ahead to the elves who looked after the Aerotrain, to ensure there would be enough safety belts and blankets for the children.
When every woolly hat and scarf had been put on, and lunchboxes checked in, they all linked hands with the teachers and stood around Father Christmas. As Jack printed off his journey plan and joined them, Father Christmas waved his hand; there was a flash of light and soon only a cloud of fog with the merest suggestion of snowflakes remained.
Soon they arrived back at Santa’s grotto. The Elves had not been idle while Santa was away; the Puddle Pixies gasped with wonder as they saw the splendid sleigh, sparkling in the light of a million trillion candles, all loaded up and ready to go; the reindeer were already hitched up, and stomping the ground impatiently, the silver bells on the harness tinkling merrily.
There were even more cries of amazement as the garage door opened and the Aerotrain chugged slowly out, surrounded by a halo of golden light from hundreds of little lanterns carried by Father Christmas’ elves walking alongside.
When the Puddle Pixie children were all settled comfortably in the Aerotrain, carrying a glowing lantern in each little gloved hand, the elves fixed more lamps and candles all round the train which was now hooked securely on to the back of the sleigh. Then it was time to go.