Father Christmas shut the door of his house and took his place on the sleigh alongside Jack, who was of course sitting in the front holding his maps and Plan of Action. He gathered the reins in one hand, and with a magnificient wave of the other, cried out : ‘Hi Ho reindeer, up up and away!!!’ The whole procession rose up into the inky black sky, circled once and was gone. The elves left behind on the ground waved and cheered until they could see no more than a golden glow, then that too disappeared, with the last ‘Ho Ho Ho!’ echoing through the frosty night.
The pixies in the Aerotrain oooohed and aaaahed in wonderment as they sped through the cold dark air; they were too excited to be afraid. Only Jack stayed quiet; he had seen it all before and was actually too busy thinking and studying his papers to take much notice. Father Christmas was already a bit anxious as to whether his task would be completed by morning; he would be heartbroken if just one child in the whole wide wide world did not get their presents on time.
He need not have worried. Jack had it all in hand. He had planned their route very carefully to make the best use of the time available, and the last stop of all would be New Puddlington, so all the little puddle pixies could go safely home to their beds ready for Christmas Day.
As they approached each house, Father Christmas was able to deliver the gifts by the light of the lamps and candles held by his helpers, together with the glow from the lamps and candles carefully placed on the train and sleigh by the elves..
It was a long night, and the little ones were beginning to yawn and want their beds; Thomas in particular wanted to get home as it would be his new brother Samuel’s first Christmas and he didn’t want to miss that. Jack’s god-Auntie Puddle Pixie Katie was also awaiting the birth of baby Leo any time now, and he wanted to be there to hear the news, remembering how he had arrived home with Santa last Christmas to find that his baby brother Luke had just been born! And of course his Uncle Big Luke and Auntie Emma were also awaiting the arrival of a new little puddle pixie – what a lot of new faces for the Nursery next year!
But there was not long to go now. Just a few more visits to make, then it would be homeward bound. The reindeer too were getting tired; they had been late leaving and Rudolf’s nose was itching and twitching – he had the beginnings of a cold!
They set off once again, this time for Australasia. New Zealand was next on the list, and they had just arrived in the middle of Christchurch, when Santa noticed the sleigh had begun to lose its power. He set it down carefully, and got ready to do the first deliveries. While he was sorting out his schedule, Miss Bathsponge soon found out what the problem was. The poor reindeer, worn out by the extra long night, had fallen asleep! Father Christmas shook his head, and said ‘How can I wake them up without waking the whole of New Zealand?’ Miss Jessica had an idea. She had found a feather duster under her seat in the Aerotrain, and tickled Rudolf’s nose gently with it, so as not to startle him. Unfortunately, he already had a bit of a cold, and the tickly duster was just too much for him. He let out the most ENORMOUS sneeze!.....AAAAAaaaCHOOO!!!! This not only woke all the other reindeer, but the whole of Christchurch as well!
Father Christmas quickly jumped back into his sleigh, and when all the Aerotrain passengers were once again settled, he drove off as fast as he could, for of course he could not deliver presents whilst people were awake! He might be seen and that would never do! Jack quickly consulted his timetable and concluded that the best use of the time would be to go to Australia and the other countries in the area first, then come back to New Zealand when everyone had gone back to sleep. So that is what they did, and before too long they were on their way home.
As they approached New Puddlington, they saw a golden glow. It came from a circle of candles in the snow placed by the Puddle Pixies near the Fairpuddle to guide Santa to a safe landing place.
But just beside the puddle, there was an even brighter, silvery glow. As they came in to land, they saw it was the light from an ENORMOUS sparkling, shining star. It was the most beautiful star in the heavens – The Christmas Star, propped up on a mound of snow. On one side stood the Puddle Pixie Elder, and on the other, an elderly gentleman with a pointy hat and a very long beard.
First the Puddle Pixie Mums and Dads helped their tired but happy children out of the Aerotrain, then Father Christmas strode over to the group round the Star, the sparkling snow crunching beneath his boots. He shook the Elder by the hand, squinting in the bright light of the Star, then turned to Merlin – for that is who the old gentleman was – the Lord Merlin, the most magical being in the Universe.
‘My dear old friend’, he said ‘I see you have solved the problem of the missing Star. Do tell me what happened’.
Merlin said : ‘I think the Elder should do that, for it was him who summoned me.’
And so the Elder told the tale :
‘I was just settling down for my Christmas Eve nap, when there was a knock at my window. It was my friend, Ursa Major, the Great Bear. When I asked him what he was doing there when he should have been lighting up his part of the sky to help the Christmas Star light Santa’s way, he explained that the Christmas Star had disappeared, so no lights could shine in the heavens this Christmas Eve.
Of course, I had my suspicions at once, and straight away took out the magic crystal my old mate the Lord Merlin had given me to contact him in emergencies, and recited the magic spell he head taught me:
‘MAGIC CRYSTAL SHINING BRIGHT
BRING LORD MERLIN TO YOUR LIGHT’ .
Quickly, Merlin’s face appeared in my crystal and I explained the problem to him. He looked very cross, and said he had a very good idea what had happened to the Christmas Star – it could well be the evil work of the Wicked Witches, whom he had banished many many years ago when the earth was young, but who sometimes still managed to break some of their magic free and once again start creating havoc.’
Father Christmas nodded in agreement. That was just what he had thought.
‘The crystal cleared, and I knew Merlin was on his way to the Wicked Witches’ lair. I think Merlin should tell his story now.’
Merlin took up the tale:
‘I was so angry when I heard my friend tell me that the Christmas Star had been stolen, I used all my strongest magic to get me to the Wicked Witches evil planet as soon as possible. When I got there, I uttered a very powerful spell and the place was swept by a terrible wind, thunder and lightning, rain, sleet and snow; the Wicked Witches could not control this and soon sent their Queen, trembling with fear, to kneel at my feet and ask me to stop the storm. Of course, I demanded the return of the Christmas Star – I knew it was there, I could feel its presence in my magic bones. They brought it to me, and I left that dreadful place at once, and their punishment would be to clear up the terrible mess left behind by the storm, without use of their magic, which I had once again taken from them.
So here I am, and I am going to entrust the Star to Ursa Major. He can take it with him back to the sky, and soon all will be as it should be. All the stars will twinkle and sparkle in the heavens, and Christmas Day can begin. Where are you Ursa Major?’
Suddenly there was a huge shower of snowflakes as The Great Bear stood before them. What everyone had thought was a snowy hill behind them was in fact him, asleep and covered in snow! He took the Star in his Great arms, and Merlin raised his trusty staff and said a magic spell. A silvery light surrounded the Bear and the Star, and they rose into the air.
‘Goodbye everyone’ said Ursa Major, and have a Happy Christmas!’ With a shower of stardust, they were gone. A moment later, the sky once again became a carpet of shining twinkling stars, with the Christmas Star shining its spectacular light; but the brightest constellation of all was Ursa Major – he waved his great arm to his friends below and settled back down in his accustomed place, So the darkness was banished and at last it was Christmas Day.
Merlin went off to have a cup of nectar with his friend the Elder, and everyone went back home, happy in the knowledge that Christmas would once again be bright and happy.
Oh, and if you, (like some of the little Puddle Pixies on the journey), were wondering how they would get any presents if they were out all night with Santa – I’ll let you into a secret. Father Christmas and Holly quietly delivered all their presents BEFORE they set off! He is magic too you know!
Goodnight Puddle Pixie and Human children, and Merry Christmas!