Christmases With Grandad: Christmas Present (2021)

Part two of a three-part Christmas story written for BBC Radio Cumbria.

I’m sure this piece goes here,’ says Granddad, doing his best to force a yellow plastic chute into a red tower. He has a construction in front of him that is designed to take coloured marbles through various tubes and chutes down to a collecting tray at the bottom, but which looks more like a Heath Robinson contraption. ‘Yes, that’s it,’ he says triumphantly as he wedges the yellow chute precariously in place.

”That’s not right,’ says Lana, hands on hips.

Granddad Neil looks at his handiwork. ‘Of course it is,’ he says. Lana picks up a marble and drops into the top of the red tower. When it reaches the yellow chute it falls out and lands on the floor. ‘See?’ she says. ‘It’s upside down.’

‘Granddad!’ Eva says with all the indignation a two year old can muster.

‘He’s had too much wobbly juice,’ Lana explains and takes herself off to the kitchen to complain to her mum that he’s not up to the job.

Granddad has to concede that the girls may well be right on both counts. He chastises himself for having had more than one glass of wobbly juice. He turns back to the precarious marble construction and realises that if the yellow chute is upside down, then several others parts must be too. He wonders as he starts to remove them, why it has fallen to him to fit the marble tower together in the first place. Construction is definitely not one of his better skills.

He looks round at the other adults. Dad is asleep on the couch. Dennis, who always enjoys doing the washing up, is helping mum clear away the dinner dishes. Uncle Mikey is half watching a film he’s downloaded, which, although it is an animation, is far from suitable for children. Fortunately, both Lana and Eva gave up on it after five minutes, which leaves him to entertain them. He feels he has let them down with his inability to put together a child’s toy. Uncle Mikey, finding his efforts more entertaining than the film, announces it would be better if he sorted it out.

Lana meanwhile has taken herself off to the front room, the toy room as she calls it, and is setting out her doll’s tea set, the one Santa brought with Alice In Wonderland characters on it. She arranges her dolls and teddies around it and shouts for Granddad Neil. All is forgiven! The two of them sit at the table having an imaginary tea party. Lana pours while she explains how last night Santa left very muddy bootprints in the hallway. When, much later, mummy appears at the door and asks what the two of them are doing, Granddad Neil says, ‘we’re having a lovely Christmas.’ And indeed they are.

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