THE CHRISTMAS FAIRY

It was dark and it was cold and it was December. The snow was two inches deep on the path and every fence
around every garden was dusted in a fine white powder.

Bright lights peeped out from between gaps in drawn curtains but many households had not closed their curtains
at all. From these, there shone a kaleidoscope of many colours that twinkled and flashed and lit the windows and
brought smiles to the faces of passers-by.

Christmas was fast approaching and fir trees adorned almost all the houses in Rushmere Terrace. Baubles,
trinkets, little boxes and miniature chocolate bars hung from their outstretched branches.

Mr Nixon, from Number Two, was shuffling home to a tea of hot crumpets smothered in butter. He looked into
each window as he passed and occasionally spotted the faces of young children peering out into the darkness.
They waved to him and he waved back.

As he approached home, he gazed into the darkened window of the house next door. The curtains were open. He
could just make out the dark silhouette of a Christmas tree, its arms outstretched but sadly lacking in spirit. Why, it
hardly seemed to be enjoying itself at all.

"Good evening, Mr Nixon,” said a little voice.

Mr Nixon turned slowly and looked down at the small figure that was looking up at him. It was Adam Warner from
next door.

"Why, good evening, Adam," he said to his four-year-old neighbour. "Not out alone, surely?"

Moments later he heard the hurried footsteps of Adam's father crushing the snow beneath his feet.

"I'll be glad to get indoors and out of the cold," he said, smiling at his neighbour.

"Oh, I like the crisp air and the snow and everything to do with Christmas," Mr Nixon replied. "I like to walk along
the streets and look at the bright lights and the shining faces of the children."

"No bright lights in our house,” sighed Adam, his young neighbour.

"Not tonight, I'm afraid," his father replied and put a comforting arm around his shoulder.
"Fuse went on the tree lights," he explained to Mr Nixon. 
"The shops will be open again tomorrow. I'll get it fixed then."
"If Jesus was here he could do one of his miracles,” Adam declared.
"I' m sure he could," Mr Nixon said, "but you can trust your dad to fix things, too, I' m quite sure."

The first thing Mr Nixon did when he got indoors, even before he put his crumpets under the grill and even before
he prised open a tin of cat food for Toby, was to scour the little cupboard under the stairs and fish out a fuse.

He put the fuse in an envelope, stepped out once more into the fresh night air, and popped the envelope through
his neighbour's letter-box.

He might not be Jesus but he was still capable of minor miracles.

Adam and his mum had spent hours decorating the tree. The lights had been arranged so that they spread their
cheery glow not only around their sitting room but out into the street beyond. Nearly all the front windows of the
houses in Rushmere Terrace were bursting with colour. Some shone gently, some twinkled gaily, but all seemed
to say `Merry Christmas' . For indeed, it was Christmas Eve and tomorrow would unite people from every corner
of the globe.

Adam was kneeling beside the tree. He looked approvingly over the hard work that he and his mother had put
into arranging the sparkling silver and gold globes, the tinkling bells, the glittering lights and the mysterious little
boxes that promised more than their size suggested.

His gaze and his young, contented smile travelled beyond the outstretched branches and up towards those
branches even taller than he until his eyes reached the very top of the tree.
Suddenly he let out a short cry.

"Mum!" he wailed. "We've forgotten the fairy!"

And they had, too.
They both searched high and low but without success.

When dad came home he joined the hunt as well and turned out drawers, poked under cushions and examined
every nook and crevice in the house. Finally, he dived out of the back door with a torch and rummaged through
the boxes in the shed. On his way back, he attracted the bemused attention of Mr Nixon who was in his garden
next door looking up at the magical starry sky.

"My goodness! Whatever is the matter?" he asked. "You look as worried as any man I ever saw."
"I am," he replied. "And I've a desperate wife and a tearful son indoors, too."

"Can I help?" asked Mr Nixon gently.

Mr Warner threw up his arms in despair.

"Not unless you can perform miracles," he declared. "Tomorrow is Christmas Day and we've lost the Christmas
"Oh, dear," said Mr Nixon, moving his head slowly from side to side.

"Oh, dear, oh, dear" and he shuffled off towards his potting shed with a twinkle in his eye.

That night, before settling himself into bed with a hot water bottle, Mr Nixon climbed the small step ladder he had
taken from the shed and reached for a worn cardboard box on the top shelf of his wardrobe.

Memories of childhood flooded his head and at once he was seventy years younger and eagerly fingering the
objects of a cardboard box that his parents had just given him. It was full to overflowing with brilliant Christmas
decorations, white angelic figures and little wooden frost-laden Yuletide scenes. And then he recalled their
glorious pine tree. It filled the whole of one corner of a room ... and it had the most beautiful fairy on the top.

The door to Number Four stood slightly ajar. Mr Nixon hesitated. He had already knocked twice without reply. It
was Christmas Day and it was sunny but it was chilly and he shivered. Toby's brother, the Warner's cat, slipped
between his feet and slid through the open door. Mr Nixon followed it and stepped carefully into the hallway. He
stopped briefly to admire the framed photographs of Adam as a baby and then as a toddler.

"Hello. Is anybody there?" he called out in a thin voice.

No reply.

He gingerly opened the door to the front room. There was the tree with its lights sparkling even though it wasn't
quite ten o' clock in the morning.

The tree was magnificent - every bit as good as the one he recalled from his own childhood. Little wooden figures
swung gently from side to side and chocolates dressed in silver and gold shimmered, captured in a brilliant halo of

Beneath the mantle of branches were brightly covered parcels tied with colourful ribbons and all waiting to be

Mr Nixon's eyes travelled slowly up the tree until they reached the very top.

He took something from his pocket and stood on tip-toe.  It was Christmas Day and now everything would be

Hearing voices approach from the back garden he hurried out of the room and out through the front door, this
time closing it gently behind him.

It was nearly lunch time and Mr Nixon grimaced ruefully. It hadn't been worth splashing out on anything too
special for his Christmas dinner. Having one mouth to feed and one pension to feed it he preferred to save his
money and use it to buy little presents for the children of neighbours who helped him out from time to time.

The doorbell rang and Mr Nixon hastened to see who it was.
"Mum says will you have Christmas dinner with us?"
It was young Adam from next door.
"If you do," he added, "you'll be able to see the miracle."
"Miracle?" queried Mr Nixon scratching his head.
Adam nodded.
"Tell your mother I'd love to come round for dinner. What time am I expected?"
"Now!" Adam yelled reaching out to grab his neighbour's hand.

Mr Nixon was greeted warmly by his neighbours.

"I think Adam is anxious to show you something," said Mrs Warner leading the way into their front room.

And there, every bit as resplendent as it had been when he'd seen it surreptitiously earlier that morning, was the

"Look ... look ... there's a fairy at the very top of the tree now!" Adam exclaimed.

"It wasn't there last night and it wasn't there this morning when I got up."

"And it wasn't there when we went into the garden this morning to look for our cat, either," Mr Warner added. "
But when we came back indoors...."
He winked at his elderly neighbour.  "…. we found the cat indoors and the front door

The meal was splendid.

Afterwards, Adam went out into the garden to play in the snow and the adults sat down to listen to the Queen's
Christmas Day message. Mr Nixon dozed off contentedly just before it began. There was a warm glow on his
cheeks and a smile played softly on his lips.

Mr Nixon wasn't Jesus but he could still perform minor miracles
Terry Braverman
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