Charlie bounded towards the kitchen table and grabbed his letter before sprinting to the front door.
“I can’t wait for Santa to get my Christmas wish list,” he said, beaming with excitement. “I’ve asked him for a new bike and a Star Wars helmet.”
His younger sister, Rosie, grabbed her coat and put on her shoes. “I’m not posting my letter to Santa this year,” she replied. “I’m going to leave it by the tree in our garden, so the elves can deliver it via elf mail.”
“But the letter has to reach the North Pole by next week, so Santa has enough time to build the toys. If you leave it too late, the elves won’t be able to pick it up in time.”
Rosie gave her brother a wide grin. “Of course, they will, silly. The elves won’t let me down, and besides, I’m leaving my list outside this evening 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 rushed to where her hat, scarf and gloves were sitting on a peg.
“We’re off to the post box Mum,” she called out, wriggling her small fingers into thick woollen mittens.
“Don’t be too long,” their Mum replied from the kitchen. “The mince pies are ready to come out of the oven, and they’re best served warm.”
“We won’t, we promise,” both Charlie and Rosie chorused together. Charlie buttoned up his coat before rushing out of the house alongside his sister.
They headed down the drive and along a country lane, which led to the local village. The hedgerows were crisp and glittery with frost and the cold air caught in their throats.
“What are you hoping Santa will bring you this Christmas?” Charlie asked as they turned onto the High Street. “Don’t tell me you’d like yet another doll?” Rosie giggled and then punched him playfully in the ribs.
“No, I’ve enough of those, thank you. 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.”
“That sounds boring.”
Rosie shrugged. “Not at all. Plus, if I’m allowed to have the telescope in my bedroom, I can watch out for Santa coming to our house next year.”
Charlie’s eyes widened. “Wow, now that’s a great idea.”
Rosie turned to him, her lips curled into an impish grin. “Yes, I thought so too.” They reached the bright red letterbox and pushed the envelope inside. “It’s done, my letter will soon be on its way to Santa,” said Charlie.
“As will mine,” Rosie interrupted, “only my letter won’t cost me a first-class stamp.”
“Do you honestly think the elves will pick up your wish list tonight?” Charlie said. He didn’t want to upset his sister, but he believed they were far too busy to go running around after her.
“You’ll see,” Rosie insisted. “Elves never let you down.”
After tea, Rosie wrote her letter.
“It sounds as though you’re blackmailing Santa,” laughed Mum when she read the note. “We always leave out mince pies and other goodies for Santa on Christmas Eve.”
“Ah, but I have an actual present for Santa,” Rosie said, climbing down from the chair.
“Oh, what kind of present?” Charlie asked, intrigued.
“I’m not telling. It’s a surprise.”
“Go on, I’ll not spill the beans to anyone.” He shook Rosie’s sleeve, “Pleeeaase.”
Rosie looked doubtful, but then she pulled something small from out of her cardigan pocket.
“What is it?”
“It’s a stone.”
Charlie started to laugh. “Santa doesn’t want a stone for Christmas. You may as well throw it away.”
“No, I won’t,” Rosie snapped. “This stone is special.”
“How can it be?”
Rosie lifted it closer to the light. Charlie caught his breath. Sure enough, 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, confused.
“It’s a fossilised resin originating 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,” said Rosie, looking smug. “I think it’s an elf’s tooth.”
“How can you be sure?” asked Charlie in surprise.
“Because who else would have such tiny teeth?”
Charlie glanced across at his mum who wore a strange smile.
“Would you like to hold it?” Rosie asked, offering him the honey-yellow stone.
He curled his fingers around the piece of amber and held it in the palm of his hand. It was smooth like glass and rich in colour. He’d never seen anything so beautiful before, and the tooth really did look as if it came from an elf.
“Where did you get it?”
“I found it in the garden. I was digging for buried treasure when I came across it.”
“You’re rather lucky. I’m sure Santa’s going to love your present.”
Rosie took the piece of amber and placed it in the envelope with her message. “I need to pin the letter onto the old oak tree.”
“Let’s do it now,” said Charlie as he dashed to the back door. Flinging it wide, both children ran outside, Rosie with the letter in one hand and a drawing pin in the other. They hurried down the garden path to where the tree grew by a stream.
“Be careful,” Mum called out behind them. “And be quick. It’s getting dark.”
Once they reached the tree, Rosie found it hard to press the pin through the letter and into the bark.
“Oh, it hurts,” she cried, shaking her fingers.
“Shall I help you?” Charlie asked, and Rosie offered him the two items. Charlie bobbed down, closer to the ground, pressed the letter to the tree, and used all his strength to push the drawing pin into the wood. It was hard work, and he worried that 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. “Now the elves can come and retrieve my note.” 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 you two, it’s time to shower before bed,” Mum called from the house, and Charlie and Rosie chased after one another to see who got home first. Charlie always won. He had much longer legs and was three years older than his sister.
“I hope your letter’s gone by the morning,” he said, chasing Rosie up the stairs.
“It will be, you’ll see,” Rosie shouted, dashing into the bathroom and shutting the door in his face. “I beat you, so I’m showering first,” she declared. Charlie didn’t mind. He wasn’t keen on getting wet and was the main reason why he’d let her win this time. 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 to be greeted by their Mum.
“I hope the elves have taken my letter to Santa,” Rosie announced, shovelling Rice Krispies into her mouth. “I understand they’re extremely busy, but I’m sure they’re not that busy.”
“Don’t be too glum if they haven’t been,” Mum warned. “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 sniffed, “and besides, the elves work much quicker than Royal Mail.”
“I can’t argue with that,” said Mum with a titter, “but at least you know it’ll get to the North Pole in time.”
Charlie watched his sister closely, convinced she was about to be bitterly disappointed.
“You’ll see,” said Rosie, getting down off her chair to put her cereal bowl into the sink. Charlie quickly followed when she went into the hallway and grabbed her shoes.
In seconds they were both out through the back door and running to the old oak tree.
“Look, it’s gone,” squealed Rosie in delight. “The elves have done their job.” Charlie was amazed. Sure enough, there was no sign of Rosie’s letter anywhere. Only the drawing pin was left in the tree, exactly where he’d left it.
On Christmas morning, Rosie woke Charlie from a deep sleep with a shake. “Wake up sleepy head, Santa’s been,” she cried in delight. “He’s left a tonne of presents and guess what’s under the tree.”
“A bike?” Charlie asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Well, come and see for yourself.”
Charlie raced after his sister, down the stairs and into the living room where the recently decorated Christmas tree twinkled, surrounded by a mountain of presents.
Charlie simply couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d never seen so many gifts. Rosie snuck around the back of the tree and then wheeled something out.
“I think this is for you,” she said, with a smirk.
Sure enough, Charlie was delighted to find Santa had left him a bike and a Star Wars helmet. He ripped off the paper just as Mum and Dad entered the living room, Mum carrying a tray filled with hot drinks and gingerbread.
“You must have been a good boy this year,” Dad teased. “And Rosie, did you get the present you hoped for?” Rosie ran to the window, where she found a telescope perched on a tall tripod.
“Look Daddy, look what Father Christmas brought me,” Rosie shrieked, bouncing on one leg.
“You really are both very lucky children,” said Dad.
“Oh, have you seen this?” Mum interrupted, going over to the table where a half-eaten mince pie and nibbled carrot sat. “Rosie, there’s a letter for you.”
“For me?” Rosie replied, wearing a puzzled expression. “I wonder who could have sent it?”
“It could only be one person so you’d best open it,” said Charlie, eager to find out.
Mum handed Rosie a dusky pink envelope. “I don’t recognise the handwriting,” she said. “Do you really think it’s from him?”
Charlie watched her eyes grow wide as his sister ripped the envelope open.
“It is. It’s from Father Christmas,” Rosie cried, dancing around the room.
“What does it say?” Charlie asked, rushing to her side.
“Look for yourself,” Rosie said, thrusting the letter under his nose. His eyes glanced down at the unfamiliar handwriting.
“I can’t believe Santa wrote to you and admitted he has spies,” Charlie said, dumbfounded.
“Of course, he does,” said Mum. “How on earth do you think he knows when you’re naughty or nice?”
“It’ll be the elves,” said Rosie with a knowing smile. “They never miss a trick.”
“Well, you’d best heed the warning from now on because you’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth – Santa has spies.”
“I’m just pleased he liked his present,” said Rosie.
Charlie gave a nod. “Yes, I’m still amazed that you found a fossilised Santa tooth inside the piece of amber. What a wonderful discovery.”
“You could have made a fortune selling it on eBay,” chuckled Dad.
“You’re terrible!” said Rosie, clutching the envelope to her chest.
“It seems to me,” Mum said, “that even Santa will have a merry Christmas this year. To have been reunited with a gift, something he once treasured will surely make his day.”
“Let’s make a toast to Santa,” said Dad, raising his mug of tea.
“Yes, let’s,” agreed Charlie and Rosie.
“Merry Christmas Santa,” chorused Charlie and Rosie in unison, lifting their hot chocolates into the air. “And thank you also to the elves and the reindeer who helped to get our presents to us on time,” added Charlie. “We wish you all a very, merry Christmas.”
Copyright © Lynette E. Creswell