The Parting Of The Ways

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Teddy Bears Galore

“Wake up Uncle Marky!” screamed Niki jumping on Mark’s bed.

Michael nudged Tony slightly gently.

“Where’s the fire?” mumbled Mark.

“No fire!” said Niki shaking her head.

“Father Christmas!”

“Father Christmas?” asked Anthony impressed.

Michael nodded his head.

“Well come on then,” said Mark as they picked up one of the children each and rushed down to the sitting room where there was a roaring fire glowing and there were eleven stockings hanging over the fireplace.

Half the adults were already there and awake.

Major Llewelyn took Michael from Anthony and sit him down on his lap.

“What do you want from Father Christmas Mickey?”

“Teddy bear,” beamed Michael.

“A teddy bear, good choice. Have you been a good boy?”

“Yes,” nodded Michael.

“Is Santa coming?” asked Niki as Simon came in with Timothy.

“He’s already been, he came when you were asleep, but if you’re extra good, he might come this afternoon.”

Everyone opened their presents, Michael had gotten his teddy that he wanted, in fact between Niki and Michael, they got enough Teddys to start their own menagerie.

“I wonder why there are so many teddy bears,” muttered Mark, “maybe it’s got something to do with somebodies birthday?”

“Baby Jesus’!” yelled Michael and Niki.

“Yes little ones,” laughed Mr Pennington, kissing Niki on top of the head, “baby Jesus’.”

Anthony and Athene hadn’t gotten very many presents each, but Athene had gotten the navy-blue cashmere jumper she’d asked for, and Anthony had been given a new camera. He had been given a new cinecamera for his birthday which could record for much longer than thirty seconds and in colour.

But he had now been given a polaroid camera.

“It’s much clunkier than the old one,” said Mark looking at the huge camera which was a lot less sleek looking than Anthony’s new cinecamera.

“It can develop photos almost instantly,” Anthony explained as he looked at the camera, “you don’t have to develop it in a darkened room.”

Anthony had gotten quite good at developing photos, he and Athene used Athene’s room for developing and put a sign on her room saying ‘do not open,' when they were developing so no one let any light into the room.

“Oh,” said Mark only semi impressed as he tried on his new jacket, “cool.”

Mark had gotten lots for Christmas, but the big thing had been a brand-new set of leather luggage. There were three matching warm brown leather suitcases, and one smaller bag for hand luggage.

Mr Schuller, Mark’s new agent in Hollywood had got him his first film contract, and Mark started in early August. Mark could hardly fly all the way to America with his school trunk, so he had gotten all new suitcases.

“Santa doesn’t seem to have left much for our two scholars does he?” asked Simon.

“Maybe he left the presents outside?” suggested Nick.

Athene and Anthony looked at each other confused.

“Come on everyone,” said Simon taking Niki and Michael’s hands and rushing out to the driveway followed by the rest of the family.

There didn’t seem to be anything different outside, there were the five cars there. The four Pennington cars and Major Llewelyn’s.

“I can’t see anything different,” said Athene.

“Hurry up will you,” grumbled Mark holding his dressing-gown closer, “I’m ducking freezing.”

Celia gave Mark a meaningful expression.

“You’re lucky I didn’t use f,” said Mark.

“Be careful,” muttered Celia, “Niki’s learning to read.”

“Don’t notice anything different about your car Tons?” asked Nick.

Anthony walked over to his car and noticed there was something slightly different attached to the boot.

“There’s a bike rack,” shrugged Anthony.

“Father Christmas has brought a bike rack,” beamed Mr Pennington.

“But you can’t have a bike rack,” said Simon pulling open the garage, “without bikes.”

At the front of the garage, there were two brand new shiny bikes with ribbons attached. One was a dark green, and there was a slightly smaller bike which was a pale blue.

“We can’t send you two off to Oxford without bikes, now can we?” asked Mr Pennington.

Anthony was flabbergasted, he had had no idea any of this was happening.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” exclaimed Athene hugging Mr Pennington and her uncle Davy.

“Merry Christmas our little geniuses,” chortled Simon.

Anthony and Athene took their bikes for a test drive up and down the driveway, everyone clapping and cheering enthusiastically.

Then everyone started on the Christmas dinner and a certain someone’s birthday tea.

Whilst the turkey was in the oven, Athene Anthony and Major Llewelyn were making a miniature birthday tea. Tiny little sandwiches, minuscule fairy cakes, and the smallest of cookies. Niki was turning three today, and Father Christmas was coming to her Teddy bear’s picnic.

The Bells and Fforbes Hamilton’s came just in time for lunch, with a hardly recognisable Roger.

Roger had had a good scrub, and instead of his usual farm overalls was wearing a festive jumper in red and green stripes which his Mum had given him.

There was also a noticeable difference in Julie, she was always happy but today she seemed to be ecstatic and her arm linked with Roger’s.

As usual, as soon as lunch was over, Christmas day was over, and they moved onto December the 25th part two, Niki’s birthday.

After lunch, Mr Pennington slipped away, and everyone went through to the sitting room. As Mark was setting up the record player though, there was a loud knock on the front door.

“Who could that be?” asked Celia.

“Santa!” yelled Niki and Michael as they both rushed to the door.

Niki answered the door, and there, surprise surprise was Father Christmas as large as life.

“Well, hello there Nicole!” said Father Christmas, “and little Michael too.”

“Merry Christmas everyone, and a very happy birthday to you Niki.”

“Thank you, Santa,” beamed Niki.

“Are you going to invite Father Christmas in dear,” laughed Mrs Bell.

Father Christmas came back into the sitting room, where Mark had just finished setting up for musical statues.

“You lot ready to rock!” yelled Mark.

Simon and Mr Bell gave him meaningful looks.

“I mean are you lot ready to have a children’s birthday party?”

Mark put Rocking Around the Christmas Tree on his record player, and everyone danced around and then had to freeze when the music stopped.

Then they got out all the teddy bear and lined them up in a circle, it was time to play musical chairs, but with teddys. Everyone had to walk around the room, and when the music stopped, they had to run for the nearest teddy. One teddy would get removed at a time, and whoever didn’t have a teddy was out. The last person still in the game was the winner.

“Alright we’ve run off enough energy now,” said Mr Bell.

“I don’t know about Father Christmas,” chuckled Major Llewelyn half collapsing into a chair “but I’m shattered.”

“If everyone can sit down in the circle nicely next to a teddy,” said Julie, “we can play pass the parcel.”

Everyone sat down next to a teddy bear, ever Roger who hadn’t expected to be invited for a children’s birthday as well as Christmas but was thoroughly enjoying himself.

They slowly passed around the parcel, Mark had changed the record to Teddy Bears Picnic now which was playing for the rest of the afternoon.

Eventually, they got to the last layer, and the record stopped on Athene. She pulled off the paper, and instead of finding a brightly wrapped chocolate, she found a tiny little teddy bear. It was no more than a few inches tall and a warm caramel with a red ribbon tied around his neck.

“He’s adorable,” laughed Athene.

“He is pretty cute!” agreed Anthony.

Then Niki opened all her presents. One of her favourite presents was from Athene. Athene had made a dress for Niki like the one that Sleeping Beauty had worn at the end of the film, the pink version rather than the blue as it was Niki’s favourite colour. she had made it quite big so Niki could grow into it, she had also made doll versions of the Snow White and Cinderella dresses for the dolls Athene and Alice, who Niki took everywhere with her.

After presents, they played Hide and Seek, and Anthony and Athene were it. They spent nearly an hour searching for everyone around the house. Eventually the only people they had left to find where Julie and Roger.

“I can't think where they could be,” sighed Anthony.

“Tony, we didn’t leave the Do Not Open sign on my door did we?”

“I don’t think so,” said Anthony racing up the stairs to the attic to Athene’s room.

They opened the door, and he could hear muffled giggles.

Anthony sprang onto Athene’s bed and checked by the window. He found Julie, and Roger in each other’s arms laughing hysterically. They had clearly been making out in Athene’s room and had rolled out of sight when Anthony had burst through the door.

“Have you used Hide and Seek as an excuse to make out?” laughed Athene.

“Got a problem with that?” asked Roger getting up.

“Nope,” shrugged Anthony, “wish I’d thought of that myself.”

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