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The Advent Calendar

'So, does everybody know what they're doing?' asked the angel, looking at the motley assortment before her. 'Errol, please stop tweaking Rudolph's nose. It's not clever.'

A snowman sidled away from the reindeer, his twig arms held guiltily behind his back. Rudolph sneezed, spraying one of the wise men, who swore inventively, and not at all festively. The angel sighed, shaking her head sadly. Months they'd been rehearsing, months! And they were no closer to being ready for the performance than when they'd started back in June.

'Look, everyone,' she said, in a last desperate bid to appeal to their inner thespian. 'Just do your best and remember, think Christmas.'

She watched as they all ambled away, chattering amongst themselves. She glared at Errol who had helped himself to some of the icing off the top of the Christmas pudding. She had never had to work with such an undisciplined bunch as this before. She had thought 2009 was bad enough when the whole cast had come down with the flu just before the opening, but this year was testing the limits of her legendary patience.

Of course, there was no point complaining. With the staffing shortages there was little chance of finding replacements. She would just have to work hard and make the best of the situation. After all, it was for the children.

'Now then, places everyone!'

She settled into place, arranged her wings and halo in a suitably angelic pose and forced herself to smile serenely. She watched as the others took their places, rolling her eyes as the robin allowed himself to become distracted by the dove. There was something not altogether proper about their relationship. She'd had to speak to them on several occasions about the importance of maintaining decorum.

There was a moment of panic as the Christmas pudding realised it had lost one of its holly leaves, but Joseph quickly found it and fixed it back in place. He was a real trouper. It was such a relief to have a dependable male about the place.

'Everyone ready?' she hissed.

There was a frantic rustling and the whole set shook violently. A bauble bounced from the Christmas tree, rolling to the angel's feet. She looked at Joseph in despair and hid it beneath her long flowing skirts. They would just have to smuggle it back later. She should have known they would have to be wired in place.

And then, they were flooded with light and a befreckled face peered in. 'I got a star!' cried a voice so loud that several of the cast winced. 'Look Mummy! A star!'

And then it was gone.

After an hour the angel decided it was probably safe for everyone to move. She bent down to retrieve the bauble, threw it to Joseph, who caught it deftly and sprinted up to the tree with it. She turned her attention to Errol.

'Don't think I didn't see,' she scolded. 'I saw you making rude gestures to the cherub.'

Errol scowled, a tricky manoeuvre for a snowman. 'It's his fault!' he grumbled, pointing upwards at Rudolph. 'I shouldn't have to stand beneath him! It's unhygienic.'

'Rudolph has been house trained, as you very well know!'

'Why do I have to be number seventeen? It's practically Christmas by then!' continued the snowman.

'We all drew our numbers from the hat, Errol. Why, I myself have to wait until the 22nd!'

'And that's another thing! It was my bloomin' hat you used! It's still got little bits of paper in! And anyway, why do we have to be in place when it's not even our turn?'

'One year we had a child who opened all the windows on the first day. Caused quite a stir I can tell you!' shuddered a shepherd. The angel nodded sympathetically.

'Places!' cried one of the wise men, who had climbed up to peer out of the star's now open window. 'Someone's coming back!'

Everyone hurried back to their posts, though Errol was still grumbling about his hat and how it had chafed ever since the draw. The angel sighed. This was the last advent calendar she planned to do. From next year it was Christmas cards all the way.


© 2011 Kay Lawrence.


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