The Yuletide Fairy of Yorkshire
Published Dec 27, 2017

Written By



Page 1 / 76

Our story begins on the cobbled streets of Victoria’s England, many moons ago now.

It was that time of year again in the village of Little Frederick, rural Yorkshire. It was a time for knitting mittens and scarves, a time for picking ivy and conifer and holly from the trees while the snow drifted down from the skies, settling on every roof and on the top hat of any man who stood still for long enough.

It was a time when villagers gathered to sing their favourite carols while the din of the bells echoed through the dales beyond, where noses were red and fingers were frozen, but nobody minded because it was after all that time of year again- it was Christmas time in Little Frederick.

Our story begins on the cobbled streets of Victoria’s England, many moons ago now.

It was that time of year again in the village of Little Frederick, rural Yorkshire. It was a time for knitting mittens and scarves, a time for picking ivy and conifer and holly from the trees while the snow drifted down from the skies, settling on every roof and on the top hat of any man who stood still for long enough.

It was a time when villagers gathered to sing their favourite carols while the din of the bells echoed through the dales beyond, where noses were red and fingers were frozen, but nobody minded because it was after all that time of year again- it was Christmas time in Little Frederick.
A strange tale of a yuletide fairy who passed through Little Frederick and her surrounding towns each Christmas eve had long persisted in the village. Most believed it was a pleasant story, but nothing more.

Only a handful of people had claimed to have personally seen the fairy over the years, and there was a simple reason for this- the fairy only appeared to the folk who needed her the most.
On one particular Christmas eve, that of the year 1890 to be exact, she landed softly and unseen in front of Clockworthy's Dairy. As soon as she landed she heard the sole employee, Wilbur Clockworthy, sigh and mutter to himself. He rubbed his forehead in defeat while he contemplated another long night in his makeshift home. The fairy watched him with pity in her eyes.

"Sir?" she said, stepping forward until she stood right in front of him. There was a cold wintery air in the dairy. Pails and crates surrounded him. This was livelyhood, it was all he had.

Mr Clockworthy gasped at first. "Who-wh-who are you?" he stuttered.

"I am the yuletidy fairy" the fairy explained, "and I have come here because you are in need. I do not know what your need is, but I know you would not be able to see me otherwise. I have been compelled to this place because you need something this Christmas time. Now tell me, sir, what is it?"

They walked into the ajoining room. It too was cold and airy. It was an extension of the dairy, by no means a proper home.

"This is where I live" Mr Clockworthy explained. "And this is all I own. I have two lamps, a table, and a haystack for a bed. And the clothes I stand up in. My elderly uncle owns this dairy and I work for him for tuppence, he is a miser, a greedy old man living the high life in London while I am here keeping his business afloat. For all my hard work, this is all I have to show for it"

"I see" the fairy said, "then it is a warm home to live in- a real home- that you need"

"I can only wish for it, ma'am" Mr Clockworthy said humbly.
"Fortunately for you then, good sir, I am in the business of making wishes come true" the fairy said, and she swung her wand in the air.

Mr Clockworthy watched, astonished, as a glittering pattern of green light swept across the room and everything changed right before his eyes.
"By golly" he said, his eyes widened, "by golly". He looked around the room in amazement. It was no longer the empty shell he had spent many a cold night in. It was a real home.

There was rich green carpet, the like of which he had never seen. He had embroidered rugs, fancy wallpaper, chairs fit for a king. He even had a brand new outfit, and best of all he had a warm fireplace.
He covered his mouth in awe and closed his eyes. He opened them again, half expecting that it was all a dream, but it wasn't. His beautiful new home was real, and it was all his own.

He couldn't believe it. His dreams really had come true.

"How can I ever repay you for this?" he said gratefully, turning to the fairy.

"You don't have to repay me" the fairy said. "This is a gift. It's yours. There is nothing you can do for me"

"By golly" Mr Clockworthy said again.

"But there is something you can do for others, however" the fairy added. "You must give each of your neighbours a pale of milk for Christmas. That is all I ask of you in return. Let them each have a pale of milk from your dairy at no cost, it will add a little happiness to their festivities"

"I will", Mr Clockworthy nodded eagerly, "Oh, I will, of course"

"Then I bid you a Merry Christmas, good sir. I must be leaving. There are others who need me", and with that she spun around and disappeared, believing in good faith that Mr Wilbur Clockworthy would indeed fulfil his promise.

A stone's throw away from Clockworthy's Dairy lived a young man by the name of Theodore Riley, he and his new bride, Hannah, had been married for just three days.

As they stood in their tiny kitchen, solemn expressions on their faces, they lamented that they would have no Christmas dinner this year.

"This is our first Christmas as man and wife" Hannah said, looking at the empty table, "I wanted everything to be right"
And then all of a sudden in a fantastic blaze of blue the yuletide fairy appeared in front of them. The couple gasped in awe and froze on the spot.

"I am the yuletide fairy" the fairy told them, and she explained herself as she had done to Mr Clockworthy previously. "You are able to see me because you need something that I can grant, what is it that you need?"

"Well, well...we-" Hannah started to say. Her husband was still speechless. "We-we..are newly married. This is our first Christmas together. Together with the money we spent on our wedding and our first months rent of our home together we have left none for food. We are too proud to ask our families, and although we know our neighbours would share their food with us, again we are too proud"

"Then a feast it is" the fairy said.
She flicked her wand while the astonished couple looked on. "Poor young fools" she thought to herself, "I hope they will be more sensible with their spending habits in the future", but she didn't mind granting their wish tonight.

She felt they were good people and she wished them well.
On the table in front of them a collection of fine foods appeared out of nowhere. There was exotic foods, things the people of England had not yet experienced. There were bags of grain and vegetables to sustain them through the coming year- fruit, turkey, sweet and savoury treats. Everything they could have wished for, and did. The Riley's couldn't believe their eyes. Their table had been bare just a few seconds ago, now the kitchen was full of inviting smells and all sorts to eat.

"Wish granted" the yuletide fairy said, "I trust you will enjoy your meal"
"How can we repay you for this?" Theodore and Hannah said in unison.

"You don't have to" the fairy told them, "it is a gift. But there is one thing I ask of you"

"Of course, what is it?" they both said together.

"There is a lot of food here for two people, so share some with your neighbours, as you said they would share with you. Bring them in, let them sample all the wonders on this table too"

"We will" they assured her, "we will, we will"

And she left them, too, in good faith that they would do as she had asked.
Not far away from the Riley's house the fairy happened upon a father and his son. Overhearing their conversation she moved closer.

"But father" the boy was saying, "we must do something, we cannot just leave it as it is. Especially not at this time of year, mother and the youngsters will freeze"

"Do you think that I don't know so?" the father replied, exasperated and desperate, "do you think I have not tried my best to fix it? Do you think I do not know it is freezing tonight? Can I not see the icicles in front of us? Can I not feel the dreadful chill in the air? Don't you think I already feel I am of no use? Don't you? Don't you?"
"Do not argue amongst yourselves" the fairy interupted. The father and son jumped and turned around. Like the Riley's and Mr Clockworthy they couldn't believe their own eyes. "I am here to help" she said, "what is your need?". She told them who she was.

After a long silence the father, who introduced himself as Mr Elijah Pritchard, the local postman, and his son of the same name, began hesitantly to tell the fairy of their woes.

"This cottage of ours" he mumbled, "the roof is leaking, there are draughts coming through from every corner. It is an old dwelling. It belonged to my father, and before that my grandfather, and my great-grandfather. I inherited it when I came of age, but it is not fit for purpose. Inside it is a wreck. The thought of spending another bitter winter here is a miserable one indeed. My wife and my our three young daughters are inside huddled around the fire, but I fear that too is going to malfunction any day now. I feel useless, madam, useless"

"Come over here" the fairy said to the Pritchards, and they gathered around her in anticipation.

The young Elijah Pritchard's eyes lit up and his father's jaw dropped while they watched what happened next; a streak of green dust fluttered around their home, first to the walls, then to the roof, it snaked right around the cottage repairing everything in its path.

Their house was as good as new.
"How can we repay your kindness?" Elijah senior shouted to the fairy as they waved her off.

"You can't" she told them, "what I have given you is a gift. But you can do something. Help your neighbours with anything they need. If one of them come to you with a faulty floor tile or a leaking tap you will be able to help them, knowing what it feels like yourself"

"We shall, of course" Mr Pritchard called out, and the fairy's work was done.
She flew into the air feeling satisfied with herself that she had helped all those in need.

"They will certainly pass on some kindness to their neighbours this yuletide" she said to herself and on she went to the next village, and the next, and the next, where she found hoards of people like those in Little Frederick who desperately needed her intervention.

But was her faith in the people of Little Frederick going to prove misplaced?
What happened to the first of those the fairy helped that night, you may wonder?

The first thing Mr Clockworthy did when the fairy had left was light his fire. It had been a long time since he had a warm fireplace to bask in front of. He raked and poked at the flames and smiled from ear to ear. It was all his. The warmth and comfort it brought to him was unimaginable even that very morning.
When the fire was lit he sat on the edge of his new chair to try it out. "I won't get too comfortable" he said to himself, "I have to go outside and deliver a pail of milk to each of my neighbours"

He knew he should have stood up then and set off on the task he'd been given, but he didn't budge. He just couldn't bring himself to move.

"More snow?" he said, sighing, looking out at a fresh snowfall through his window. "Perhaps I will wait until it stops and then deliver the milk to my neighbours"
"Yes, that is what I'll do" he told himself, and he lay back on his luxurious new chair. "I will deliver their milk to them when the snow stops. I am too warm and cosy to go outside in that blizzard. Why, I could catch myself the flu in that weather"

He fell into a light sleep and awoke an hour later. "I will do it in a few minutes" he said, but a few minutes passed and he went back to sleep. Three more times he woke in the night with the promise of delivering the milk, but the snow was always too heavy, or his house too comfortable to leave, and in the end Christmas came and went and his neighbours never saw their pails of milk.
In the Riley household the two newly-weds sat down to their delicious meal.

"This is exquisite" Theodore said, "I have never eaten so lavishly in my life"

"Nor me" Hannah said. And they had a second helping each. Followed by a third, then a fourth.

"The fairy said we should share this food with our neighbours...didn't she, Theo?" Hannah said, feeling slightly guilty as she scoffed through more and more food. Theodore shrugged and kept eating.

"She may have said something of that sort" he said when he finished another plateful. "But there are many people in this village. If we divided all that we have left with them, would there be any left for us tomorrow? After all, this was our gift...not theirs"

He gulped his food down while wrestling with his conscience. But it was getting too late to share even if they had wanted to after all, the food was disappearing fast and soon there would be none.
"You're right, my darling" Hannah said, she forced a smile. "They will never know what they missed anyhow. And it's not as though they will starve. They have water and potatoes and bread. All plain foods, granted, but they will sustain them.

And of course that Mr Clockworthy in the dairy, as an example, could provide everyone with a free pail of milk if he wanted, couldn't he? Why should it be only our responsibility to treat everyone? Now, would you like another helping?"
And as for the Pritchard family, they were- sadly- no more generous than Mr Clockworthy or the Riley's had been.

"Mr Pritchard?" their next door neighbour called as he knocked on their firmly closed door. "Mr Pritchard? I wondered could you help me out with something, my friend? I know it's Christmas, and I shant be a bother. It shall only take a second of your time"

He stepped back. He knew the Pritchard's were home. He could hear them through the door, their laughter and good cheer was proof of that.

"Mr Pritchard?" the neighbour tried again, "I have a small problem. My kitchen window has jammed open and the breeze is coming in. Could you lend me a plank of wood to cover it for the night?"
Some hours later before the sun had risen on Christmas morning, the yuletide fairy returned to Little Frederick.

She wasn't quite sure why she came back.

What she did know was that she had an odd feeling, and that was all she would ever be able to offer as way of explanation on the matter- an odd feeling.

She fluttered back into the village and retraced her steps.
She went first to the dairy.

All the pails of milk were right where they had been hours earlier.

Mr Clockworthy hadn't bothered to distribute them to his neighbours.
Next she went to the Riley household.

She looked through the window of their humble terrace house. The food was gone, that much was true, but clearly it hadn't reached their neighbours, just like the pails of milk.

She saw the gluttoness couple slumped against their chairs in a deep sleep- the effects of having eaten so much. They were surrounded by empty plates. The food was all gone, every last morsel.
And finally with an even greater sense of foreboding she went back to the Pritchard's home.

"Perhaps they will surprise me" she hoped, "surely one, even one, of the people I helped tonight will have done the right thing"

But she found they had acted just as selfishlessly as the others.

She watched, crestfallen and bitter as the Pritchard's next door neighbour returned to his own house without their help.

How could they be so ungrateful, she asked herself. How could they be so self centred?
"I am disgusted" she said, shaking her head back in forth in dismay. "I am so very disgusted and disheartened"

"Well this day I make a promise to you, Little Frederick. I shall not return to you again for another one-hundred years. There will be no more wishes granted- there shall be no more home comforts given to you, or fine foods, there shall be no more of it. This is your comeuppance. I will grant you no more good things until all these years elapse. This I promise you this Christmas day", and she flew away into the night, never to be seen again for another century.

The years soon passed in Little Frederick, from one Christmas to the next, one decade to another, until finally that Christmas of 1890 was gone from living memory, never to return- replaced by a new and unrecognisable world- one that changed life forever, the twentieth century.

The gas lights saw themselves traded for electricity. Motor cars dotted the streets where horses had once trotted. Phone boxes and televisions sets became every day sights.

A strange new world had been born.
Clockworthy's dairy still stood, but it no longer sold pails of milk.

It went by a new name now; Little Connie's Coffee Den, and like it's predecessor it was one of the village's most popular establishments.
The old fireplace that been lit in Mr Clockworthy's living room that shameful night nearly one hundred years ago was the only remnant of his existence left in the building now.

There it was yet, still cloaked in its beautiful solid wood, elegant and wonderful as it had always been, and blazing once again on a late December's day.

The two children who now stood in that very room, mesmerised by the TV screen while subconciously savouring the smell of freshly baked cookies drifting in from the attached coffee shop had no idea that a magical yuletide fairy had once stood exactly where they were stood now.

How could they have known? Nobody in Little Frederick today had ever seen her. She had been true to her word and not come back again. She never relented or wavered, not even once.
The show they were watching was their favourite- The Misfits of Monkdale- and the two friends watched it faithfully together every day at 4pm, as did every other child in their neighbourhood. There were vampires, robots, werewolves, all sorts of strange creatures who graced their screen each day, what was not to love?

"So have you finally decided which Misfit toy are you getting this Christmas? I mean it's Christmas eve, you must have picked by now? I'm getting Vinnie the Vampire plush. He's the best of them all. I've wanted Vinnie ever since I was eight, a long time ago, he's the only one left that I need for my collection to be complete. Save the best til last, that's what I say. Well? Which Misfit will you be opening under the tree tomorrow? Christopher? Well?"
"Connie?" the little girl's mother said, coming into the room. Christopher turned back to the TV.

"It's time for Christopher to go home now, dear. Come on, say goodnight to him. It's Christmas eve and it's almost dark outside. He should get home, his mum will be waiting for him".

"But Mum, there's still a few minutes left of the Misfits of Monk-"

"Connie" her mother said, adopting a sterner tone, "you've seen this episode lots of times. In fact you've seen all the episodes over and over. You know how it ends. You two are Misfits of Monkdale on the brain, do you know that? It's time for Christopher to go home. Come on now, and remember Santa doesn't like it when children argue with their parents"
"We don't believe in Santa" the two children said in unison, quite affronted, "we're nearly ten"

Connie's mother chuckled. "I know, I know. Oh well, it was worth a try. Now Christopher, your mum will be waiting for you for your annual Christmas film, am I right? I'll see you home"

"She can watch it by herself, I don't want to see it. Mum and I aren't on speaking terms, Mrs Banford. I won't watch it. I don't even want to be in the same room as my mum right now" Christopher said with an unmistakable tone of resentment in his voice.

"Christopher!" Mrs Banford scolded, "why would you say such a thing?"

"Because, Mrs Banford, my silly mum left our front door opened while she went to the supermarket. And guess what happened? You know that bandit who has been roaming around the village? That's right. Got into our house. Took all of our things. Everyone last present. Including my Vinnie the Vampire plush. All of it, all gone. We haven't a single gift to open tomorrow. Some Christmas this will be. It's all my mum's fault"
"Christopher Winston Agnatius Nathaniel Riley!" Mrs Banford said, "I can't believe I am hearing this from you. I have known you since you were born and never in all these years have I known you to be so rude or unkind"

"I..I didn't mean.." Christopher started to say, and a look of guilt settled on his face.

"Your mother is a hardworking, caring woman who would do anything for you, and she is one of the best neighbours I have had the privilege to live alongside. Believe you me, she will be more upset that you have no presents to open than you are tomorrow morning. Your mother does all she can for you and I think it's time to cut her some slack, don't you? Anyone can make mistakes, my boy, anyone can leave a door unlocked. It can happen even to the most careful of us"
"You're right, Mrs B. It's just that I really wanted that Vinnie the Vampire plush. I've been waiting on it all year, and.."

He looked up at Mrs Banford's angry face and decided to say no more about it.

"I'll go now. Goodnight and happy Christmas to you"
When Christopher had left Connie came into the cafe to help her mother clear up the last few dishes. There was an hour to go until closing time and it was rare indeed to see the usually packed-to-capacity coffee den so empty, but it was Christmas eve and most people were at home preparing for the next days celebrations.

"Goodness gracious me, mum, you certainly put poor Christopher in his place" Connie said, "I do hope you didn't hurt his feelings. I'd be horribly upset too if I wasn't getting my Vinnie the Vampire toy"

"Nevermind Christopher, my dear" Mrs Banford said softly, "forget about him for a second. I have something to tell you, and I'm afraid it's rather bad news"
Connie felt as though she had gone into a trance as her mother started to speak.

"You see, I also made a mistake" she said, "I too, like Christopher's mum, left the door unlocked. It was only for a minute, I didn't suppose anything would happen. This has always been such a safe place to live.."

Connie braced herself for the worst of it.

"The bandit struck us too, Connie. I'm sorry. It happened yesterday and I didn't sleep a wink last night, I've been pondering over how best to tell you. We have no Christmas presents this year, my dear"

Mrs Banford kept talking but Connie didn't hear anything after that.
Connie walked silently into the next room, trying desperately to hide her upset.

"Oh Connie" her mother said, "don't walk away, I'm sorry"

"I'm fine, I'm fine" Connie called back, "it's okay, mum. It is, really. I understand. Don't blame yourself, I'm okay"
She stood behind the door of the living room, downhearted and hidden from her mother's sight. "I'm fine" she called out one last time. But of course she didn't feel fine at all. Christmas was ruined.

There was a knock on the door outside and Connie was grateful when her mum went to answer it, she needed space, some time alone to feel sorry for herself.
In the small house across the street Christopher joined his mum in front of the TV.

"Mum? Mind if I join you after all?" he said. He had given Mrs Banford's words some thought when he'd gone home. He had decided she was right and he was being unfairly harsh.

"I'd be delighted, son" his mother said, and she motioned for him to sit next to her, "in fact it would make my Christmas"
"Sorry I blamed you, mum" he said, sitting down.

"Let's not dwell on it" his mum said softly, "the important thing is that you've had a change of heart, and now let's enjoy our Christmas film"

"You can thank Mrs Banford for my change of heart" Christopher said, "she said mistakes can happen to any of us, anybody can leave their door unlocked. I have to admit she's right. Remember the time I left my pet rat's cage open-"

"Oh, oh, please, don't mention that terrible incident" his mother said, she shuddered even now. "But yes, Mrs Banford is a wise woman indeed, and a good friend to us. My heart breaks for her and little Connie as much as for you and myself this Christmas"

"Huh?" Christopher said, puzzled, "why?"

"Mrs Banford told me this morning, son, that they also fell victim to the bandit. Unfortunately we won't be the only family in the village tomorrow morning without Christmas gifts to open"
Meanwhile Connie stood in front of her window watching the falling snow. She could hear her mother chatting to the cafe's most valued customer, old Benjamin as he was known, in the next room. He often had an annoying habit of calling into the coffee den just as it was about to close, but the Banford's didn't mind, cause everyone loved old Benjamin, and usually Connie was delighted to hear his silly jokes and recieve the sweets he carried around in his shirt pocket but today she didn't feel like it.

She stayed by the window on her own.
"Another cinnamon cookie, Ben?" Mrs Banford said. "Another cup of coffee?"

"No, no thank you" old Benjamin said, "something's the matter, isn't it? I've known you a long time now, Avril. You don't seem yourself today. What is it?"
She sighed and sat down opposite him. "The bandit, Ben. He got us too. Everything, took it all"

Old Benjamin shook his head, "not another one"

"Another?" Mrs Banford asked.

"The bandit got me too" he said. "But I'll be okay. I stay with my daughter in Bristol for Christmas every year as you know. I'll have a good dinner, some songs by the fire, I'll be alright. I wish I could do something to help you and Connie but alas the bandit stole even my wallet, for now I have the 80 pence in my pocket for this coffee and no more"

Connie continued to look out the window, her pity for herself grew by the minute.

And then something peculiar happened.

There was a sparkle outside the window.

Albeit so faint and so brief that she missed it. But it was there nonetheless.
Seconds later the sparkle appeared again and this time Connie couldn't miss it. She froze in awe at the scene outside.

The yuletide fairy had returned, and her glorious blue wings dazzled just as brightly as they had all those years ago. She was magnificent. A truly magical presence.
Old Benjamin stood up and prepared to leave.

"The coffee and cookie are on the house by the way, Ben. Don't you dare try to give me your last eighty pence" Mrs Banford said.

"You're a good soul, Avril" Old Benjamin said, "thank you. You are so kind to all of us here in Little Frederick. I do hope someone will repay your kindness one of these days. If only the yuletide fai..."

"Mum! Mum? Mummmm!" a sudden shout came from the next room.

"Don't interupt, Connie! I'm talking to Ben" Mrs Banford yelled. "Sorry, Ben. As you were saying? The yuletide what, now?"

"Nevermind" he said. He felt foolish for even attempting to mention it. It was an old story that his great grandfather had once told him. He had never mentioned it to anyone for fear of how ridiculous it sounded. He silently chastised himself for nearly saying such an absurd thing aloud. A yuletide fairy, indeed. "Pah" he said. The sentimentality of the season had obviously gotten to him. "I'll go now, Avril. It seems silly to wish you a merry Christmas, given the circumstances, so I'll bid you farewell until the new year"
"Mum? Can't you hear me? Mum? Mum?" Connie continued to shout. She dared to glance sideways, only for a second. "You know, Ben, I think I will have a happy Christmas despite all of this" Mrs Banford said, stopping again in her tracks as they went towards the door. Connie was still shouting in the background. "It sounds so cliche, but I have my health and a roof over my head, don't I? A wonderful daughter, even if she is getting on my nerves right this second", she laughed, "I have good friends and neighbours and loyal customers like yourself. Really, things aren't so bad"

"Then I wish you a merry Christmas, after all" old Benjamin said, and they wished one another good evening.
Mrs Banford returned to the living room.

"Now, missy. What is so urgent? What were you calling me for?"

Connie stared out the window. The fairy was gone. "I...I just wanted to tell's snowing outside" she said feebly.

"Oh. Ah, okay" Mrs Banford said. She chose not to state the obvious- that it had been snowing for days now. "Well now, isn't that nice?"
Half way through the movie Christopher's mother was sound asleep and the sound of her snoring was drowning out the sound from the TV.

Christopher shrugged, he had seen the film loads of times. He got up and went into the kitchen.
When he returned from the fridge he saw an unexpected guest.

He stared. And he stared some more. A nervous lump grew in his throat.

"She's not real" he muttered to himself, "she's not real, she's not real, she's not real"

"I am the yuletide fairy" the fairy began, ignoring his denial of her existence. She lacked the enthusiasm she once had. Too many people had disappointed her over the years, not just in Little Frederick, she had learned there were ungrateful folk far and wide, and as the twentieth century moved further and further she seemed to find more and more of them. Or was she being unfair? She didn't know anymore. "I am here because you need something from me. What is it?" she went on. And even to her own ears her voice sounded flatter, a little deflated.

"Well I guess it's worth a try" Christopher said to himself, "I am certainly dreaming all this, so what harm can it do?"

He went on to explain in great length about the robberies and his lack of Christmas presents.
"Step back" the fairy said, and she swished her wand, illuminating the dim kitchen, "I will grant your wish"

It was the first time she had performed magic in Little Frederick in one hundred years, and in fact she had performed it here in this very kitchen for two hungry newlyweds from a world gone by.

"Let's hope you are more generous and goodwilled than your ancestors" she added.

"Good grief!" Christopher exclaimed. A brand new Vinnie the Vampire plush was sitting on the floor right in front of him. "How? Why? Huh? How did that get here?"

He mumbled and stuttered and could hardly form a complete sentence. He was beside himself with amazement.
"Now please, young man, I ask that in return for this gift I have granted you that you will be a good neighbour. Help the people around you, treat them kindly, be a good friend. It isn't too much to ask"

"I will" Christopher said, "I will. I promise"

"Don't promise it if you don't mean it" the fairy said, but Christopher insisted he did mean it, and so the fairy bid him farewell.
"Connie, I'm going next door to the cafe for a little while. Surely there's something in the cupboards in the kitchen that I can use to make some semblance of a Christmas dinner for us. I won't be long"

"Ok mum" Connie grunted.
And then in another fantastic flash of blue, she appeared again, the elusive yuletide fairy.

She landed in the Banford's living room, as if from nowhere. This time Connie was sure she was not imagining it all.
Connie jumped from the armchair, she ran to the fairy.

"I knew I saw you outside earlier, I knew it. Who are you?" she asked, intrigued.

"I am the yuletide fairy, and you must need something. What is it you need, young lady?"
Connie told her about the local bandit. Like Christopher she talked at length about Vinnie the vampire, nobody having any presents to open and how disappointing Christmas was going to be.

The fairy silently wondered why she had been summoned to Connie and Christopher. They struck her as a little spoiled and rather self centred, and if she was honest with herself she was rather unimpressed with the two of them. But it was not up to her to question why, it was her job to grant wishes, and that is what she would do.
She cast her spell and Vinnie the Vampire landed in little Connie's arms. She caught it, astonished. Like her friend, Christopher, she couldn't quite believe this was all happening. "Be a good neighbour, won't you?" the fairy said flatly, "I must go now. A merry Christmas to you"

"I will!" Connie said with great enthusiasm, "thank you", and the fairy disappeared in a flash.
The night wore on and before long the clock had passed twelve. It was officially Christmas.

Avril looked out at the village for a long time. Lights switched on one by one in the houses on the hills, distant yet just a stone's throw away, she envisioned families opening presents, people rousing from their sleep to mountains of chocolate and mulled wine.

She finally crawled into bed just as the sun rose.
But just like her, someone else in the village hadn't slept. There he was at first light.

It was Christopher, a boy on a mission. His new Vinnie the Vampire was tucked safely under his arm.

The fairy had returned. Just as she had one hundred long Christmases ago, she would never be able to explain why. She had a hunch that she should. And so, that's exactly what she did.

She watched as the boy ran from his doorway towards the coffee den. What was he doing? He was going to brag to Connie, she supposed, "look what I have!" she imagined he would say. He surely looked proud of himself.
And then the fairy heard the click of the coffee den door. Open and shut. Out came the little girl she also granted a Vinnie plush to last night. She too, it seemed, was out to show her friend what she had been granted. "It's all mine" she envisioned her saying, "it's a wonderful Christmas after all"

She listened carefully as the two met on the path, observing from afar.

"Connie?" the fairy heard the boy say.

"Christopher?" came the reply, "YOU got a Vinnie the Vampire?"

"YOU got a Vinnie?" he answered, "but I..."

"Yes" Connie said, "but I didn't get him for myself, I got him for you!"

"And I for you" Christopher said, laughing. "I wished for him so you'd have him"

The two chuckled, smiling widely, Vinnie bears held tight.

"Now what?" they said in unison, "we swap them, I guess?"

They traded the bears, delighted each to have one, and equally that each other had one. Their generosity had paid off. The fairy watched, now it was her turn to be astonished.

They hadn't wanted the bears for themselves. They had wanted them for each other.
The fairy walked closer. She had been wrong, all wrong about them. She smiled at their selfless and innocent act of friendship. Their requests hadn't been for themselves at all. These two friends had wanted one another to recieve the covetted bear.

The fairy had become accustomed to assuming the worst from people over the years, but she shouldn't have. She knew that now.
"You have restored my faith in the people of Little Frederick" she told the two friends, appearing before them. "Have a wonderful Christmas. And I don't need to say good neighbours. I know you will be. I know you are."

"You're going now?" they asked, "Merry Christmas!"

"Yes, but I have something else to do first. Bless you all", and she flew away.
Connie's mother need not have worried through the night about putting a dinner together.

"I just..I just..I woke up and this was here, all of it" she explained to Connie, Christopher and his mother. "Some good soul, some well-wisher, has obviously left this for us. I can't believe it"

"We won't have to have cookies and coffee for Christmas dinner after all, mum" Connie said.

And they ate and ate, with Christopher and his mother- their neighbours- sharing at their table. The fairy set off into the white sky that cold Christmas of 1990 feeling renewed as soft snow drops began to trickle past her. The mothers would never know it was she who had left them the meal, it would be a Christmas tale in their homes for years to come- the mysterious appearance of the finest Christmas dinner they ever feasted on- and it would always end the same way. In a shrug. "We still don't know how it happened" the women would say, the first signs of gray hair appearing, their children long since grown up, "it all just appeared, as if by magic".

Thank you for reading.
The End.

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