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Old Sir Anthony Passmore of Tewkesbury Manor always looked glum, especially at Christmas.

The thought that his grandchildren were coming to stay at Tewkesbury Manor should have made him happy. The problem for Sir Anthony was that the festivities and gift opening reminded him of when he was a six year old boy in 1942. Like all children he had written to Father Christmas. His list had been simple: “Chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates, please”.

Father Christmas, however, had taken a year off from visiting the manor in 1942 as he had in 1943 and 1944 and all the way through to 1948 when Sir Anthony had turned twelve and had become too old to receive gifts from Father Christmas.

His twin grandchildren Tilly and Tommy had not endured the same fate. Quite the reverse, the number of presents they received had made them quite insufferable. Each year they danced with joy and shouted, “Grandpa, look what Santa gave us. Everything we want. Whoopee!”

Sir Anthony pretended to be pleased, saying through gritted teeth, “Yes, whoopee, indeed. I’m so happy for you. Delighted. Of course I am. Thrilled to bits.”

In truth, however, he was jealous and had decided to confront Father Christmas. He wanted to say to him, “Listen here, Father Christmas. It’s all very well the ghastly twins being cock-a-hoop but where are my chocolates? Eight decades I’ve waited. Eight miserable decades!”

For the last few years, Sir Anthony had taken to sleeping in the big armchair by the fireplace so he could catch Father Christmas coming down the chimney. Each time, however, Father Christmas had crept by, cunningly choosing the one moment when Sir Anthony had drifted asleep.

He was determined that this year it would be different and he prepared accordingly. He had a glass of port, a copy of A Christmas Carol and a blanket to keep himself warm.

When it came to their bedtime, Tilly and Tommy said, “Goodnight, Grandpa. See you in the morning after Santa has delivered all of the presents we’ve ever dreamed of. And more!”

‘Spoilt brats,’ thought Sir Anthony. Then, he settled himself in for a long night. He needed to remain alert to catch Father Christmas, so he sipped at his port, opened up Dickens and within five minutes, oh dear, had fallen asleep. Zzzzzz…

The next morning he was awoken by his grandchildren. For once their faces were as long and glum as that of Sir Anthony.

“We got nothing from Santa, Grandpa!” wailed Tommy. “Not even the hoverboard I wanted!”

“Or the cashmere onesie that all my friends have!” cried Tilly. “Santa’s such a meanie!”

Sir Anthony tried not to smile.

“Perhaps, he didn’t come,” he replied, rubbing his eyes.

“Maybe you scared him away by sleeping in that chair wrapped in that smelly old blanket,” yelled the twins. “You’ve ruined everything, Grandpa!”

They turned and ran off to have their breakfast of organic free range eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice.

“Welcome to my world,” mumbled Sir Anthony, shuffling in his chair. Then, he shuffled some more for there was a strange rustling noise beneath the blanket.

“How odd,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the sound of my hip replacement. Or the dog. What on earth can it be?”

Lifting the blanket, he looked down and his face, glum for so long, broke into a huge smile. It was the most wonderful sight he had ever seen. Something he had waited for all his life.

“Chocolates!” he cried. “Chocolates. And more chocolates!”

And it was true. On his knees and around his feet were box upon box of the most wonderful chocolates fit for The Queen. Delicious truffles, rose and violet crèmes, dipped orange slices, exquisite chocolate discs, fabulous Florentines and more, so much more. Father Christmas had finally delivered his presents to Tewkesbury Manor!

“Tilly! Tommy!” he shouted, as excited as a young boy.

“Whadya wont, Gwandpa?” came the reply from the breakfast room as the twins tucked into their grilled heritage tomatoes on gluten-free toast.

Sir Anthony looked down at all the chocolates.

“Nothing, children,” he replied. This was most definitely the happiest moment of his life. “I’m going to have them all myself!”



Find out more about the author at: www.wbkeelingesq.com

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