What makes your Christmas special?

What makes your Christmas special?
Here are some Christmas stories.  Have you got your own to add?

In Letters from Manchuria Marion Young writes of a Christmas birth:

Faku, 25th December 1936

 Christmas morning – grey, dank at 10 to 5 – I shot up in bed, wakened, I was sure by running feet outside my window … Nothing more happened and I was just dozing off when I heard Fish [the cook] dash in through the back door and down to Mamie’s room. I was out before he had her door opened and heard him say, “Gow’s wife is in the well.” [Gow was the compound caretaker.] I nabbed my flash light and rope, which I had brought for skipping, and Fish disappeared. I had bought about 30ft of rope in a hank – couldn’t get less, and thought it would come in useful for roping my boxes later – thank goodness! There wasn’t as much anywhere about the 2 compounds.

Marion and Mamie

Mamie and I pulled on knickers and Chinese gowns over our nightdresses and fled across to the other compound. The rest is a muddled picture of nightmare and comic effects. She had fallen into a well – must be over 100ft deep – 40 before you reach water, and they had thrown down the bucket to her. We heard her groaning and moaning – the mother-in-law, husband and Fish were shouting encouragements to her – I suddenly realised someone would have to go down to her – the husband was too big for the well mouth – sick feeling in my middle as I decided it must be me – but it wasn’t!

‘Fish’ the cook

Thanks be – Fish was busy getting off his gown, tying a board to the rope end, sat on it, twisted it round his shoulders, between his legs, around his waist and then we started to let him down – flash failed, candle brought, went out – Mamie and I trying to hold the girl up on well rope – Fish shouted he had her and then we started to haul – what a haul! Ivy was there by that time and she, Mamie and I hauled the well rope; two men hauled Fish’s rope – wet rope, hands blistering – God’s will, make the old rope hold! – what a weight, ice slipping under our feet –hey Ivy keep back – you’ll be in on top of them! they’re up – Hey! Stop hauling! One man at the end of Fish’s rope trying to haul both through the wee hole at once – Fish shoves her up – then is nearly drowned himself when some fool empties the whole bucket full of water on top of his face. Girl into the house – back to ours in the darkness for blankets and hot bottles, knocking up the hospital for the nurses and the drawing breaths of relief sitting round a stove in one of our bedrooms trying to sort out what happened.

She – Gow’s wife – is only a youngster – 18, and got very sick in the middle of the night – the mother-in-law, a decent old soul really, got sick of her groans and moans and told Gow to hit her – he didn’t, but said he’d go over to the hospital for medicine – he started out and the mother-in-law said something crossly and the girl, hysterical between pain and bad temper, screamed she was going to kill herself, lifted up her son under her arm and made for the well – fortunately she dropped the kid at the well mouth and jumped in herself. It is quite a small hole, a round lid on the top – Gow had just got his big compound gate open, heard the yells and came racing back – she had decided she preferred to live – Gow dropped the bucket down and got her hauled up a bit, but she dropped back – the mother-in-law held the wheel so that the rope was long enough just to keep her out of the water and Gow ran for help. It must have taken him several minutes to get anyone knocked up to open our compound gates, several more to run a 4 minute walk across our compound and get Fish knocked up – think what water 40 feet down on Christmas day here must feel like! The girl must have been 15 minutes in the water in all – and she’s alive and well.

I don’t know how the ropes held – mine was only a fairly thick skipping rope, and the well rope has been three years in and out of water and lying in the sun. I won’t forget the honour of having them almost up and wondering what under the sun we could get if either rope went and they fell in again. The comic moments – I said there were some, were provided by the mother-in-law – the moment Mamie and I appeared, “The chiaoshihs are here, what are you making that noise about?” went down the well to encourage her. Then, on a fresh outburst of howls, “What! Still shouting! Look at all the trouble you’ve made, getting the chiaoshihs out of their beds on a cold winter morning.” Fish tackling the job of getting himself ready for going down as if he were used to doing it once a week at least – hat and gown off, another small bit of rope tied into mine – that was another of my horrors, I’d seen the knot tied and I couldn’t remember whether it was near his end of the rope or ours – fortunately, we got past it in the first few feet of pulling. Then when he hauled out of the well and the cold air hit him, capering like a mountain goat and asking for his own home shouting, “Ooo! Cold! Cold!” with thirty feet of rope trailing behind him. And the final reaction as I saw Gow passing my window an hour later with the water for breakfast – thank goodness it wasn’t our well she went into!

Fish’s wife and baby son

In a second Christmas Day letter addressed only to her mother, Marion added:

Thought there was no use adding the details in a letter for general family consumption – but the ‘illness’ the young wife was suffering from was a baby! Mamie had been telling me about 2 months ago that with the birth of the girl’s first child they had a terrific time – two days labour up here and then 30 hours by cart to Tiehling where Dr Brown saved both of them by some miracle. She suffered appallingly and the thought of going through it again must have been driving her crazy …

After we had hauled her out of the well and had left her in the hands of the nurses from the hospital, I again said, “Well, if the baby lives after that, it will be a wonder!” But during breakfast the cook said, “Did you know a daughter was born to Gow’s wife half an hour after you got her out of the well?” We heard afterwards the girl hadn’t even warmed up before the child was born – just over 8 months old. New way of having twilight sleep – freeze the patient stiff! Both mother and baby in excellent health thank you!!

 

Perhaps a less extraordinary Christmas Day, 43 years earlier in China, is described by Constance Douthwaite in Letters from Chefoo:

Chefoo, Sunday December 31, 1893

My dearest Papa,
I think you would be interested in hearing about our Christmas day, so I will give you a little account. We all met at the [Chefoo] Girls’ School for dinner, about 45 in number and over 20 of them children. After a grand Christmas dinner it was quite a sight to see how the little folk thoroughly enjoyed the rare treat of almonds and raisins, dates, toffee, oranges, chocolate, etc. I returned home and, wrapping our little maid well up (it was a bitter day, snowing hard and fast) her father carried her over to the school, and to please the children we all had games together till it grew dusk about four o’clock. Amah held baby on her knee and both quite enjoyed the fun. Then Arthur and I retired and I dressed him up as Father Christmas, in a long scarlet dressing gown, trimmed with white wadding, and his head covered with a great white wig and flowing beard and surmounted by a crown of mistletoe. He stuck some wadding eyebrows on and was so transformed I should not have known him.

Constance and Pearl

Meanwhile they had lit up the splendid big tree which was loaded with presents and the children were all sitting, wild with excitement, waiting for Father Christmas to appear and strip the tree. Pearl sat on my knee and was so excited and delighted with all the “pitty sings” and the “lickle boys and girls” she quite forgot to be shy and frightened. I think everyone got at least half a dozen presents each and all; I had two aprons, a capital match holder, an antimacassar, one of Anna Shipton’s works, a silk tie and numbers of cards. Pearl had a little fluffy dog on wheels which barks when pinched, three dolls, two chocolate boxes, two bibs, a harmonicon, a box of bricks and bags of sweets. She trotted quite bravely up the long room when her name ‘Pearl’ was called, and returned with beaming face, hugging her presents in her arms to shew them to Mother.

 

Christmas at sea, described in Strangers in Chaotung by Winifred and Frank Tovey

Frank & Winnie on board TSS Empire Brent

Christmas Day, 1947, on board TSS Empire Brent:

It is a Christmas Day such as one never dreams of seeing at home. The sun is shining brilliantly and the sea is quite smooth and calm, and such a deep blue. Winnie and I are sitting out in the sun in summer attire and trying to imagine what you are all doing at home. Early this afternoon we passed Malta … At 6a.m. some brave people arose and went round singing carols. At 7 o’clock we went to a Communion Service, then we had breakfast – just an ordinary breakfast as served aboard, but a wonderful one – grapefruit, cornflakes, fish if wanted, fried egg and bacon, hot cakes and syrup to follow if tummy permitted, scones and toast and marmalade. It isn’t fair on you for us to enlarge upon the wonderful meals we are having. [Food was still rationed in England.]

After dinner, we plan to have a special little party of our own when we are going to cut the wedding cake and play party games. Last night, the ‘carol party’ sang carols on deck and the crew gave a concert. At dinner, all the children (there are 200 on board) came around and sang carols as we ate.

 

A White Christmas:
In Cor Blimey! Where ‘ave you come from? Winifred Tovey describes the cold winter of 1961 when the family were on furlough in Ockbrook, Derbyshire, England.
The children only knew life in Mysore, South India, where Christmas was warm and usually dry.

Our first snowman

Winnie wrote:
Snow fell that winter, causing great excitement because it was the first time that the children had seen snow. They dashed out into the back yard with their mouths open to catch the snowflakes. As usual they forgot to close the back door and Mother called out, “Close that door, anyone would think you were born in a barn!”

 

Keeping with the India theme, Natalie Wheatley in her book Tobacco Wife writes about Christmas 1967 in Guntur, S India.
Natalie and family were staying with the Pritchards

We met up with Kamala, our borrowed ayah, in Guntur and the children soon took to her. Getting them to bed was not so easy.

“How is Father Christmas going to bring our stockings?” Susina was genuinely worried and Simon soon picked up that he might be missing out.

“I want Pa Kissmass! Pa Kissmass!” he jumped up and down on the springy bed, almost falling onto the polished terrazzo floor.

Looking quickly round the room, I said, “Air conditioner.”

“Con-dish-ner?” they chorused, “Where’s that?”

“Up in the wall, see,” and I pointed to the square box blowing out cool air and a soft hushy noise. “Father Christmas will come through that.”

Children love Anthony Ridgway’s Wizzy books

Anthony Ridgway’s latest story

WIZZY

and the Seaside Adventure

– pure adventure, Enid Blyton-style 

– children on their own quest

– Wizzy, the talking wheelchair with attitude

animal magic with Honey, the dog

– watercolour illustrations by Suzan Houching

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What young readers from a Worcestershire school think …

Dear Anthony
I love the idea of Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure. It’s very creative. My favourite part was where the policemen were puffed out from climbing the cliff.
Other children will love this book and the adventures they have together. All of the characters have great personalities.

The cover is very clever and it shows you the setting of the story. Wizzy is a funny wheelchair with an attitude and your story’s hilarious. Dan is a clever boy, who’s adventurous. James is a kind, helpful and brave boy. Sophie is shy and can get nervous quite easily, and startled. Honey is a very loud, sweet and loving dog.
Keeping writing more stories.
From A

HUMOUR

My favourite character is Wizzy because he was really funny and cheeky.

I found it funny how the wheelchair Wizzy never understood any of the catch phrases.

I found Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure really funny and it’s my favourite book now.

This book is filled with funny and interesting things and I would recommend this book to any child.

I thought that Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure was full of humour.

I like how Wizzy doesn’t understand sayings and phrases.

My favourite part was where the dog peed on Wizzy’s wheel.

I like the part about the dog peeing on Wizzy’s wheel.

My favourite part of the story is when the dog sniffs Wizzy’s wheel, then wees on him.

I really love your book so much. I think it is very good and it makes me and my class laugh a lot.

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ADVENTURE and CREATIVITY

I’m really impressed that you can create a book like that.

Wizzy, especially, was a very good detective in the book.

Pete is really bossy and it’s lucky those thieves didn’t get away. I can imagine the manor house and the pirate coming for me – gives me the chills!

Your story was wonderful. It made me want to have more adventures.

CHARACTERS

I really liked how you put in a wheelchair in to your story, called Wizzy.

 Wizzy is my favourite character because he is like a robot but in wheelchair form. Honey is one of my favourite dogs. Dan is very funny because he really gets into it and can be very clever like Wizzy.

I loved how you made Wizzy so full of himself and how he always has to get everything right. I also liked how you put in more than one character and said not only what the children were doing but put in what Honey the dog was doing.

I liked how Wizzy is funny, Dan is very cheeky, Sophie is very cautious, James is very caring, Pete and Cindy are very mysterious and Honey the dog is very energetic.

In most books I feel like I’m about to fall asleep but with this book I felt very alive. My favourite character was Dan because he was very brave and wanted to get on with everything. I like how you put Dan into a wheelchair.

I really like how Wizzy thinks he’s better than Honey and is jealous of her.

My favourite character is Wizzy because he’s such a bighead.

I loved Wizzy and Sophie because Wizzy is such an amazing, cool wheelchair. I could not believe he could talk. He is also very smart, just like you. I also like the part when Sophie likes Wizzy, but then does not –  it is like changing the weather.

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USING TECHNOLOGY / SURPRISE

I loved the part where Wizzy made a hologram of a pirate and scared Cindy.

My favourite part was when Wizzy used the projector to pretend to be a pirate and scared Pete and Cindy away.

I wonder what it would be like to have a wheelchair like Wizzy – a friend to Dan and is always there for him.

I would like to have a talking chair like Wizzy.

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ILLUSTRATIONS

The illustrations a very cool but my favourite drawing is the pirate.

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NEW ADVENTURES

Your next book could be about Wizzy feeling ill or about Pete and Cindy stealing her.

In your next book I think there should be another kid in a wheelchair.

Your next Wizzy and Dan could go to the zoo.

I think you’re ready to be the greatest author in history.

 

TO BUY THE BOOK click Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

ISBN: 9780993507878

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – book launch 14th July

 

A NEW WIZZY STORY IS ON ITS WAY!

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

 

Last chance to come

to the BOOK LAUNCH of this super new book

Saturday 14th July 2018, 10.30am – 12.30pm, The Point, Eastleigh.

RSVP to Jenny@LittleKnollPress.co.uk 

 

         < launch invitation 

more about the book >

 

 

 

 

You can also watch a video showing Anthony Ridgway and Suzan Houching at work:

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – work in progress

 

To buy the book

Owl at Midnight – BOOK LAUNCH at Waterstones Llandudno

Owl at Midnight
a story of Gwenllian, the lost Princess of Wales

Thursday, 16th November 2017, on the promenade at Llandudno, North Wales, was the first time that author, Patricia Lennan, held in her hand a copy of her historical novel,
Owl at Midnight – a story of Gwenllian, the lost Princess of Wales.

It was a big day . . . the culmination of six years of writing and research of the 13th century events that shaped the life of the last native Princess of Wales, Gwenllian, the only child of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Eleanor de Montfort.

In foreground members of the Copper Writers, Wales. http://www.literaturewales.org/writer-group/copper-writers/

The BOOK LAUNCH at Waterstones, Llandudno, brought together a large crowd to celebrate with Patricia.

 

 

 

It was a long awaited day for members of The Princess Gwenllian Society.

Members of The Princess Gwenllian Society. http://www.princessgwenllian.co.uk/

Patricia spent time talking with the guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patricia gave a short speech about how she had come to write Owl at Midnight.

Her inspiration was a visit to the birthplace of Gwenllian, at Abergwyngregyn, near Llandudno.

Pen y Bryn, formerly Garth Celyn, Abergwyngregyn, the birthplace of Princess Gwenllian.

Patricia explained, “I was shown the room where it is thought Eleanor de Montfort gave birth to Gwenllian, the tunnel which led to the sea and other tunnels which once led to the mountains above.

It was here where my story was born.”

Owl at Midnight tells Gwenllian’s known story; the last native Princess of Wales, she was taken as a baby by King Edward’s men and shut away in Sempringham Priory at his command.

There, in the Lincolnshire nunnery, she grew up and took her vows, never knowing her real identity.

Patricia brings to life a young woman pushing at the boundaries and questioning the rules that confine her. But she doesn’t leave her there. Outside the Priory, hopes rise to restore the rightful Princess to the Principality of Wales . . . and here possibilities open up that could have changed the course of history.

Owl at Midnight
a story of Gwenllian, the lost Princess of Wales
ISBN: 978-0-9935078-3-0

Paperback book, 364 pages, with map, Welsh royal family tree, plus pen illustrations heading each chapter.

Purchase from bookshops and Welsh castles and tourist outlets

OR order from this website
Book price – £9.99
P&p by country. 

If your country is not listed in the postal prices, please email Jenny on mail@littleknollpress.co.uk