- Text Size +

Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a little prequel to The Daft Days which I posted last year and plan to put in SDL next week. I haven't posted in here before so hope it works! It's set in 1949, in Dundee.

Kate Kelly woke with a feeling of excitement. For a moment she wondered why, then remembered – it was Christmas Day! She resisted the temptation to wriggle down the bed to retrieve her stocking which, even in the pre-dawn gloom, she could see was full. Lying next to her was her older sister Stella who had not been home when Kate and the family had come back from Midnight Mass. She had obviously slipped into bed very gently to avoid waking the Kelly 'bairn'.

“It's all right, snahba, I'm not getting up any time soon but I want to see what Santa's brought you as well!” came a muffled voice from under the eiderdown.

“Are you sure, Star?” whispered Kate. “It must have been very late when you got in!”

“Twenty past three” yawned Stella, “but two lovely Christmas babes to show for it, a girl at three minutes past twelve and a Caesar boy at half past two, all well apart from one of the fathers who tripped over his raincoat on his way to the waiting room and now has a pudding lip! I've time to dover a while before we go down to Pat and Eileen.”

“Isn't it quiet outside, though? It's nearly eight o'clock and there's hardly a sound and I don't think Ma and Da are up yet, nor Mickey. Isn't it funny having a holiday on Christmas Day?”

“It's always been a holiday for you, snahba!” teased Stella “ School's have been off on Christmas Day since the Boer War!”

“You know what I mean!” giggled Kate. “ I don't ever remember Christmas Day being on a Sunday, that's all. We've always opened our stockings and big present at the back of six so Ma and Da, and everybody, could see them before they went to work. They just had the afternoon off last year cos it was a Saturday. We all went to see 'The Wizard of Oz' and had steak pie for tea. But having everybody at home, well, except Meg, for the whole day is different, isn't it?”

“True”, conceded Stella. “The last time it fell on a Sunday was before the War and you were barely toddling. Some folk are saying it's time Christmas Day was a public holiday, but then we'd probably lose a day at New Year and that wouldn't go down well. Not that it will affect me – babies arrive when they arrive and midwives have to work to suit them. And remember, both Meg and I are off at New Year , which is just as well with her English friends, Miss Wilson and Miss Annersley, coming to enjoy a proper Scottish Hogmanay. I saw Meg just before I left the Infirmary, by the way, she's hoping to get down to Pat's in time for her tea. There was a bad road accident out the Carse, and she was just going into theatre. Said it would be a long job and when it's over she'll get her head down for a few hours. I do miss having her in the house, you know, even if it does mean there's a bit more room in the wardrobe!”

Kate laughed, “You make it sound as if she slept dangling from a coat hanger! It does give us a bit more space though, and I suppose it was a bit infra dig for an almost fully qualified surgeon to be sharing a room with her two wee sisters! Oh, I know what I meant to ask you – when does she stop being Dr Kelly and start being Miss Kelly again?”

“If hospital gossip is right”, said Stella firmly, “she'll have about five minutes as Miss Kelly before she becomes Professor Kelly. She's really something special you know - Sister MacLaren, the senior theatre nurse, told me that my sister could take a pound of mince and sew it into a fillet steak!”

As they talked, Kate was exploring her stocking and a small chocolate Santa, a red crepe Christmas cracker, a Fry's Five Boys chocolate bar, a little paper poke of home made tablet, a tennis ball, an orange, an apple and a half crown piece were piled on the bed. Two carefully wrapped rectangular parcels, one tiny, one a fair bit bigger, waited to be opened.

The larger one was open first to reveal a pristine hardback book with a colourful dust-jacket. “Nancy Meets a Nazi!” crowed Kate. “I've wanted to read that since Meg told us about her friend, Miss Wilson, having all that trouble getting out of Austria and Josephine Bettany's triplets – och, don't come it, you knew what I meant! I keep asking at the Library but they only have one copy and it seems to spend all its time in the Lochee Branch.”

“Lochee - Nae Lichts so it would take them a long time to read it!” said a voice from the door and the girls looked up to see the smiling face of their mother. “Are you pleased with what you got, Katey lass?”

“Mmmm, you bet” smiled Kate, attacking the sealing wax on the smaller parcel. “Did you pack this, Star? It's worse than the bandage you put round my sprained ankle!” “Cheeky wee devil”, snorted Stella. “You just don't deserve to have......”

“....a watch!” screeched Kate, “ It's a real watch!” Her face glowed. At her primary school only the teachers possessed watches but most of her classmates at the Academy, sons and daughters of professional or business people, took their wristwatches for granted. Knowing how hard her parents worked, how tight money was and the sacrifices they had made to support all their children through their education, Kate had never so much as breathed “wristwatch” but she had longed for one with her whole soul. Stella looked at her mother and grinned. All of the family had chipped in for this, just as they had pooled their sweet coupons for the last three months so Mickey, Kate and the three Kelly grandchildren could have a decent amount of confectionery in their stockings.

“It's got a second hand” cried Kate, admiring her wrist and its new accessory.

“Of course, it's got a second hand!” said her mother. “What kind of scientist would you be if you couldn't time your experiments! Now if you are for up, Kate, away and get some breakfast, see what Mickey's got, and the pair of you can get down the road to see what the bairns have found in their stockings. And you, young lady,” turning to Stella, “Eileen is cooking a chicken dinner – no, I don't know where and how she got the chook and I’m not going to ask - and if you aren't asleep in five minutes flat, you will not be tasting any of it!”

As Kate fled to the kitchen where Mickey was whooping over a complicated-looking piece of electrical equipment, Stella cuddled under the covers with a smile. It was nice to have a holiday on Christmas Day!
Chapter End Notes:
"snahba" (snowball) is a pet name for a younger child
"to dover" means to to back to sleep
"Lochee - Nae Lichts." The suburb of Lochee had few street lights in the late 40s

Enter the security code shown below:
Note: You may submit either a rating or a review or both.