Toy Soldier

Mel had always had a perfect Christmas growing up. It was her favourite time of year because her Dad was a soldier and he would always spend it with them, telling them stories and showing them he'd kept the letters they'd written him. But then when Mel was 13, he didn't come home. That Christmas they recieved a letter that her Dad was missing in action. After that it wasn't the same and Christmas was just another day.
But then two years later, something happened no short of a miracle.

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1. The Perfect Christmas

It’s funny you know. How Christmas changes everything. It’s that one time of year when the world isn’t so dreary, when you wake up that Christmas morning to find your street carpeted in snow, the  trees and cars and buildings all lightly dusted like icing sugar on warm shortbread.
Then you run downstairs to find that the living room smells of pine and cinnamon, decorations hung around the walls, origami snow flakes stuck on the windows and the tree just touching the ceiling, the tinsel piled on, baubles dangling with the Angel stuck lopsidedly on the top and stacks of presents piled underneath in bright shiny wrapping paper with silver ribbons tied neatly in a bow.
Then of course you rush outside to build a snowman but then you’re distracted by the bright Christmas lights flashing around your house roof and the inflatable Santa stuck to your chimney with the little wooden picket hammered into the snow saying ‘Santa stop here’. And after you’ve built your snowman, you run into the house greeted by a plate of gingerbread and a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Then you have a Christmas Lunch with all the family you never knew you had who have come to visit from across the globe, with  Turkey and roast potatoes and lots of gravy. Then just when you think you can’t eat anymore, your mum brings forth a little gingerbread house and you each take a piece before pulling crackers and wearing the hats that come with them but they’re always too big, then you ready the corny jokes inside that are only funny because they’re not. And you’re always pleased when you get the little toy inside the cracker even if it’s not very good.
Then it’s time to open all your presents and you got everything you asked Santa for.
Then that evening you curl up on the sofa with your siblings and tune into the Doctor Who Christmas Special on BBC1, hiding behind your pillow but loving every second. Then it’s time for the traditional Christmas films that make you appreciate the magic and wonder of Christmas. And the only thing that makes your Christmas more perfect? Your Dad waltzing in dressed as Father Christmas and you have to pretend you think it’s Santa  because then you get given a special Candy cane for being good all year. That’s the perfect Christmas. At least that’s what I remember. That’s what it was like when I was little. Before Dad disappeared.

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