Abigail sat by the window looking out into the street. There was no sign of Preston coming back. Not that she cared anyway. Sighing heavily, she swung her paws too and fro. What was that? Was that tree… moving?
‘Patrick,’ she called, ‘there’s a… a tree coming down the road.’
Clambering up onto the chair, the polar peered over her shoulder. ‘That’s a Christmas tree, someone’s taking it home.’
‘Christmas?’ Abigail remembered Christmas. The shop had been decorated with tinsel and glitter, it had looked lovely. And there was cake, lots of it. She nodded thoughtfully. ‘So…are we getting a tree?’
Patrick coughed. ‘Of course not. We’re bears, we don’t have Christmas trees.’
Abigail clambered quickly to her paws. ‘Why not? I’m a bear that loves Christmas, I’m sure of it.’ Twirling around she jumped down to the floor. ‘And I’m a bear that likes tinsel. Lots and lots of it! Come on!’
‘Oh no,’ muttered Patrick.
The Christmas tree had arrived. As they dragged it into the kitchen, it left a trail of green pine needles all down the hall. It was very big.
The tiger sneezed. ‘Gets up my snout, smells funny.’
‘No it doesn’t,’ said Abigail patting it fondly, ‘it just smells of tree. Ow! It’s sharp.’ Pulling a pine needle out of her paw she kicked at one of the branches.
‘I knew this was a bad idea, here I’ve got some rope, we can pull it up together,’ said Patrick, looping it around the top and pulling it tight. ‘Grigs! Mind your tail, its getting in the knot!’
Once they’d untangled the tiger and put the rope back on, they all pulled hard, the tree was very heavy. ‘Harder,’ panted Patrick, ‘pull harder!’
‘I am!’ said Abigail crossly. ‘I’m pulling with all my paws.’
Grigs crouched down under the chair, the rope wound around him. ‘I’m pulling too,’ he gave a small bounce and the tree wobbled. ‘With all my paws, all four of them.’ He fell over.
‘Just pull with two,’ said Abigail kindly, picking him back up.
Finally the tree was up. There wasn’t much room next to it, it’s branches seemed to stick out everywhere and Abigail looked worriedly at the fridge. Perhaps this hadn’t been her best idea. Would the door open? ‘Should we….’
‘No we’re not moving it!’ said Patrick crossly, trying to wipe green stains from his paws. ‘You wanted it in the kitchen.’
‘It looks lovely,’ said Abigail decisively, ‘where are the decorations?’
Pushing a box towards her Patrick pulled open the lid. ‘Here.’ Looking inside his eyes widened. ‘How much tinsel did you actually order.’
Abigail grabbed the box quickly. ‘Not much, and just a few things to hang on the branches.’
‘Right,’ said Patrick shaking his head, ‘it’s a good job it’s a big tree. Let’s start with the lights.’
When you were a bear, it was very hard to put lights onto a Christmas tree. There seemed to be an awful lot of them and they kept tangling themselves around Abigails paws. Stretching them out again, she laid them along the floor and sat down hard. How were they going to get them on the top, maybe she’d have to climb up. She looked up doubtfully, it was very high.
Licking his lips, Grigs appeared beside her. ‘What are we doing?’ His tail swept too and fro on the floor.
‘Getting the lights on the tree,’ said Abigail. ‘Have you been eating chocolate again?’ She looked at his tail thoughtfully. Then back up at the tree. ‘Grigs,’ she said ‘I’ve got an idea.’
‘Are you sure this will work?’ asked Patrick, ‘it doesn’t look very sensible to me, there must be an easier way.’
Abigail ignored him. ‘Keep going Grigs,’ she called, ‘you’re almost at the top.’
There was a loud rustling and a cloud of pine needles floated down over them.
The tree swayed too and fro. ‘Can’t see!’ said the tiger, ‘all too green.’ The lights tied to his tail twinkled through the branches.
‘Stop there!’ said Abigail decisively, ‘you’re at the top. Tie the end to the branch.’
‘Can you manage?’ asked Patrick anxiously, ‘or do I need to come up too? Don’t fall.’’
‘Fall?’ said Grigs, nervously holding on tighter with his paws. ‘Ow, it’s all sharp.’
‘Now climb down but go round and round,’ said Abigail, ‘it’ll be fun.’
‘Not fun,’ said the tiger, ‘not fun at all. The tree wobbled again.
‘That’s it!’ called Abigail excitedly, ‘keep going! Round and round!’
They stood back and studied the tree. There were an awful lot of lights at the top, not many in the middle and a lot on the bottom hanging down in loops onto the floor. Abigail decided that she didn’t care. It looked beautiful. She rummaged in the box and bought out a red glittery bauble. They had their very own Christmas tree and it was perfect. She wondered if Preston and Uncle Paisley had got her letter, she hadn’t heard anything from them. She wondered if they had a tree too. Pushing the thoughts from her mind she pulled out some tinsel. Their tree would be beautiful.
The empty envelope beside them, Preston and Paisley looked at the picture. Putting on a pair of small glasses Paisley leant forward. ‘Eyes aren’t what they used to be,’ he looked at it quizzically. ‘What do you think it’s meant to be?’
‘I think it’s meant to be us,’ said Preston.
‘Really,’ said Paisley, ‘well I never.’
Preston looked at it quietly.
Glancing at the picture again, Paisley slowly smoothed out his scarf and looked thoughtfully into the distance. ‘You must miss your friends.’
Preston shook his head quickly. ‘Oh no uncle Paisley, it’s very nice staying here with you.’
Paisley sighed. ‘You don’t fool an old bear.’ He patted him gently. ‘Would you like to go back for Christmas? We can always go on holiday again another time.’
Patrick hesitated. ‘But.. don’t you mind?’
‘No,’ said Paisley, ‘not at all. Friends are important things.’
‘Well then…’ said Patrick, picking up the picture and looking at it happily. ‘I think… I’d love to.’