‘I can’t stay all day,’ Martha insisted. ‘Just the morning and then I’ll have to go home.’
‘Forget Thomas, for the next few hours at least.’
An explosion of festivity, Theresa’s front room shone. An array of decorations hung everywhere. Merry Christmas Everybody blared out from the record player. Tinsel was entwined around picture frames, doors and even chairs; Tabitha had gone a little overboard in her excitement. In the corner of the room was a light green, plastic tree. Little angels were attached to the branches. Silver and gold baubles dangled, like little orbs of hope. It was beautiful. Disorganised, but Martha loved it all the more. Despite it all looking like it had been thrown together, there was nothing in her own home that would match it.
‘Nanny!’ Tabitha ran towards Martha, her little arms outstretched, ready for a hug.
Martha opened her arms. ‘Oh, my beautiful girl. My you’re getting tall.’
‘Mum . . .’
In an instant they were in each other’s arms.
‘Why are you crying Mummy?’ Tabitha tugged at her arm. ‘Are you sad?’
‘No love, just pleased to see Nanny that’s all.’
The next few hours were the happiest moments of Martha’s whole year. Nobody mentioned Thomas. They ate too much fruit cake and mince pies. Tabitha helped Laura make some Christmas tree biscuits. It was with full stomachs and happy hearts they opened their presents.
Tabitha loved her rag doll and promptly named her Carol after her best friend at nursery. Theresa loved her necklace. As Laura opened her present, she gasped at the tiny silver St. Christopher in the palm of her hand.
‘I can’t, it’s the only thing you have of Granddad’s.’
‘And now it’s yours. I want you to wear it and always know that I love you.’
With Martha’s help Laura placed it around her neck. ‘I’ll wear it always.’
Such a priceless moment was locked away to keep it safe from harm.
Her gifts opened, she gently tore at the wrapping paper, which was covered in angels. The large present, from Tabitha, was a silk scarf – in a pretty shade of yellow. She wrapped it around her neck and gave Tabitha a warm kiss on the cheek. ‘Thank you, my beautiful girl, every time I wear it, I’ll think of you.’
Laura’s present to her mum was tiny. Fragile. She stared at the sparkling robin with a bright red breast. ‘It’s gorgeous,’ she whispered.
‘Do you really like it?’
‘Oh darling, it is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life,’ she said, and pinned it to her shirt. ‘I will keep it close I promise.’