Grandpa Webb's blog

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The tooth fairy, the Queen and the Furby - a Christmas tale

Who is this Grandpa Webb?

Christmas for our family starts around early September, shortly after the first bits of tinsel have appeared in the shops, with the decision of who is "doing Christmas." For 2012, Sarah, our daughter, who lives up the road, volunteered.

Grandma in turn volunteered to make some turkey accompaniments such as cranberry sauce, those mini sausages wrapped in bacon (pigs in blankets) and we elected to supply the Christmas pudding and brandy sauce.  The starter, parsnip soup, would be brought by our son and daughter-in-law from Dorset who along with their two boys aged two and five, would be staying with us for three days.

My five year-old grandson had just passed a junior milestone. His first tooth had fallen out that morning, but as it fell into his breakfast bowl of Rice Krispies, and he didn't say much about it at the time, it had accidentally been thrown away with the dregs. However, his resourceful mother had written a note to the tooth fairy expressing the hope that the fairy would overlook the lack of a tooth and leave a coin in the envelope placed under his pillow.

At 5.30am next day grandma and I were informed that the tooth fairy had, indeed, called. We were asleep when a small person crept into our bedroom with an envelope with a £1 coin inside. He climbed into bed on grandma's side and we all attempted to go back to sleep. However, sleep doesn't come easily to those who have just been visited by the tooth fairy. For ages in the darkness could be heard the repeated sound of a £1 coin being withdrawn, examined, and replaced in an envelope.

He must have been hungry: Father Christmas finished the mince pie and Disaronno. The reindeer managed the milk and half a carrot.Next evening, Christmas Eve, we assembled the traditional snack for Father Christmas. We had a bit of trouble with the carrot for the reindeer because the two year-old insisted on eating it. Luckily we had a spare. He also got a Marks and Spencer mince pie, a small bowl of milk and a glass of Disaronno (grandma's idea). Remarkably, by the morning, all were gone (the mince pie was delicious) and in their place the old chap had left mountains of presents.

Our Christmas lunches are eaten in stages. First course is served around 1pm, the main course about 3.15pm and pudding follows when we have all recovered from the main course - usually around 6pm.  

This year, the word got round that grandma wanted to see the Queen's speech. In fact grandma wasn't that bothered, but some of the others were determined that she should see it – possibly because they had taken delivery of a brand new TV the day before. Among other things it responds to voice controls. I must say that walking into a room and saying in a loud voice: "HI TV. SWITCH ON!" or something similar, isn't quite my scene, but never mind.

The technological wizardry of the new TV was being demonstrated ("look at this in 3D!") as the time for the Queen's speech approached.

Nobody owned up to who pressed the wrong button on one or other of the two TV remote controls, but at 3pm, we suddenly had two pictures on the same screen, and no sign of Her Majesty. Lots of frantic button-pressing followed, and eventually a normal picture returned, but by that time, Her Majesty had gone.

Apart from the royal glitch, it was an excellent event. The grandchildren got on pretty well, we played kids charades, my eight year-old granddaughter gave a short violin recital, and her younger sister, whose presents included a small suitcase, packed it full of her worldly possessions and wheeled it around the house all afternoon.  As a bonus we were all speaking at the end.

Furby in action: Very talkative - and you can't switch it off.One of the presents was a Furby, a small owl-like creature packed with electronics that talks, sings, dances and generally makes funny noises. It also responds to how you treat it. For instance, if you pull its tail it gets cross. Grown-ups should be aware that it has no volume control, and you cannot switch the thing off, although if you ignore it, it eventually goes to sleep.

The Furby was brought in to see us around 6.30am the next day. As the Furby and its new owner climbed into the bed on grandma's side, the Furby said: "I love you,” and “I am hungry," in metallic computer-speak. After it had said this about four times and sung a song, I removed the Furby to the landing outside, where it continued to say it was hungry and sing the occasional song, much to the amusement of everyone except me.

Another present was a magic flying saucer. It looked magical on the box, but when you got it out, it emerged that it was attached to a piece of string. The operator fixes the free end of the string behind his ear with a blob of “magic putty.” The idea is to spin the saucer, and manipulate the string so the saucer rises and falls. With luck the audience won’t see the string and will be baffled at your amazing control.

The combination of spinning the saucer, fixing the magic putty and manipulating the string was a bit much for a five year-old, but he found a use for the remains of the magic putty. He accidentally smeared a bit of it on the screen of dad’s iPhone when trying out a new game. Alas it doesn’t come off like magic.

For us the magic of Christmas began to recede after they all went home on the day after Boxing Day. A great event, we decided, well up to the standard of past years. Now to catch up on some sleep…

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