It was approaching Christmas Eve, and Wiggly Wood was completely snowed in, due to the hardest December anyone could remember. All the animals had hidden themselves away to shelter from the harsh biting cold, and even the tickling trees groaned with the weight of the icicles hanging from their branches.
In the tree house, Timbertwig scraped at the frost on the inside of his bedroom window, to gaze at the wintry landscape outside. He had been checking their letter to Father Christmas, but the deep snow was making him nervous. How would they be able to post it?
“Oh Abigail, whatever are we going to do?” he sighed. “Christmas can’t be cancelled, can it?”
Abigail didn’t reply. She wasn’t ignoring him. After helping Timbertwig write the letter, she was now snuggled up in her little bed, and absorbed in the book she was reading.
Timbertwig poked open her little front door with one finger, and almost prodded her out of her bed.
“Excuse me!” exclaimed Abigail, throwing back her covers, “I was trying to read.”
“Well excuse me too,” said Timbertwig, grinning. “But please, Abigail, I haven’t posted my letter to Father Christmas, and it’s snowing so heavily now I’m worried that Christmas won’t even happen this year.”
“Of course it will,” said Abigail begrudgingly.
Timbertwig spotted the little book that Abigail had dropped on her bedroom floor and carefully picked it up.
“A Christmas Carol!” he laughed, “I’m worried about posting our list of presents, and you’re looking at a book of songs!”
“No, it’s not songs, actually, it’s a story,” said Abigail. “It’s a ghost story, for your information, and a pretty scary one at that!”
And, with a kick of two of her eight legs, she snapped the door closed again, leaving Timbertwig holding the letter.
Granny Knot, meanwhile, was trying to rustle up a meal, from the meager ingredients she had left in the cupboard. There’s not much you can make with dried frogs’ eggs past their hatch by date, pickled maggots’ knees and a rotting pumpkin left over from Halloween, she thought. Perhaps, she mused, the cobwebs she had brushed aside might come in handy for her biscuit mixture.
She was going to bake some mince flies, but the little jar she kept on the top shelf was nowhere to be seen.
“Why, I’ll bet it’s that pesky spider,” she muttered. “ This is the last straw. She’s had her final warning and now she’ll suffer the consequences!”
Granny stormed up the stairs and burst into Timbertwig’s bedroom.
“Right, where is she?” demanded Granny.
“Where is who?” replied Timbertwig, hastily trying to hide his letter.
“Don’t you play games with me boy, you know very well who I mean,” snapped Granny Knot.
“Oh Granny, I wish that you two would just get on for once!” But Granny Knot wasn’t listening to Timbertwig.
“ Where is that spindly, meddlesome, horrible, devious PESKY SPIDER?” she continued, so incensed she could hardly breathe, as she reached out for Timbertwig’s hat.
Before Timbertwig could even call out a warning to Abigail, Granny grabbed his hat, knowing full well that she would be inside. Then just as she was about to leave, she spotted the piece of paper on which Timbertwig had been writing his Christmas list.
“And what is this?” she barked, as without her spectacles, she couldn’t read a thing.
“It’s a letter to Father Christmas that Abigail and I …”
Timbertwig was cut short, as Granny Knot grabbed the letter and screwed it up into a ball.
“Letters to Father Christmas? Bah Humbug!” growled Granny as she marched back down the stairs, the hat in one hand, and the letter in the other. Timbertwig chased after her, only to see Granny opening the front door to waist-deep snow. Undeterred, Granny hurled the hat as hard as she could. It landed some distance from the tree house in a clearing in Wiggly Wood.
Then, without a second thought, Granny tossed the ball of paper into the open fire, and chuckled as it caught alight and fluttered up the chimney.
“Granny, what have you done?” cried Timbertwig, running towards her.
Granny Knot spun around. “Ha. Well that’s got rid of your scribbling and that pesky spider! One less mouth to feed this Christmas,” she cackled, as she brushed the palms of her hands to show she was rid of her nemesis once and for all.
Timbertwig wasn’t the only one to be shocked by Granny’s actions. His hat had landed upright on the forest floor, and jolted Abigail clean out of her little bed.
“What on earth is happening?” cried Abigail. “Has there been an earthquake?”
She pushed open her little front door and struggled to get her bearings. The light bouncing off the snow caused her to squint her eyes, so it took a while before she could focus on the tree house in the distance.
It didn’t take long for her to realise that this could only be the nasty work of Granny Knot. There was no way she could get back to the tree house through the deep snow, and the cold was starting to bite, causing her spindly little knees to all knock together like wind chimes.
Abigail decided that enough was enough. She slammed her door tightly shut and marched to her bedroom to fetch her book of spells, which was tucked underneath her copy of A Christmas Carol.
“Now there’s an idea,” thought Abigail, and she raised her
magic stick above her head, and waved it in a circle.
“Vizzity, Vazzaty, Piffity Posts,
Frighten old Granny, with three Christmas ghosts!”
The sparkles that burst from her magic stick
flew out of her window. As they hit
the cold air, they changed into
snowflakes, and danced across to the
tree house and disappeared down the chimney.
Abigail was about to close her book
of spells, when she noticed some little
pieces of bread that had obscured some
of the letters.
“Crumbs!” exclaimed Abigail, “Let’s hope that my spell hasn’t been affected,” and she jumped under the covers in her bed, clutching a hot water bottle, in an effort to keep warm.
In the tree house, Timbertwig sat at the kitchen table staring at the feeble offering in front of him. Three stewed acorns and a sausage roll with no sausage, just a piece of soggy pastry. He pushed it away in silent disgust.
“It’s no good moping around like that,” said Granny Knot. “Eat up like a good boy.”
Timbertwig was too saddened to argue with Granny Knot, and left the table to go to his bedroom
“We’ll all be better off without her. You mark my words.” She called after him.
Timbertwig stared out of his bedroom window, and could just make out the shape of his hat in the distance. The snow had started to settle on it, and it was beginning to disappear.
“Oh Abigail, what I am going to do?” he sighed, as he climbed into bed and tried to ignore his rumbling tummy.
As night-time settled across the silent, wintry Wiggly Wood, Granny Knot retired to her room. She snuggled under the covers, still in her dressing gown, and wore three woollen bed socks, two on her feet, and the third on her nose.
She wasn’t sure if she had heard sniffling coming from Timbertwig’s room, but decided it was probably just the wind and so blew out her candle and closed her eyes to sleep.
Suddenly, a low breathy voice pierced the darkness of her room.
“ GrrrraaaannnnyyYY” boomed the deep voice.
Granny Knot’s eyes popped open. She clutched her blankets close to her chin, but could only see blackness. She closed her eyes again, concluding that she must have just been dreaming.
“GGGrrrraaaannnnYYY” returned the voice.
Granny sat up this time, and fumbled for a match to light her candle.
“Wh,wh,who’s there,” she stuttered.
With her candle lit, she gingerly stepped out of bed and began to search the room.
“ GGGRaaannnyyYY KKknnoottT”, called the voice, which she now realised was coming from downstairs.
Nervously, she crept down the stairs and entered the kitchen.
“Wh,wh,who i,i,is it?” she called.
There was no-one to be seen.
“GGrraannyyY,” echoed the voice once more.
“Is this some kind of a joke?” grumbled Granny. “Timbertwig, is this your idea of revenge?”
“Oveeer heeere,” came the reply, from the direction of the food cupboard.
Granny opened the doors, and wasn’t in the least bit surprised to see nothing within. She was about to close them, when something caught the light of her candle.
At the back of the shelf, behind an old teapot, she found a dried up slice of bread.
“Well that’s breakfast sorted anyway,” said Granny Knot, picking it up.
Just then, the bread started to tremble in her hands, and a strange crumbly face began to form on the surface.
“I am the Toast of Christmas Past!”
announced the piece of bread.
“Come with me to the kitchen window.”
“I’m talking to a piece of stale toast,” mumbled
Granny under her breath, as she approached
the window. “Surely I must be dreaming.”
When she looked out of her window, she was shocked at the scene before her. In fact she had to rub her eyes and pinch herself.
Outside it was not night-time, it was daylight. Granny could see her treehouse, festooned with dazzling decorations. She could see Mr Misfit, arriving with a hamper tucked under his arm, and there, looking back at her, she could see herself, along with Timbertwig and Abigail.
“They weren’t such bad times, were they?” asked the Toast of Christmas Past.
“That was the best Christmas of all,” replied Granny, pretending the tear in her eye was just a stray snowflake.
“And all thanks to that pesky spider,” the Toast continued.
“She saved Christmas that year, with her magic spell,” admitted Granny.
“She certainly did, as well as curing your cold-in-the-nose, and all those other spells she created, worked out well in the end.”
The happy scene outside dissolved, and blackness descended once more in Wiggly Wood. Granny turned to say something, but the bread had vanished into thin air.
Granny Knot shook her head and convinced herself that that she had been sleep walking. She collected her candle, returned to bed, and was soon fast asleep.
Time passed in the silence of the dark, with the ticking clock being the only thing awake at this unearthly hour. Granny Knot slept soundly, with the earlier spooky events a distant memory as she snoozed.
Her slumbers were interrupted, as Granny Knot became aware of a strange scraping sensation. She realized that the tip of her nose was being scratched by something that felt like sandpaper.
“Wh..wh..whooo’s there?” she called, fumbling to light her candle.
She then realised what had been causing all the discomfort.
“I am the Toast of Christmas Present,”
announced the slice of brown bread rubbing her
nose. “I’ve got something to show you!”
“You’ve got bread crumbs all over my new nightie!”
Granny Knot replied.
Granny put on her dressing gown, and
followed the Toast who floated towards
the bedroom door.
Stepping onto the landing, she was
surprised to see it was daylight, yet
according to the clock, it was only
2.00 o’clock in the night.
Granny could hear excitable giggles coming from Timbertwig’s room, as she cautiously opened the door.
“What are you two rascals up to now?” asked Granny. But they didn’t reply. In fact they didn’t react at all.
“They cannot see or hear you,” the Toast began to explain. ”What you are seeing are the events from just yesterday.”
Granny could see that Timbertwig was busy writing something . A letter, or a list, perhaps? Abigail, was perched on the rim of his hat, and helping him with suggestions.
“I think Granny would like a nice new scarf for Christmas, to keep her warm,” said Timbertwig.
“Yes, good idea, “ replied Abigail, “and why not some matching gloves to go with it?”
“We also need food,” continued Timbertwig. “Let’s ask Father Christmas to deliver Granny a nice hamper full of warm winter treats, with all of her favourites. This will be the best Christmas ever.”
Granny’s head dropped in shame.
“They were making a list of presents for me,” she realised.
The Toast then urged Granny to follow him downstairs, just in time to see herself tossing the list into the fire, and hurling Timbertwig’s hat out into the snow.
“STOP!’ she cried, but there was nothing she could do to reverse the actions that had already occurred.
Granny Knot’s shoulders dropped as she realised what she had done. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the vision of the day before vanished, and Granny Knot found herself once more in the darkness.
Sighing sadly, Granny was just about to retire back to her bed once more, when she heard a faint scratching noise from outside the tree house.
“Abigail, is that you,” she called, eagerly pulling open the front door. “Come inside quick, you’ll catch your death.”
But Abigail was nowhere to be seen. Just deep, deep snow, as far as you could see. And yet, in the darkness of the night, she could just make out a black, familiar shape.
“I am the Burnt Toast, of Christmas Yet To Come,” groaned the charred slice of wholemeal bread. “Come with me now!”
Granny was so flustered that she was just about to slam the door in the face of this uninvited guest, when she suddenly realised, that she was lifting off the floor, and floating out into the frozen wilderness.
Granny Knot had no control over her movement, and the sinister piece of toast pulled her by some unseen force, until she landed softly in the snow. Infront of her was a strange white shape that looked a bit like an unfinished snowman. She knew all too well what this was.
“Open the door!” demanded the Toast. “Open the door, and see for yourself the consequence of your actions.”
Poor Granny was beside herself. She pulled her hat down over her face, closed her eyes tightly shut, and kept repeating over and over:
“Make this stop. Make this stop. Make this stop….”
Granny’s head rocked from side to side, but she wasn’t outside in the snow anymore, she was rocking her head on a pillow, back in her bedroom.
“Make this stop….make this stop….”
Granny awoke with a jolt, frightened at first, but then told herself that she must have been dreaming all along. She jumped out of bed and peered out of her window. The little unfinished snowman was still there!
With not a minute to waste, she grabbed her coat and boots, and ploughed her way through the deep snow until she reached Timbertwig’s snow covered hat.
Granny brushed it down and tried to peep inside the little window. There was no sign of life. Carefully peeling the hat from the frozen ground she hastened back to the warmth of the tree house and set the hat by the open fire to thaw out.
Opening Abigail’s tiny green front door, she reached inside, and carefully pinched her matchbox bed between two fingers. Her heart sank when she pulled back the covers, and realised that Abigail was nowhere to be seen.
“ What have you done to Abigail?” cried the familiar voice of Timbertwig, as he came down the stairs. “Where is she?”
Poor Granny Knot mumbled and stuttered as a thousand useless excuses flitted across her brain.
“Oh, well….you see…it’s just…” fumbled Granny Knot for the right words.
Just then there was a knock at the front door.
Thankful for the interruption, Granny hurried to open the door, and there on the threshold, stood Mr Misfit, carrying, beneath his arm, the biggest hamper you have ever seen. And there standing on the brim of his hat , wrapped from top to eight toes in a snuggly winter fleece, was……
“Abigail!” cried Granny Knot, who immediately stepped forward to welcome the little spider, but then slipped on the icy step and slid straight into the arms of Mr Misfit, planting big sloppy kiss on the end of his nose!
“Well I never expected such a welcome,” laughed Mr Misfit. “And here’s me thinking I’d forgotten to bring some mistletoe for the occasion.
“Will somebody please tell me what is going on?” implored Timbertwig.
Stepping inside, Abigail began to explain how she had been thrown from her bed by Granny’s actions, and so had hatched a plan to teach her a lesson.
“I decided to send three Christmas Ghosts,” she began.
“But instead, I was visited by three Christmas Toasts!” laughed Granny.
“Mmm, maybe not my best magic moment,” said Abigail, “But it certainly did the trick. And while you were busy, I noticed Timbertwig’s Christmas letter being thrown out of the chimney in a puff of black smoke.”
“Luckily, I could remember the presents in the letter,” she continued, “And so, while you were occupied, I wrapped up warm and set off to find Mr Misfit and his Caravan of Christmas Surprises.”
For once, Granny Knot was lost for words. She opened the hamper to find it stuffed with all manner of tasty treats, and the matching scarf and gloves which she secretly knew Timbertwig and Abigail had wanted to ask Father Christmas to give her, so she pretended to be surprised. But she was also very pleased.
But there was more. A knock at the door, was followed by another, then another, as all the friends arrived to help celebrate Christmas.
Down in the Dumps Dennis was now Up in the Clouds Dennis, as he shared a bottle of mulled wine with the Mushroom Man. Tippy Toad and Shamus O’Twit danced around the Christmas tree, singing “Tonight I’m going to party like its 1983!” Even Muddle the Mole arrived, bearing an advent colander! Well he was short sighted after all.
Timbertwig and Granny Knot gazed out to Wiggly Wood, and were thrilled to see the Tickling Trees lit up with a thousand fairy lights.
“What a wonderful sight,” said Granny Knot, as she lifted Abigail onto the brim of her hat to see the spectacle.
“I thought you hated that pesky spider?” smiled Timbertwig.
“Not this time,” replied Granny Knot, giving Abigail a little kiss on the top of her mop cap.
Timbertwig was so surprised he nearly fell off his stool. But he was the happiest he could remember. He had very special friends and a loving family, and that was the best Christmas present he could ever wish for.
When Granny was giggling with Abigail at a joke of Mr Misfit’s , Timbertwig laughed “I think you have been sipping the Wiggly Wine, Granny.”
“Indeed” she replied passing a mug of cocoa to Timbertwig, and a tiny goblet of wine to Abigail, whilst raising her own glass, “And I’d like to make my very own Christmas Toast” she giggled, “Merry Christmas and God bless you …. every one.”