Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Natalie.
Natalie was six. She lived in a nice house, on a nice street. She had a little brother called Joe, and a dog called Marmalade. And most of the time Natalie was happy.
She played with her friends. She played with her dog. Sometimes she even played with Joe – when he wasn’t being annoying.
But there was one thing Natalie didn’t like. Getting up.
Every morning her Dad would come into her room and say: “C’mon Natalie, time to get up.” And Natalie would say: “Just one more minute.”
“Now, now, you’ll be late for school,” said Dad.
“Just one tiny minute,” Natalie would say. “Pleeeeeeease…..”
“It’s so warm in bed,” Natalie would moan.
And so it went on every morning. Dad would shout at Natalie to get up. Mum would shout at her. And Marmalade the dog would bark. And Joe would already be up.
And then Mum would shout at her again. And the dog would bark even louder. But Natalie just pulled the cover over her ears.
Because Natalie just really, really, really hated getting out of bed in the morning.
“You know, Natalie, one day you’re going to miss something really important because you stay in bed too long,” said Dad.
As it happened, something very important was about to happen. The nights were getting longer, and the leaves were falling from the trees, and soon Natalie was getting very excited because it was getting close to Christmas.
And she had so many different things she had asked for. She wanted a new game for her Nintendo DS, and a doll that cried real tears, and a new DVD, and lots and lots and lots of things.
Of course, she had to rehearse for the school play – except she nearly missed it because she was sleeping in.
And she had to go and see Santa in the grotto – but she nearly missed that as well because she didn’t want to get out of bed.
“I just don’t know what to do about all this sleeping,” said Mum.
But Natalie didn’t care. If I want to stay in bed, why shouldn’t I? she decided to herself.
So finally Christmas Eve arrived. And Natalie was so excited she found it really hard to get to sleep. She wanted to stay and see if she could really see Santa. She tried ever so hard to stay awake as long as she could.
But eventually, she went off to sleep. And she slept. And slept. And slept.
At one point she heard Dad coming into the room to wake her – but she just rolled over, put the pillow over her head, and went back to sleep again.
Finally she decided she had been so long in bed that it was starting to get boring. She pulled away the pillow and looked towards the window. It was morning.
“Wow, it’s Christmas day,” said Natalie. “I’m so excited.”
She looked towards the end of her bed. But where was the stocking? she wondered. Where had Santa left all his toys?
Natalie jumped out of the bed, and ran downstairs. She was quite out of breath – because she’d never jumped out of bed before.
“Mum, Dad, it’s Christmas,” she shouted.
She glanced around the room. Joe was playing with a new toy car. Mum was folding away some used wrapping paper. Dad was reading a boring looking book with no pictures — in fact, the sort of book Mum gave him every year. And Marmalade the dog was eating something that looked suspiciously like turkey leftovers.
“Mum, Dad, it’s Christmas,” shouted Natalie, even louder this time.
There was a silence. Everyone looked at her – everyone that is except Marmalade who was busy eating turkey.
“It’s Christmas…isn’t it?” said Natalie, more quietly now.
“You mean, it was Christmas,” said Dad.
“You slept right through,” said Mum.
“We tried to wake you,” said Dad.
“But, but, but….” said Natalie.
“I told you you’d miss something important one day,” said Dad.
“It was really good,” said Joe. “We had loads of food, and loads of presents.”
“And I missed it,” wailed Natalie.
And she started to cry, and cry, and cry.
“Sorry,” said Dad. “It also means you didn’t get any presents from Santa. But don’t worry, there will be another Christmas next year.”
“It’s not faaaaair,” wailed Natalie.
“But I always told you you’d miss something important if you didn’t get out of bed on time,” said Dad. “Now, help me clear away all this wrapping paper….”
But Natalie just walked out of the house. She walked through the garden and across the park. When she got there, she cried and cried. She was so upset about missing Christmas and she didn’t know how she could wait for a whole year.
Now, it so happened that it was still very early in the morning and the sun was only just coming up, so it was still quite dark. At that very moment, Santa was just trudging his way across the sky in his sleigh on his way back home. He was very tired and so were the reindeer, because they’d been all around the world delivering presents to all the children. But, even though he was tired, he couldn’t help noticing one little girl sitting on a park bench all by herself and crying and crying.
“Whoa there Rudolf,” said Santa. “I wonder what’s wrong with that girl.”
“Maybe she didn’t like her presents,” said Rudolf, who was hungry and tired, and wanted to get back home to get some food. “Kids today! No gratitude….”
“We better see,” said Santa. And so he pulled the sleigh down into the park.
“What’s the matter?” asked Santa.
But Natalie was so upset, she just kept crying, and her eyes were so full of water she couldn’t see anything.
“Huh, she’s probably upset because she only got one Nintendo, ten Polly Pockets, and a dozen Barbie dolls,” said Rudolph. “Kids today! When I started this job they were happy with a small piece of wood and an orange. The stuff you have to carry nowadays. It’s hardly surprising my back hurts.”
“Didn’t you like your presents?” said Santa.
Natalie rubbed her eyes, and then looked up. Santa was sitting right next to her.
“Oh-my,” she said. “Is it….you?”
“Shhhhh,” said Santa. “You see I’m not really supposed to show myself to children.”
“We’ll be in trouble for this,” moaned Rudolph. “I told you we should have gone straight home.” But Natalie gave Santa a hug.
“You see Santa, I slept right through Christmas….and now I’ve missed it.”
“Oh dear, oh dear,” said Santa. Then he looked towards the house.
“We’ve still got a few things left in the sack,” he said. “So go inside, and check the fireplace in your bedroom in a few minutes.”
“But, but, but…”
“Just go,” said Santa. So Natalie started to walk home and Santa went back to his sleigh.
“We’re not doing another delivery are we,” said Rudolph. “Because, that’s overtime, that’s what that is…I’ll need an extra carrot for that.”
“Oh, c’mon you lazy animal,” said Santa.
And then Natalie came back into the house. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Jingle bells was playing, everyone was wearing hats and her mum had re-heated some turkey and made some fresh roast potatoes.
“We thought we’d re-start Christmas,” said Dad. “Just for you.”
And Natalie jumped up and down and then ran upstairs. Because on the fireplace in her bedroom there was a stocking bursting with presents – there was a doll with real tears, a princess on a white pony, a game for her Nintendo, and, finally, after she had opened all the other presents from Santa there was one special one from Dad – An Alarm Clock!
So for the rest of the day, Natalie had the best Christmas ever.
And do you know what? A couple of weeks later it was the first day of a new term. Dad came into the bedroom. “Wake up, Natalie. Time to go back to school,” he said. Then he looked around.
“Natalie,” he said, sounding worried. “Natalie..”
But he couldn’t see her anywhere. Then he heard a voice from downstairs. So he rushed down to the kitchen and Natalie was out of bed, had put on her school uniform and brushed her hair, and had made breakfast for everyone.
“I’m never going to be late for anything again, Dad,” she said.