Gaby Book 15 ~ Friends ~ Chapter *27* Drea’s First Christmas

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*Chapter 27*

Drea’s First Christmas

Of course Drea Rose was too young to understand what was going on around her, next year perhaps, but it didn’t stop her being entranced by the twinkling lights everywhere. For her part, Bernie was determined that her daughter’s first Christmas would be special, even if it would be restrained. Indeed money was tight, she got some from the SS but she was squirreling away as much as she could ready for Germany.
“What about this?” Cheryl Rose asked of her daughter.

“It’s a lot of money for something she won’t get much wear out of.”
“You’re probably right, oooh that’s nice,” the elder Rose exclaimed pulling the quilted romper from the rail.
“Mum, she’s six months, she’s only just crawling.”
“Mark my words, you’ll soon be wishing she can only crawl, you were walking under a year.”
“Was not!”
“Well okay, not exactly walking exactly but certainly toddling, she’ll be the same.”

Cheryl was frightened for her daughter and grandchild, the Social Services were paying her family far too much attention, there was clearly a hidden agenda. She’d heard the stories of what amounted to State sponsored abduction and adoption – supposedly to protect the children. Protect them from what? Less intelligent parents? Poverty? It was never clear exactly what the grounds were and she’d heard of cases where the adoption had gone bad, the child ending up in care – how was that right?

They weren’t going to deny her at least this, Drea’s first Christmas, whatever happens in the future, they would have their memories. Well nothing is going to happen, things will be fine.

“Come on, gorgeous, let’s get you inside,” Bern told her slumbering daughter as she released her car seat from its restraints.
They’d been out for quite a while, just the women of the Rose household, a trip to do Christmas shopping in Nottingham. Bern bumped the door shut and walked up to the house and inside, Drea still asleep in her arms.
“I’ve put the kettle on,” Cheryl called from the kitchen.
She’d barely put the sleeping child into the pram when the doorbell sounded.
“I’ll get it,” Cheryl called out.

She must’ve been waiting for them, ‘Mike’ of the SS that is; it was nearly five o’clock, not exactly visiting time.
“Oh it’s you,” Bern’s heart sank as her tormentor let herself into the living room.
“Nice day out?”
“It was Christmas shopping.”
“Andrea’s quiet?”
“She’s asleep, it was a long day for her.”
“Do you think taking her shopping with all those crowds was a good idea?”
“She was hardly the only baby there,” Bern pointed out.
“That doesn’t make it right, let’s have a look at her.”
“Do you have to, she’s worn out, she needs her sleep.”
“Trying to cover something up?” the SS officer leapt on Bern’s words.
“Like what?”
“I won’t know unless I check her will I?”
There was no way of winning, Bern sighed and fetched her daughter.

“There’s a parcel on the side for you,” Cheryl mentioned when Bern got back from the Mother and Toddler session.
“That kettle on, it’s freezing out there.”
“Forecast is snow for the weekend.”
“White Christmas,” Bern beamed.
“Are you not gonna look at your parcel?”
“I’m not expecting anything,” she fetched the parcel, the address was printed but there weren’t any stamps on it.
“Must’ve come while I was doing the bathroom, it was on the back step when I emptied the bin,” Cheryl told her daughter.

It took some getting into; whoever had wrapped it had not meant it to open easily. Once inside she found several seasonally wrapped packages, presents, but who from? A further furtle revealed an envelope that as you might guess held a Christmas card.

“So, who are they from?” the senior Rose mother queried.
“Hang on,” Bern opened the card, “Gaby the daft moo, there’s a note.”

Dear Bern,
Frohes Weihnacht!
The two little packages are for you, one from me, the other from Mart. The other stuff is for the babe, can’t have her without Chrimbo prezzies! The bigger one is from the Angels; I think maybe Mart put in too.
Speak soon

The small packages were, well, small, those intended for her daughter somewhat larger and by a quick feel, of the clothing / soft toy persuasion.

“It’s just explaining who they are from.”
“That’s thoughtful of her,” Cheryl mentioned.
“I feel awful, Mum, I sent the Bond’s a card but I didn’t even get Gab a present.”
“I’m sure she’s not expecting one, they know things are tight for you.”
“But I should’ve got them something.”
The kettle started whistling.

Bern opened the card next to her breakfast setting, the Rose’s always had a full breakfast Christmas day, dinner would be late after all.
“Thanks, Mum, Dad!” she fanned out the bank notes, five twenty Euro notes.
“Thought it would be more useful than a new dress or shoes,” Cheryl supplied.
“It is, will be.”

With what she’d already put away this made nearly six hundred euros, not a lot but it was something. Of course she needed some money for January but she wasn’t expecting to be buying much more than nappies and formula.

The packet from Gab turned out to be a pair of pretty silver drop earrings, maybe a bit impractical with a baby grabbing anything in reach but only a mother would think in those terms. Marty’s offering was a nice silver bracelet, plain and simple but definitely a bit classier than the teen trinkets she and the gang had exchanged over the years, this was jewellery to keep.

Of course Drea wasn’t able to actually open her own presents, Mum and Gramps got to do the honours and of course the youngest member of the household had the biggest pile of packages. Well-meaning gifts from neighbours, practical gifts from family, inappropriate stuff from friends. That translated into knitted jackets and mittens, sensible clothing and soft toys of the animal variety.

The baby of course just chuckled and gurgled at everything, the flickering of the TV and tree lights keeping more of her attention. It wasn’t a big event, Christmas in the Rose household, and this year was no different, a diet of TV, overly large dinner, Queen’s Speech before a semi comatose evening in front of James Bond. They’d had their day with Drea, a day to remember, Jack had taken a bunch of photographs, whatever happens in the future no one could take today away.

“You sure, Mum?”
“Go! When was the last time you went out?”
“Not sure,” Bern admitted.
It wasn’t that she hadn’t had invitations, but trips to the pub or clubbing in Mansfield were hardly age appropriate even without the spectre of ‘Mike’ finding out. This invite she could accept, Helen had rung suggesting a trip to Sheffield for a cinema visit.
“Get on with you, enjoy yourself.”
“I’ll try.”

Manda Joyce dropped the two teens outside the megaplex.
“Call when you come out, Jackie only lives around the corner.”
“Okay, Mum,” Helen allowed.
“Enjoy yourselves.”

The girls watched the car drive off before heading into the huge metal clad cube. The place was teeming with families and teens, as busy as any Saturday, everyone trying to fill the time between religious and secular holidays.

“So what’re are we seeing?” Bern asked.
“Not sure,” Helen admitted scanning the options, “Corpse Bride’s on in about ten minutes or the Dukes of Hazard in fifteen.”
“I can’t believe they’ve still got Star Wars on.”

They settled on Corpse Bride, neither girl particularly interested in an hour of car racing and stunts based on a twenty year old TV series. Helen bought a huge cup of cola, Bern got a sack of salty popcorn and they made their way to the auditorium.

“Well that was different,” Bern allowed when they came back out into the entrance area.
“Bit weird,” Helen agreed.
Helen rang her mother to arrange collection.
“She’ll be about fifteen minutes.”
“Fancy getting a burger,” Bern offered.
They set off towards the BK at the opposite end of the entertainment complex.
“So you doing your GCSE’s at the College?” Helen enquired as they walked.
“Not sure I’m even doing them.”
“You have to do them,” Helen opined.
“I missed a lot of school, I’m not sure I can do them.”
“But you had classes in Germany and you know after,” Helen mentioned.
“I’m still behind though.”

Of course it wasn’t just lack of preparation that might prevent Bern’s exam taking. It was tempting to tell Helen of her plans but common sense said not to do it, it might not happen yet.

The queue at the burger place was silly; Mrs Joyce arrived before they were even close to getting served so the idea was put on ice.

“Good film?”
“It was okay,” Helen allowed.
“What did you see then?”
Corpse Bride,” Bern offered.
“It certainly sounds different, so you girls want to eat before we get back to Warsop?”

They stopped at the Harvester just outside Worksop, Bern felt a bit awkward, even more so when Amanda wouldn’t let her pay her share.
“No, Bernie, you’re my guest, you need the money more than I do.”

Maddy Bell 23.02.16

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