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A Christmas Tale

By David Flin

It's the Snow Marine himself.

A Christmas story is, I am given to understand, traditional at this time of year. I am nothing if not a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas, especially with regards to the telling of stories.


Those who are familiar with my work will know of Sergeant Frosty. Indeed, my publishing company is named Sergeant Frosty Publications. Perhaps a bit of background is in order.


Sergeant Frosty came into being over 50 years ago, when I was a young Royal Marine. I was on an exercise in Arctic Norway. I gather that the purpose of the exercise was to see how quickly the northern flank of NATO could be reinforced should that be required.


Which probably made sense. What it meant for me, however, was that my Troop was dumped on a hill in north Norway and told to wait there until reinforcements arrived.


What is meant for us was that we sat around on a hill in north Norway, in winter, waiting.


And waiting.


And waiting.


There’s not a lot to do on a hilltop in north Norway in winter, and all we had in the way of entertainment was some packing crates and a lot of snow.


Boredom and Marines is not a good combination. We converted the packing crates into boards; what would today be called snowboards, although the term wasn’t in use back then. On each board, we built a snowman. I suppose technically they would be snow-Marines. We lined them up at the top of the hill, and then pushed them so that they slid down the hill.


Childish? Yes. Have you met Royal Marines?


Well, the snow-Marines crashed and disintegrated. Inevitably.


All except one. This one survived not one, not two, but three trips down the hill. We promptly decided that this was a Sergeant snow-Marine, because sergeants are indestructible.


And so Sergeant Frosty was created.


There things would have ended, if it wasn’t for the fact that, some 20 years later, Alison and I had a son, Andrew. Which meant bedtime stories. As many people will know, I like telling stories, and this was a perfect opportunity. Thus was born stories of Sergeant Frosty and the toys to hand.


Things would have ended there – bedtime stories of no wider circulation than the household, were it not for an unfortunate medical situation some four years ago. The details aren’t important, other than it required a lot of trips to the local cancer hospital. There was one thing I saw that made me angry.


Children with cancer. That’s just plain wrong. There’s no other way of looking at it. There was nothing I could do to help the children get better, but I had been pondering whether or not to start publishing myself.


That’s what I did, and that’s the origin of Sergeant Frosty Publishing. Books for children and young adults. I make sure that the Children’s Ward at Royal Marsden Hospital gets a free copy of each book SFP produces. It feels like the least I can do.


That’s how SFP came to start, and obviously some of the first stories were about Sergeant Frosty, who had many adventures.


For some reason, most of them were Christmas adventures.


Which brings me to this particular story. It was written while I was going through cancer treatment, which explains a lot of the emotional bits.


However, to get back to the point (which I’ve long since left in the distance), Christmas is a time for Christmas stories, and this short story is a Christmas story. A fuller version can be found, along with other stories, in Christmas with Sergeant Frosty.




The Final Christmas


Sergeant Frosty was lonely. His Diana had died, as humans do. The children, Dai, Eve, and Holly had grown up and left home. Pwff had been put into a cupboard, because the children were now too old to play with her. The delicate Christmas Angel had gone into space with Flash Gordon and some other friends.


Sergeant Frosty was lonely. The letters he received from children around the world didn’t cheer him up as much as they used to. He had always shared them with Diana, but she was gone. He missed her dreadfully. He still turned to say something to her, only to remember that she was no longer there, and he’d feel like crying. He didn’t feel like it was approaching Christmas. The children were well, and they called him regularly, but it wasn’t quite the same.


He was proud of them, but they had their own lives now.


He was just an old, lonely snowman. Maybe he needed a break. He just missed Diana dreadfully.


He’d already thought that. He was getting old and forgetful.


“Yes, we do,” he said out loud. “Snowmen do get old.” He still spoke with Diana.




In the build-up towards Christmas, a snowman stood in the centre of a small village. That’s not unusual. What was unusual was that he pulled his beret straight. Well, not exactly straight. You don’t wear berets straight. He pulled it to its proper position. People were hurrying with their shopping, pre-Christmas tensions evident. Grown-ups tended not to notice Sergeant Frosty, but children did.


“Daddy, can we make a Sergeant Frosty when we get home?” a young boy asked his father as he saw Sergeant Frosty.


“There’s no snow,” the father said.


“There will be if Sergeant Frosty says so,” the boy said, and he waved to Sergeant Frosty.


“There’s no such person as Sergeant Frosty,” the man said. He sounded very tired and sad. “Sergeant Frosty is just a story.”


“Yes, Dad. But there’s good things and Sergeant Frosty is all about good things.”


Father and son took each other’s hand, and Sergeant Frosty couldn’t see who was comforting the other. They were both sad about something. Sergeant Frosty sighed. He had planned to look around the shops, but he understood that there was a higher power driving the story.




Mr Clarke frowned in surprise when they got home. The road and pavement were clear of snow; all the neighbouring gardens were clear of snow. The roof was clear of snow. And yet, impossibly, the front garden had several inches of snow.


“I told you, Dad. Sergeant Frosty can arrange it. Can I make a small Sergeant Frosty?”


“It’ll only be a pretend Sergeant Frosty. Sergeant Frosty doesn’t really exist.”


“Please, Dad.”


“All right, Tony. Do you want me to help you?”


“Dad! You know the rules. Grown-ups can’t help with the first Sergeant Frosty. It’s the rule.”


Sergeant Frosty frowned. Was it? He didn’t remember that rule.


“All right, Tony. Dinner will be in an hour. Come inside if your hands get cold.”


Mr Clarke went inside and, when the door was shut, Tony looked at Sergeant Frosty. “Hello. Are you the real Sergeant Frosty?”




Tony and Sergeant Frosty built a smaller Sergeant Frosty. Strictly speaking, Tony built it, and Sergeant Frosty supervised. That’s what sergeants do. Supervise. Tony chattered away as he built the smaller Sergeant Frosty, and Sergeant Frosty listened.


“Dad said that you don’t really exist. But he’s just sad because the magic went away. He tries really hard, but it’s really hard for him.”


Sergeant Frosty studied the smaller Sergeant Frosty Tony was building. “You’ll need the base bigger if that’s the body. Can’t be top-heavy. Why is it hard for him?”


“Oh, Mum died when I was young. Just before Christmas. She got ill and died.”


Sergeant Frosty felt sad. People shouldn’t die just before Christmas. Christmas was supposed to be about magic.


“Oh, I was too young to remember Mum, but Dad doesn’t like Christmas, but he tries to make it good for me.”


Sergeant Frosty folded his arms. This was wrong. “This is wrong,” he said.


Tony shrugged. “I guess. Dad tries. I try to make things good for him for Christmas, but he’s sad.”


“I see. What are we going to do about it?”


“We?” Tony asked. “When you say we, do you mean, well, us?”


Sergeant Frosty nodded. “What are we going to do to make your Father happy for Christmas?”


“Well,” Tony said, uncertainly. “You are Sergeant Frosty, right? That means you can get someone exactly what they want? What Dad wants is a Mum for me. He misses the old Mum, a lot, but he’s ready for a new Mum. He’s just forgotten how to find one.” Tony spoke with all the wisdom and experience of a seven-year-old.


Which isn’t surprising, because Tony was, in fact, seven.


“It’s time for us to go in for dinner,” Sergeant Frosty said. He wasn’t sure how men found a new Mum. First of all, he’d only found one himself, and that was more like she found him. He didn’t think that trying to make the world miserable and falling in love with the person stopping you was going to work in this case. Secondly, he was a snowman, not a man. Still, it was Christmas and there had to be some magic he could use.


Sergeant Frosty and Tony went inside for dinner.


Once the door had shut, the snowman in the garden blinked, and moved his carrot nose. He wasn’t sure how he’d got here, but he was here now. He wondered what he should do. He moved his carrot nose again. It was quite loose, and needed to be stuck in better. He sneezed. He was a bit cold.




While Tony and Mr Clarke had their dinner, Sergeant Frosty looked around the house. Tony didn’t mind, because it was Sergeant Frosty, and Mr Clarke didn’t mind because he was an adult, and didn’t see him.


Sergeant Frosty knew that you could find out a lot about a person by their house, and he suspected that he would need to know a lot about Mr Clarke to find a new Mum for Tony. He also wondered how real people actually met. Battling each other over ruling the world? Being snowed in at an isolated mountain cabin with all mod-cons and ridiculously photogenic views? Being nearly fatally wounded, then meeting a beautiful nurse who seemingly has nothing else to do other than nurse you back to health and fall in love with you?


Those were probably things that never happen. He looked outside at the garden, which was really tidy and well-cared for. Mr Clarke really loved the garden. Sergeant Frosty frowned. Something was wrong. Hadn’t there been a snowman there?


Obviously not, because it wasn’t there now, and snowmen don’t just get up and walk about.


Sergeant Frosty stood up and walked back to the dining room.


“We need to go to the garden centre,” he said to Tony. Sergeant Frosty knew that the first stage should be to get to a target-rich environment. If Mr Clarke was keen on gardens, he should go where there were women who were keen on gardens. Once there, Tony and Sergeant Frosty could identify a specific target, then ensure they fell in love.


Always keep to a simple plan. It stops things from going wrong.


“Dad, can we go to the garden centre, only I think we need a new tree and maybe some mistletoe. And other garden stuff.”


Mr Clarke thought. “You’re too young for mistletoe, but a tree would be nice,” he said.


They went out to the car, and Sergeant Frosty dived into the back door without Mr Clarke noticing. It was a nice, simple plan. What could possibly go wrong?




Snowman Frosty looked down from the window. He’d been listening carefully. He knew what he had to do and he hurried to the car. Unfortunately, the doors were shut before he got there, and it started to move off. He grabbed hold of the bumper, and held on as tightly as he could when the car drove off.


Still, he knew what he had to do. It was quite simple. What could possibly go wrong?




While Tony and Mr Clarke looked at trees, Sergeant Frosty looked around for a suitable new Mum. It was a difficult choice. He had to be sure that Mum was nice, not married, and would stay in love with Mr Clarke.


The thing is, while Christmas magic can make people fall in love, Christmas magic doesn’t last. If they don’t really love each other, they quickly fall out of love again. That’s what Christmas magic does. It helps people who really love each other realise it, and they have their happy-ever-after.


Like he had with Diana.


He took his coals out of the eye-sockets and polished them, because they had got damp somehow. Once he put them back, he focused on the job in hand.


There was a lady who looked nice who was examining spring-planting seeds. Short blonde hair, a bit short, with a rather nice thoughtful smile. Sergeant Frosty then looked at the lady rather than the seeds. She had short blonde hair, she was a bit short, and she had a rather nice and thoughtful smile. She fidgeted a bit and Sergeant Frosty could see that she was a bit lonely, and very kind. Perfect.


A little bit of Christmas magic, and she would fall in love with the person she was destined to fall in love with.




Snowman Frosty wasn’t sure how he should go about this. He had to find someone to be the new Mum. If they were perfect, everything would work out, but he was a bit hazy on the details.


There was a lady with seed planting tools. Not married, and a nice person. She was perfect. Probably. He didn’t really understand how human love worked and he suspected humans didn’t, either. Still, he suspected they had fun finding out.


Tall, dark hair, and a bit lonely. A bit of Christmas magic, and then she would fall in love.


He sat back to watch.




“Tony,” Sergeant Frosty. “Get your Dad to come to the spring-planting seed section. There’s something there for him.”




There was a problem. The new Mum was speaking with a lady with short blonde hair, and they had fallen in love and were holding hands and looking very happy.






Sergeant Frosty was not amused. The new Mum had gone and fallen in love with someone else. Oh, nice enough for them, and he could see that they were, what was the word? Soul mates. That’s two words.


Back to the drawing board.




Mr Clarke had taken Tony to the coffee shop. It was their routine. Whenever they had finished some shopping, they would have a reward of a drink at the coffee shop.


“Dad, can I have an ice tea as well as a hot chocolate? Sergeant Frosty likes ice tea.”


“Tony, Sergeant Frosty doesn’t like ice tea, because there is no such person as Sergeant Frosty.”


“There is,” said Sergeant Frosty. “He does, I mean, I do like ice tea.” He remembered the first time he had ice tea, back when he was a villain trying to make Christmas miserable and when he first met Diana. They fell in love, and he became Father Christmas rather than a villain.


The woman serving at the counter put three cups on to a tray. “We’ve always got a free ice tea for Sergeant Frosty,” she said, and looked straight at him.


He looked straight at her, and she looked straight back and nodded. “Drink it while it’s cold.”


Nice woman, thought Sergeant Frosty. Was she the one for Mr Clarke? Hang on, she had looked at him, but only children could see him, so that meant …


“Hang on,” she said. “Only children can see Sergeant Frosty, so that means … Gosh. I’m going to have to stop off at a chemist because I think I’ve got a very special Christmas present for my Geoff. That’s a wonderful present, thank you, Sergeant Frosty.”


Married, thought Sergeant Frosty. Bother. That’s not what he meant when he said he wanted Mr Clarke to meet a new Mum.


Tony and Mr Clarke sat down at their usual table, and Sergeant Frosty sat next to Tony. This wasn’t as easy as he remembered. He stared at each woman in the shop, but none of them was right. Some were married, some not very nice people, some very old, and none were just right.


He needed to shift the odds, somehow.




Snowman Frosty was outside the shop. He knew that none of the women inside were right, so he needed to shift the odds. Those inside needed to leave and new women put in. Only, how? He wasn’t used to Christmas magic.


Then he saw a young girl looking at him. The young girl was with her mother, who was really ugly. She didn’t have a carrot for a nose, for a start, and her eyes were a gentle, kind blue, not lumps of black coal. Really ugly. OK, she was pretty for a human, but rubbish as a snowman. Woman. Still, maybe Mr Clarke would prefer his new Mum to be a pretty human than a pretty snowman. Woman.


“Mummy, can we go in and have a drink and get an ice tea for Sergeant Frosty?”


Snowman Frosty nodded approvingly. He liked this girl.




Sergeant Frosty glared when they came in. A woman, with a girl, about 7 years old. The girl was 7-years-old, not the woman. That wasn’t important. They had come in with a snowman pretending to be Sergeant Frosty. That was outrageous.




“Excuse me, all the other tables seem to be taken. Can Mary and I share your table?”


Sergeant Frosty had used a bit of elementary Christmas magic to arrange that there were no other seats.


“I’m Teresa Howes,” the woman said. Sergeant Frosty noticed that she had a kind voice. More importantly, Mr Clarke had noticed as well.


Now Sergeant Frosty needed to have a word with the imposter. “Do you know that impersonating a Sergeant Frosty is a serious crime? There’s only one Sergeant Frosty, and that is me.”


“No,” said Snowman Frosty. “I don’t really know anything, except that Tony made me, then Christmas magic brought me to life.”


“Well, it’s wrong. I’m Sergeant Frosty,” said Sergeant Frosty. “I’ve got the beret.”


“I know. You’re my hero. All my life, I’ve wanted to be just like you.”


“And how long is that?”


“Nearly four hours. That’s a long time for a snowman on a warm day.”


Then they both heard Mr Clarke say: “The trouble is, I don’t think there’s magic in Christmas anymore.”


“We’ll soon see about that,” Sergeant Frosty and Snowman Frosty said in unison. They both turned and cast special Christmas magic.


Unfortunately, they bumped each other, and the Christmas magic missed.


Well, it didn’t exactly miss.




Tony and Mary giggled at a half-told joke, like they had been best friends forever. Mr Clarke and Miss Howes were talking about boring adult stuff.


“My Dad needs a new Mum,” Tony said.


“My Mum needs a new Dad,” Mary said.


They looked at each other. They knew what they would get their parents for Christmas.




“Dad, can Mary and her Mum come over for tea? Please?”


“Tony, they have probably got better things to do. We only met them yesterday, and they probably have things planned.”


“They haven’t. Mary said that they weren’t doing anything much and they’d be having pizza for dinner, and that Mum, her Mum, that is, had been thinking of calling to say thank you for the coffee yesterday, only she got scared, and Mary and I have a lot we want to talk about, because we’re kind of sharing ideas about Christmas presents, and she says their Christmases are always quiet, and please, I mean, it’s only asking them, and if they don’t want to, they can easily say no, and then nothing is different to what it is, but if they say yes we can have a good time and I know you like Miss Howes because you smiled a couple of times at things she said.”


“I’ll think about it,” Mr Clarke said. Then he sighed. “Is there something else you want to say?”


“Um, I kind of already asked them. At least, I asked Mary, and she asked her Mum, and she said yes, and they’re kind of coming.”


“I see. When will they be …”


The doorbell rang.


“… arriving?” Mr Clarke finished.


Tony ran to the door and opened it. “Come in. Dad will get you some tea, Miss Howes. Mary and I will go upstairs and play so you and Dad can talk together and stuff, and Dad said it would be nice if you stayed for dinner because he’s a good cook, only he doesn’t tell anyone, but he watches cooking programmes and he uses recipes and knows how to change them to make them better, and we’re going upstairs to leave you and Dad alone together.” Tony and Mary ran upstairs.


“I’m sorry,” Mr Clarke said. “Tony’s a bit excitable. He and Mary seem to get on well together.”


Upstairs, Tony and Mary decided to play a game. The game they decided to play was sneaking down and listening very hard to see if their parents were going to kiss and fall in love and get married. They knew the Rules.


“What do you do for a living, Miss Howes?”


“Teresa, please. I play the violin, but I haven’t done any since Mary was born. It’s hard to manage an orchestra schedule with a child. I teach music now. What about you, Mr Clarke?”


“Robert, please. I’m quite lucky. I blow things up. Sometimes I electrocute people. Last week, I burnt down a house.”


“Um,” Teresa said.


“I’m a science technician at the High School. I prepare the experiments for the teachers.”


“And burning the house down?”


“For a forensics class. I made a doll’s house, and set fire to it. The students had to work out where the fire started.”


“Wow!” said Mary. “That sounds great fun.”


“Shhh!” said Tony, very loudly. “They’ll hear.”


Teresa and Robert shook their heads.


“Do you think he’ll ask her to stay for dinner?” Tony asked. “It’s cottage pie.”


“Shhh!” hissed Mary. “He’s got to, because I’ve never eaten a cottage before, and it sounds great.”


“It’s not made of real cottages. Dad had to change the recipe, because he said you can’t buy cottages from the butchers.”


In the living room, Robert looked a bit apologetic. “Tony gets a bit carried away. But there is plenty if you and Mary want to stay for dinner. I usually do enough for two days, so it isn’t a problem.”


Teresa looked a bit thoughtful. “I’ve never eaten a cottage before.”


“It’s not made of real cottages. You can’t buy them from the butchers.”


Outside, Mary and Tony nudged each other quietly enough to wake the dead.




While they were eating dinner, Sergeant Frosty was upstairs, and he looked outside. What was needed was a bit of snow to make it look nice and romantic.




Snowman Frosty made sure the fridge was keeping the ice cream cold. Then he had a brilliant idea. What was needed was a bit of snow outside to make everything look nice and romantic.




Robert felt, well, he didn’t know how he felt. It was nice for Tony to have other people around. All the evening needed was for a bit of snow to make everything outside pretty. Teresa had a very pretty smile.




Teresa felt, well, you know how you feel when you are somewhere that you’ve never been to before, but you feel as though you kind of know it, and that you belong. That was how she felt. All that was needed to make it a perfect evening was a bit of snow, and then Mary could make a little Sergeant Frosty.




Tony liked eating cottages. It would be great if it snowed.




Mary liked the cottage, but she could never eat a whole one. She hoped it would snow, because Mummy might let her make a Sergeant Frosty with Tony. They would be able to make a great Sergeant Frosty.




“All right,” said the weather. “Christmas magic, I know. You lot do realise what you’ve wished for?”


It snowed.




“Dad, can we go out and make a Sergeant Frosty?”


“Please, Mum. We want to build an Australian Sergeant Frosty.”


Upstairs, Sergeant Frosty looked at Snowman Frosty, and Snowman Frosty looked at Sergeant Frosty. “What’s an Australian Sergeant Frosty?”


“It’s either an Emu, or it’s upside down.” Sergeant Frosty shuddered. He remembered the time the Emus kidnapped Diana and him. He sighed. Diana and he had laughed about the adventure for a long time. He still reminisced with her about it, but she wasn’t here anymore.


There must be something in his eye, because it had gone quite dark.


“It’s very dark,” said Snowman Frosty. He looked out of the window. “Sergeant Frosty, um, I think I might have made a small mistake.”


Sergeant Frosty looked out of the window. “We’re upstairs, right?”


Snowman Frosty nodded.


“Oh, dear.” Sergeant Frosty thought that this might be awkward. The snow was piled up right to the top of the window.


Downstairs, Robert and Teresa agreed that Tony and Mary could build a small snowman while they washed up.


“Dad, I can’t open the door. It’s stuck.”


“It can’t be stuck.”


“It is.”


Robert went and tried to open the door. He pushed, and found that it was, indeed, impossible to open. He could just see snow through the edge between the door and the frame. He then went to the window and drew back the curtain. He couldn’t see anything through the window, with snow piled up all the way to the top.


“We’re snowed in,” he said.


“Great!” Tony and Mary said.


“Dad, can Mary stay for a sleepover?”


Robert looked at the snow. There didn’t seem to be a great deal of choice about this. “I’ll think about it. Have you tidied your room?”


“Mum, will we be able to have a sleepover?”


“If Robert agrees,” Teresa said.


Tony and Mary looked at each other and looked really pleased. Teresa had called him Robert, and not Mr Clarke, and she hadn’t thought about it. Things were going well.


“I’ll help Tony tidy his room,” Mary said.


The two children hurried upstairs, leaving Robert and Teresa alone downstairs, apart from Sergeant Frosty and Snowman Frosty.


Sergeant Frosty looked at Snowman Frosty. “Did you Christmas magic snow?” he asked.


“Well, yes, but only enough so they had snow to play in.”


“You have to be very careful with Christmas magic,” Sergeant Frosty explained. “What is your plan now? Now that they are snowed in and stuck here.” Sergeant Frosty decided not to mention that he had used Christmas magic to get snow. That would have confused Snowman Frosty.


Snowman Frosty thought really hard. It was difficult. “Robert and Teresa need to fall in love and kiss and get married.”


“Yes,” Sergeant Frosty said encouragingly.


“I had thought that if Tony and Mary built a Sergeant Frosty, then that would mean that Robert and Teresa would have some time alone together, then they could talk while the children were building and they would then see the Sergeant Frosty, and that would make them want to let the children play a bit more, and eventually they would fall in love. But now they’re snowed in and that plan isn’t possible, because Tony and Mary are upstairs and Robert and Teresa are alone in the living room talking. I’m not sure how I can get the children outside to leave Robert and Teresa alone in the living room where they can talk and fall in love.”


Sergeant Frosty looked for a wall to bang his head against.


Then Snowman Frosty had a great idea. “Flamethrowers.”




“Then they can use the flamethrowers to clear away the snow, then I can Christmas magic a bit less snow and the children can go outside, leaving Teresa and Robert in the living room, so they can talk. It’s perfect.”


“There are just two small things. First, melting all the snow. What are we made out of?”


“Oh. But flamethrowers are precision weapons.”

Flamethrowers are NOT precision weapons. Trust me on this. Do not use them at home. Especially if you want to keep your eyebrows. For reasons of security, the weapon displayed is not a flamethrower. Unless Christmas magic is involved.

Nothing is a precision weapon when children get their hands on them. Trust me on this.” Sergeant Frosty remembered what had happened when the children had taken Pwff to Mount Etna that time. It had been put down to magma coming into contact with snow, but journalists weren’t that bright. They thought that rocks that naturally melt was more realistic than 100-foot-long dragons. At least, they said their editors would think that.


“What’s the second thing?” Snowman Frosty asked.


“Where are Robert and Teresa?”


“They’re alone in the living room, talking.”


“Where do we want them to be?”


“Alone in the living room, talking. Oh. I’ve just realised.”


“At last,” thought Sergeant Frosty..


“All we need to do is Christmas magic turning the snow into ice cream, and then they can eat their way out, and then we Christmas magic what’s left of the ice cream back into snow, and Tony and Mary can ….” His voice faded away. “Or, maybe, well, this is a bit complicated, but maybe we could just leave things as they are, because everyone is where they should be. But there’s so much that could go wrong with that plan.”


“Sometimes, doing nothing is the best magic of all,” Sergeant Frosty said, with a wise nod.




Sergeant Frosty and Snowman Frosty had to get Tony and Mary to settle down and go to sleep. There was a problem. Tony and Mary didn’t feel like sleeping. They felt even less like sleeping when they saw Sergeant and Snowman Frosty.


“Does Sergeant Frosty always come here at Christmas?” Mary asked in awe.


“Yes,” said Tony. “Every year.”


Sergeant Frosty looked hard at him.


“Well, sort of,” Tony explained.


Sergeant Frosty still looked at him.


“Well, he sort of comes when he sends the ballistic missiles to deliver the presents. He kind of visits everyone, so that means ... All right, this is the first year I’ve seen the real Sergeant Frosty. Both of him.”


“That’s something I don’t understand,” said Mary. “Why are there two of him?”


Sergeant Frosty wasn’t sure about this. Snowman Frosty explained. “Tony made me.”


“You made a real Sergeant Frosty!” said Mary. “No-one can make a real Sergeant Frosty. Wow!”


“I’m not a real Sergeant Frosty. I’m a Snowman Frosty.”


“But you walk and talk and you do Christmas magic and Tony made you, and everything. You’re just like Sergeant Frosty, only he’s got a beret, and you haven’t.”


“Only Sergeant Frosty gets to wear the beret,” Snowman Frosty explained.


Sergeant Frosty was silent and thoughtful.


“The thing is,” Snowman Frosty explained. “The thing is, Sergeant Frosty is trying to make your Christmas wish come true, but to do that, we need you both to go to sleep and sleep deeply so that you’re wide awake for when the magic comes true. It can’t come true until you fall asleep.”


Snowman Frosty was surprised when this didn’t calm them down and help them get to sleep. Indeed, it seemed to make things worse. Sergeant Frosty knew more about children.


“I will tell you a bedtime story and then you must sleep. That’s the deal.”


“A story from Sergeant Frosty!” This was the best Christmas ever, they thought. They were wrong. The best part hadn’t happened yet.


“I shall tell you the story of how the Bad People tried to invade Britain by making everyone fall asleep, and what Nessie did to protect Britain.”


After he had told the story, Tony and Mary were almost asleep. Sergeant Frosty wiped away a small tear. He remembered how he had told that story to his children and Diana had done all the funny noises.


“I wish you could always stay,” Tony murmured before falling asleep.


Sergeant and Snowman Frosty tip-toed out. Now they could get on with doing the actual Christmas magic.




Sergeant Frosty looked at the battlefield. Robert and Teresa were in the kiss-zone. Back in the day, he called it the kill-zone, but it was much the same thing. Well, not really, but the tactics were much the same. You lure the target into a position where they have no alternatives other than what you want them to do.


Robert and Teresa sat next to each other on the sofa in the living room. That was good. They were comfortable and talking. That was better. They weren’t kissing. That was not so good. Something had to be done about that.


Mistletoe. If they were under mistletoe, they had to kiss. It was the Rule.


“Couldn’t we just Christmas magic mistletoe there?” Snowman Frosty asked.


“No. Then the Christmas magic is in the mistletoe and it can’t get out and it won’t work. They’ll kiss, but it’ll just be an ordinary kiss, not a forever kiss.”


“What’s a forever kiss?” Snowman Frosty asked.


Sergeant Frosty wasn’t sure how to explain. “Sometimes you find someone who is your forever. The forever kiss is when you kiss and you both realise that you belong together forever. When you know whether they are happy or sad, even when you can’t see them, and that when you’re with them, nothing bad can really happen. It’s hard to understand. Your forever is, well, your forever, and your forever kiss is when you discover that.”


“Is it raining?”


Sergeant Frosty frowned. “I don’t understand.”


“There’s water beneath your eyes. It must be raining.”


“Just concentrate on the mistletoe. Focus on the job in front of you.”


Snowman Frosty thought about the problem. They had to get mistletoe above the sofa without using Christmas magic.


“I’ve got an idea,” Snowman Frosty said at last. “You stand behind the sofa, then I climb onto your shoulders and I’ll be higher. Then you can climb onto my shoulders and we’ll nearly be there, and I can climb onto your shoulders, and I’ll be able to reach from there.”


“What about gravity?”


“What’s gravity?”


Sergeant Frosty sighed. He was about to say something he would regret, but he couldn’t help himself. “Don’t you understand the gravity of the situation?”


Snowman Frosty looked puzzled. Maybe he would understand when he was more than five hours old. “Maybe we could build a tower out of the books.”


“Books are magical. It’s not Christmas magic, but they are very dangerous.”


“More dangerous than a flamethrower?”


“Much,” said Sergeant Frosty firmly. “When someone is reading a really good book, they can lose themselves in it, and really don’t hear when their Mummy or Daddy say that it’s dinner time, even if they shout really loudly.”


“Oh. Could you help me move this step ladder? There might be something under it that we could use.”


Sergeant Frosty waited a moment, to see if Snowman Frosty would spot the obvious.


“I can see a spade,” Snowman Frosty called. “Rather than putting the mistletoe above them, we can dig a hole beneath the sofa and put them beneath the mistletoe.” He thought a moment. “But gravity means that won’t work.”


“What about the stepladder?”


“Oh, we can’t use a stepladder to dig a hole. All a stepladder is good for is climbing up.”


Sergeant Frosty waited. This could be a long night.




The mistletoe was in place. Eventually. There was something else. Snowman Frosty had discovered that if he jumped off the top of the stepladder and landed just right, his head would fall off and Sergeant Frosty would put it back on.


“Will you stop doing that,” said Sergeant Frosty.


“Just one more, please.” Snowman Frosty had learned about gravity.


“We have a job to do.” Sergeant Frosty pointed at Robert and Teresa, who were still talking. Every so often, Robert would move his hand to touch Teresa, but she would move a bit and he’d rapidly pull back. Every so often, Teresa would move her hand to touch Robert, but he would shift position and she would pull her hand back.




Teresa felt, well, she felt at home. Robert was really sweet, really kind, and he was really close with Tony. Mary liked him, as well. That was important. She knew, she just knew, that if they kissed, Robert wouldn’t run away afterwards and tell her to leave him alone, even when she told him about Mary. She was very careful about trusting people now, but she trusted Robert.


What would it be like if they kissed?




Robert realised that he had forgotten how nice it was to just talk with a pretty lady. Teresa was pretty. She had seemed fidgety, very nervous when she first arrived, but now she seemed more settled and relaxed.


She had liked his cottage pie, even though it didn’t have any cottages in it. He wondered if she would like his toad in the hole? Should he use real toads? They were hard to cook properly.


She had a lovely smile and she smiled a lot now that she was relaxed. He wondered what it would be like to kiss that smile.




Snowman Frosty was confused. “Sergeant Frosty, they’re beneath mistletoe. He wants to kiss her. She wants to kiss him. But they’re not kissing. Why not?”


“They’re adults,” said Sergeant Frosty, scornfully. “They don’t think logically. OK. This is your next test. Get them to kiss, but you can’t use Christmas magic. If you use Christmas magic to get them to kiss, it won’t be a forever kiss.”


Snowman Frosty thought very hard. “Mummies kiss it better when people bang their knee. If I get the spade and hit him on the knee, she’ll kiss it better.”


“That’s the wrong sort of kiss. Making it better kisses are, well, that’s Mummy magic.”


“Oh. Adults are really complicated.” Snowman Frosty then had another thought. “Those men kicking the ball kissed each other when they kicked the ball into the net.” He sighed. “I suppose that’s the wrong sort of kissing, as well. It’s really hard.” Then he had a brilliant idea. He climbed to the top of the stepladder, and he deliberately dripped on both Robert and Teresa.


They looked up when water dripped on them. They both saw the mistletoe. They looked at it, then they looked at each other.


“It’s traditional,” Teresa said. She hoped Robert wouldn’t mind. She was scared, though. What if …


“It is traditional,” Robert said. “But, well …”


“For Sergeant Frosty’s sake!” shouted Sergeant Frosty. “Just kiss each other.” Luckily, Robert and Teresa couldn’t hear him.


“Tradition is important at Christmas,” Robert said to Teresa. “Just a little kiss, for tradition. If you don’t mind.”


“I don’t mind if you don’t mind.”


“I don’t mind.”


“Just kiss!” Sergeant Frosty was getting impatient.


Robert and Teresa leaned forward towards each other, and Sergeant Frosty got his Christmas magic ready. Snowman Frosty put his hand on Sergeant Frosty’s shoulder. “Sometimes, doing nothing is the best magic of all,” he said. “That’s what you told me.”


Sergeant Frosty paused, and while he paused, Robert and Teresa kissed and made their very own Christmas magic.


“Gosh!” said Robert.


“Gosh!” said Teresa.


“Gosh!” said Snowman Frosty.


“Finally!” said Sergeant Frosty.


Then Robert and Teresa kissed again. They talked and kissed, and they kissed and talked, for ever such a long time, and then they fell asleep very happy.


“We can’t let them sleep here,” said Sergeant Frosty. “It’s uncomfortable. We must use Christmas magic to put them to bed.”


A few moments later, Robert and Teresa were sound asleep in bed. Teresa was really happy next to Robert, and Robert was really happy next to Teresa, and they slept very, very soundly.




Tony and Mary woke up, both of them full of energy. They had a pillow fight, because they each wanted to make sure that the other was properly awake. Sergeant Frosty came to tell them to be a bit more quiet, and Snowman Frosty came to help them with the pillow fighting.


Eventually, they were out of breath.


“Dad will get us breakfast,” Tony said. “Let’s go and wake him up.”


“Wait a minute,” Sergeant Frosty said to the door closing behind two children and a snowman rushing to Robert’s bedroom. He had forgotten how impulsive children could be. They were just like junior officers.


He followed to clear up the mess that was bound to ensue. Teresa and Robert were just waking up and they both looked really happy, even though they were only just awake when two children bounced on to the bed, excited and shaking them both properly awake.


“Dad!” said Tony. “Does this mean that Mary’s Mum will be my Mum?”


“Mum!” said Mary. “Does this mean that Tony’s Dad will be my Dad?”


Robert glanced at Teresa and she gave an almost imperceptible nod.


Not quite imperceptible enough, and Tony and Mary started bouncing on the bed in excitement.


“This will be the best Christmas ever, Mum,” said Tony.


Sergeant Frosty watched from the doorway. His job here was nearly done. The Christmas magic had worked here, and everyone was very happy.


Robert frowned. “Can anyone else see two snowmen in the bedroom?”


“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Teresa said. “I wasn’t sure if they were strange looking dogs.”


“Dogs!” squeaked Sergeant Frosty, in a voice that was so high-pitched that only dogs could have heard.


“That’s Sergeant Frosty and Snowman Frosty,” said Tony.


“Tony made Snowman Frosty,” said Mary, proudly.


“Well, I made him and Christmas magic made him come alive.” Then Tony had a sad thought. “Does that mean you’ll stop being alive when Christmas is over?”


“Something’s wrong,” said Snowman Frosty. Adults aren’t supposed to be able to see Sergeant Frosty.


“They can only see me, us, when Christmas starts.” Sergeant Frosty knew the Rules.


“But it’s only Christmas Eve,” said Teresa.


“But it’s night in places like Australia and New Zealand and stuff and where’s Old Zealand?” Mary said. She had paid attention at school.


“And that means it’s time,” Sergeant Frosty said. He burrowed inside his body, and pulled out a box with a big red button on. “It’s time to launch the festive ballistic missiles.” He held the box, and thought really, really hard.


Then he passed the box to Snowman Frosty. “Do you want to launch them?”


“Me? Launch the festive ballistic missiles?”


“You’ve earned it.”




From the casinos of Las Vegas, the festive ballistic missiles began their voyages to deliver presents to everyone around the world. Everyone watched as they flew across the sky. Snowman Frosty was more open-mouthed in wonder than anyone.


The children and the adults looked through the windows and saw that the weather had been working hard to get the snow back to the level it should be. They decided to go outside and build a snow kennel for any snowdogs that might come along.


Snowman and Sergeant Frosty started to follow, but Sergeant Frosty stopped at the front door and thought again. He told Snowman Frosty that he wanted a word.


“I want a word,” he said. “You impersonated Sergeant Frosty. It’s wrong to do that. I have to do something about that. You can’t go about impersonating Sergeant Frosty.”


Snowman Frosty sighed. He would stop being alive when the Christmas magic went away, which was sad. But he watched the four humans and they were all very happy. He had helped do that and he felt quite pleased about that.


“The thing is, Sergeant Frosty has to live in a home filled with love and laughter. Without that, well, Sergeant Frosty needs a home filled with love and laughter. This home has lots of both now. Sergeant Frosty has to live here. The two adults will see him, just like the children.”


“I don’t understand. I thought you lived at the North Pole.”


“I did, and that was filled with love and laughter. And man-eating crocodiles, but anyone can make a mistake. But there’s just me there now, and no love and laughter. Sergeant Frosty belongs here.”


Snowman Frosty still didn’t understand. “I don’t understand,” he said.


“Tony made you. You belong here. You are part of this home and you have to make sure its full of love and laughter.”


“And you’ll live here as well?” Snowman Frosty was a bit concerned.


“No.” Sergeant Frosty took his beret off, and held it for a moment, before handing it to Snowman Frosty. “This is yours, Sergeant Frosty. You’re not an imposter, you’re Sergeant Frosty. Christmas, that’s your job now.”


“But I don’t know what to do.”


“You’ll do fine. Love and laughter. You can’t go wrong.”


Snowman Frosty held the beret for a moment, then put it on and became the new Sergeant Frosty. He didn’t know what to say.


Tony and Mary came running over, followed by Robert and Teresa.


“We’ve decided what we want for next Christmas,” Tony said, holding out a piece of paper, but he wasn’t sure who to give it to.


The old Sergeant Frosty pointed at the new Sergeant Frosty. “This is Sergeant Frosty and he’ll be living with you, if you’ll have him.”


Tony gave a piece of paper to the new Sergeant Frosty, and it said: “A brother.”


Mary gave a piece of paper to the new Sergeant Frosty, and it said: “A sister.”


The new Sergeant Frosty looked at them, and scratched his head. “How can I arrange both?”


“You’ve got a few months to figure it out,” the old Sergeant Frosty said. “I’ve got to go now.”


“Where are you going?” everyone asked at once.


The old Sergeant Frosty grinned. “I’ve got an adventure. About time I had this one.”


“An adventure?”


“I’m going exploring,” he said, and started to leave.


“Where are you going?”


The old Sergeant Frosty looked over his shoulder, looking happy. “I’m going to explore the Undiscovered Country. Diana’s waiting there for me. Remember, a home of love and laughter.” He set off down the road.


The wind gave a big sigh, snow swirled around and no-one could see anything for a while. The sigh died away and the snow settled to the ground. When they looked, the old Sergeant Frosty was nowhere to be seen. They stared as hard as they could, but he had gone on his adventure.


“Goodbye, old Sergeant Frosty,” new Sergeant Frosty said. Sergeant Frosty then straightened his beret. It didn’t fit very well, and he somehow knew that berets come in two sizes. “Too small or too large,” he said and everyone laughed.


It was a home full of love and laughter. That was what mattered.



There you have it. Your very own Christmas Tale for this year. Remember, if you see a Snow Marine with a green beret, try offering him a cup of tea. Iced tea, of course.

May you all be surrounded by love and laughter this season.

Comment on this tale Here. Or just leave your own Christmas greetings.




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