The garage seemed so quiet once the Christmas decorations had been taken away.
No more rustling as the tinsel tried to untangle itself and settle in a comfortable position.
No more happy chatter from the baubles as they admired each others reflection.
No more squeals from the Angel as she struggled to reach the top of the box.
No more joyful tunes from the Father Christmas and the Fairy or merry twinkling from the lights. Everyone felt rather lonely.
The Christmas decorations had promised them all a party on their return and were going to share the chocolates that had been left on the tree. They were all looking forward to this, it had become an annual event.
The Pram moved nearer the High Chair and the Cot.
The Bicycles leaned against each other and the Skis slid closer to the sledge.
The silence was broken by the Keyboard who played a few notes from Jingle Bells. The Doll swayed in time to the music.
'My favourite song,' she sighed, 'It's the one that was playing when I was taken out of my box. Oh how lovely that was. I was held up and swung around and admired. Then I was cuddled and put in a soft blanket. I sat in pride of place on a little pink chair. i was carried around everywhere. You wouldn't believe the places I've been. Oh what a pity it all had to end. Shelley didn't want me anymore. She grew up.'
Her voice broke then and a tear slid down her cheek. The Teddy put his arm round her.
'Don't worry Doll you've got me, we'll be fine.'
The Pram spoke up.
'Yes you'll be fine, we all will. On my travels I often heard tales about new homes for toys, where you'll be loved and looked after. High Chair, Cot and me have been to lots of homes already. We are always made so welcome.'
Everyone looked at the Pram. His travels were famous. He told them all such stories, They never knew whether to believe him or not. He was the only one that had been on adventures. The Cot and the High Chair always stayed behind. The Bicycles rang their bells. They were new and no-one knew what to make of them.
'We've been on lots of adventures too. We can tell you lots of stories. '
Just then the garage door opened and knocked one of the wheels of the Pram.
There was a lot of noise of puffing and panting as though something very heavy was being dragged along the floor.
'I don't remember leaving the pram there. By the way Shelley says she'd be glad of the pram, the high chair and the cot for the new baby. She might like her old doll and the teddy too. There they are . They're both in good nick, Shelley always looked after her toys so nicely.
'I can't wait to go out on our new bikes, as soon as we come back from skiing we'll go on a bike ride with the girls.'
'Hey dad, there's my old keyboard. I'll give little Phil lessons shall I? It's perfect for beginners. Now where shall we put these encyclopedias?'
'Over there near that old trunk. After Christmas I'm going to clear that out. I don't even know what's in it. Grandpa's things from the war.'
There was more shuffling and then the door slammed shut.
A cheer broke out and there was lots of excited chatter.
'We're going to a new home. There's a new baby. we'll be all together. Shelley wants us back.'
'We're going on an adventure.'
'We're going skiing,'
'Now everybody remember your manners,' the Pram took charge.
'Let's welcome the newcomers, the encyclo whatsits.'
There was a long silence. Then a deep low voice rang out.
'We are Encyclopedias. We have never been put in a garage before. It is most humiliating for us. There are forty of us and in our volumes there is contained all that it is necessary to know. Every one of our pages is precious and useful. We know everything.'
'OOh,' cried the Doll. 'Maybe you can tell us what's in the trunk. We opened it up once but the things in it didn't want to come out.'
'Of course we can. Let's have a look.'
'Wait a minute,' shouted the Pram. 'if you know everything and are so important why have they put you here with us?'
'I know.' the Keyboard interrupted. 'It's those computers isn't it? The same thing happened to me. They're real show-offs. Always going on about how sleek and smart they are and how no-one can manage without them. They play music all by themselves and know everything.'
'No they don't. We do We know everything. We do we do.' The encyclopedias sounded angry.
The Pram, sensing a difficult situation, rolled towards the trunk.
'Come on please tell us what these things are.'
They all peered inside.
'Oh this is so easy,' said the O to S volume.
' That's an oil lamp to show the way when it's dark.. Next to it that's a sword, a ceremonial sword to wear in a parade. That's a pistol and that's a revolver.'
The A to C volume took over. 'There's a bayonet and a cutlass.'
The L to N volume called out, 'There's a musket and a lance, and some medals.'
The Doll started to cry.
'I'm frightened, I don't like these things.'
The Teddy walked towards the Encyclopedias. He drew himself up to his full height. The red satin heart embroidered on his chest gleamed in the darkness.
'Ok we get the picture. You know everything. I'm sure you know lots of nice things. Maybe you could tell us something else, like a nice Bedtime story now.'
'I'm good at that.' called out Volume A to C. 'I like Bedtime stories. Once upon a time ...'
There was a sudden crash and the door opened again.
the two boys came back in.
'I told you we shouldn't have brought the encyclopedias down. Grandpa only believes them. He doesn't trust computers. Every Christmas it's the same. He wants to play all those general Knowledge board games and quizzes and only he knows the answers. Did you see his face when Mum said that a musket was a Sicilian wine and a bayonet a French dessert? '
' By the way he told me to donate the contents of that old trunk to the museum. I wonder what's in it. Just a lot of junk if you ask me. Things to do with the war he's always going on about.'
' Now what was it that he wanted to look up? He always wins everything, every Christmas. I think they taught things differently when he was at school. He's eighty-eight can you believe it? He knows more than any of us.'
The garage fell quiet once the encyclopedias had been dragged out. The Teddy broke the silence.
'There you are, we're all still useful. We'll be loved again.'
The Doll put her hand on his arm and gazed at him, an adoring look on her face.'
'You know more than all those encyclopedias put together.'
The Pram, the Cot and the Highchair broke out in a cheer.
'Merry Christmas everyone.'