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Bertie was a small black rabbit with a white smudge on his nose and a fluffy white tail to match. He lived with Penny and her parents and he was looking forward to his very first Christmas.
Every evening Penny would tell him about hanging their stockings up on Christmas Eve. Penny whispered to Bertie that Santa would be bringing presents and that their Christmas wishes would be granted. Bertie loved that idea because he had a great many wishes. Plus, he had very big feet so he imagined his stocking would be the biggest.
Bertie was a house rabbit, and he spent his days and nights in the heart of Penny’s home. He had freedom, companionship, and above all love. Penny and he would play together every day and he really couldn’t imagine life any different.
One day, about two weeks before Christmas, Bertie was playing in the garden. Penny’s Dad had stacked some old wooden crates and Bertie was trying to climb them, imagining that he was a very brave bunny on a mountaineering adventure. He hopped up on the second crate and peered over the fence. Bertie had never seen over the fence before and he was surprised to see a small wooden box at the end of the garden. The box had mesh at the front and through this Bertie could see a little furry nose. Bertie’s own nose twitched as he looked into the eyes of a white rabbit. Bertie stretched up on his back legs and waved, but the white bunny just turned away. At that moment Penny came over and picked Bertie up to cuddle him.
“It’s so sad Bertie, but some bunnies don’t live in a house, they live alone in tiny hutches.That bunny is called Gertie and Mummy asked the man next door if we can play with her, but he said no”.
Bertie couldn’t believe his ears. They were very large ears so Bertie knew he had heard properly, but he simply couldn’t believe this was how other bunnies lived. He felt very sad, and he wished that he could go and talk to Gertie.
That night as Bertie fell asleep he thought about Gertie. If she had a garden run, a bigger hutch and a companion then life would be so much better for her. If she could live in a house, then that would be the best thing of all.
Bertie decided something had to be done about the situation. But who could help him? Bertie knew of only one person who granted wishes, and that was Santa. The following day while Penny was at school, Bertie sat down to write a letter to Santa. Bertie wasn’t very good at writing but he knew that Santa would understand. He wrote all about Gertie, how sad he knew she was, and what he wanted to happen.
“I know this is a huge Christmas wish Santa” he wrote “but I have been very, very good all year. I didn’t even dig up the carrots that Penny’s Dad grew in the garden and I really, really wanted to”.
Bertie dipped his paw into some of Penny’s paint and stamped a big paw print at the end of the letter. He wrote ‘Mr. Santa Claus, North Pole’ on the envelope and gave it to Penny’s Mum to post. Now, he just had to wait.
On Christmas Eve Mr. Archibald, whose garden Gertie lived in, was finding it very difficult to drift off to sleep. He closed his eyes for the tenth time and tried to count goats. Mr Archibald preferred to count goats to sheep because he felt they had a better spring in their step. All was well until the third goat to jump over the gate turned and looked directly at Mr Archibald.
“Gertie used to be a very happy bunny” the goat said.
Mr Archibald stared at the goat. The goat stared back.
“Did you just speak to me? You can’t have, you’re a goat”. “I’m the goat of Christmas past and I want to remind you how happy Gertie used to be when your son lived at home and he used to spend time with her every day”.
Mr Archibald felt a tug at the bottom of his bed and he sat bolt upright and opened his eyes. He saw a goat pulling at the sheets.
“Hello, I’m the goat of Christmas present and I want to tell you that Gertie is very sad, she spends every day alone”.
Mr Archibald continued to stare. He didn’t know if he was awake or asleep but this was the weirdest day of his life. At that moment his bedroom door was pushed open and a third goat walked in.
“Don’t tell me, you’re the goat of Christmas future”. Mr Archibald said. “Yes I am and I’m not sure why you are so surprised. I want to tell you that you can make a real difference to Gertie’s future. You know what to do”.
At the goat’s words Mr Archibald fell back onto his pillow and didn’t remember any more until he awoke on Christmas morning. Bertie and Penny were just waking up when the doorbell rang. Penny’s Mum opened the door, wondering who could be calling so early on Christmas day. Mr Archibald stood on the step with Gertie in his arms.
“I have to go and stay with my son for Christmas. You said you would like to adopt Gertie one day and I thought I would bring her over today and wish you all a happy Christmas”.
Penny’s Mum smiled, thanked Mr Archibald and took Gertie in her arms. She called Penny and Bertie over.
“Happy Christmas you two. You have a new friend coming to stay”.
As Gertie was placed on the floor she looked around her at the twinkling Christmas tree lights and she felt the warmth of a happy home. Bertie hopped over and pressed his nose against hers.
“Welcome Gertie, Santa visited last night and he granted my Christmas wish. It’s you”.