Nathan’s bored. Mum and Dad are busy preparing for the arrival of family and even their dog Jasper isn’t in the mood to play. But Nathan’s about to be given a chore that will give his day a beautiful, magical turn.
Finger-clicking received no response. So, Nathan tried clapping.
"Come on boy,” he chimed. The dog’s ears lifted momentarily, then flopped back towards the rug.
At the far end of the room, Nathan’s Mum was whirling around the dining table depositing placemats.
“Leave Jasper alone,” she called. “Your uncles, Casper and Ralph, will arrive soon. The last thing we need is a dog causing havoc in the kitchen.”
“Not much chance of that,” snorted Nathan, glaring at Jasper, who lay log-like at the foot of the Christmas tree. Nathan threw himself back on the sofa with a huff.
“If you’re that bored, you can set these,” said Mum.
She dropped a box of Christmas crackers onto the arm of the sofa. As she slipped out of the room, Nathan heard her call to his Dad above the blare of the kitchen radio.
Nathan tipped the box into his lap and flipped the front face into view. Through the clear pane he inspected the six glistening crackers inside. His eyes followed the crisp outlines of holly boughs, strands of ivy and dot-like berries. The foiled silhouettes coiled around the crimson cardboard and out of view, returning on the next tube along. Clasping the box, he swung to his feet and traipsed past the framed family portraits on his way to the dining table.
The box rattled as he prised open the lid, hinting at the crackers’ hidden cargo. One by one, he slid the jangling tubes from the box. The light leapt across each cracker as he flopped them down above the placemats. He moved from seat to seat, until all the places were set. However, a lone cracker remained.
No longer buoyed-up by its neighbours, the bright tube slumped against the grey walls of the box. Nathan lifted it carefully from its resting place, then tossed the box aside. He nodded as he counted the place settings once more.
“We’ve got one spare,” he muttered. He smirked and looked at the dog. “Hey Jasper, want to pull a cracker with me?”