Our Christmas Story: The Boy, The Polar Bears and The Puffin
By Duncan Tinkler on 15/12/2021
It’s Christmas Eve. Somewhere in the North Pole a little boy wearing blue striped pajamas, an old red dressing gown and threadbare slippers blinks through the blizzard. He knows that a little way yonder he will find a cozy cottage, a herd of magical reindeer and a warming cup of mulled apple juice (Father Christmas is a member of the Kitchen Table Revolution after all).
This is the dream that drives the boy on, through the thick snow and over the ice, when he stops suddenly. Just in time too as he finds himself on top of an enormous cliff. Far below him, as far as the eye can see are the largest number of fully grown polar bears you could possibly imagine.
Despite the fact that the white of the fur blends them into one another and the thick snow, the boy is able to quickly count them all. “228 thousand Polar Bears!” He exclaims. “Blimey, that’s almost exactly equivalent to the amount of plastic that the UK alone is going to needlessly throw away this holiday season. How am I ever going to get past them all?”
Just as he was pondering this question, a sudden gust of wind blew him down the cliff and amongst the polar bears. “Oh goodie,” Said one of the Polar Bears, “I’m ravenous, I could do with a little boy as a snack.”
“Wait!” Said the boy. “Don’t eat me. I would barely touch the sides, and you’ll all be fighting over me. It will end in tears, mark my words!”
“He has a point.” Said another Polar bear. “But like he said, we’re starving. “Well” Said the boy, “There are 228,000 of you here. By my calculations, if you were to eat all the Christmas dinners that will be thrown away this year, you will all be able to gobble up 17 and a half of them each. That’s four million Christmas dinners being wasted, almost a whole Turkey per bear. If you let me pass I will find Father Christmas. He’s magic, he’ll be able to get all these dinners to you as quick as a flash.”
The Polar Bears bowed their heads and parted like the red sea before our little beslippered hero, and on he went. Soon enough the boy found himself at the foot of an enormous mountain. The mountain was so high that the peak of it literally touched the moon.
The boy was just deciding whether or not to attempt to climb the mountain, or if he could find a way around it, when an Atlantic Puffin landed on a rock nearby. In her beautiful beak, the Puffin was carrying a leather bound tube, the kind that important parchments or maps are rolled up and placed into for safe keeping.
The Puffin dropped this tube at the boy’s feet and said “I assume you’re looking for Father Christmas. You’re not far now, just climb this mountain to the moon and you’ll be there.”
“But it doesn’t look very safe,” Said the boy. “I don’t have a rope or anything!”
“Don’t worry about that,” said the puffin, nonchalantly, “That tube by your feet contains all the wrapping paper that will be thrown away this year, easily enough to reach the moon. And enough to wrap your present for Santa I should think.”
“A present for Santa? But I haven’t got him anything!” The boy’s voice high with panic.
“Don’t worry” responded the Puffin, “21 million people will receive unwanted gifts this year. What do you think the mountain is made out of? Just pick one as you go, wrap it up and give it to Santa, he’ll be over the moon. Literally!”
Laughing to himself, the puffin hopped into the air and flew away, leaving the boy with the leather tube and a huge mountain of plastic tat.
The boy opened the tube and found that, contained inside, was indeed wrapping paper. More and more wrapping paper came out of the little tube so, very soon, he was able to start making a rope that, sure enough, was going to be long enough to take him all the way to the moon.
As he climbed he noticed that the mountain was not made of rocks like a normal mountain, but toys, board games, ornaments, scented candles, clothing, and oh so much plastic tat. Everything, the boy noticed, was brand new and still in it’s packaging. Nothing, he thought, was good enough for Santa.
Eventually the boy had climbed to the top of the mountain and was walking on the moon, with just one sheet of wrapping paper left and no gift for santa.
Before the boy were two streets, both with a sign post directing him to Santa’s house. The street to the left was lit by garish Christmas lights depicting famous cartoon characters shoehorned into Yuletide garb. Below these lights were countless shops offering endless discounts. Hundreds of people were thronging in and out of all these shops, staggering under the weight of all the bags they were carrying.
To the right the street was quieter. It was illuminated by gentle candle light, below which were charming stalls owned and operated by independent, local people. The boy could see the care and pride on the stall holders faces as he found himself drifting towards them.
The goods that these people sold were hand made in a sustainable way. They were as useful and beautiful as they were of high quality. Other things being sold on this street were subscriptions to services that people wanted or needed. There were experiences for sale, days out, or weekends away. Theatre tickets or foraging walks. Things that would enrich the lives of both the giver and the receiver. Things like membership to the Kitchen Table Revolution.
On one of the stalls, the boy found a handmade Reindeer grooming kit that he thought would be perfect for Santa. He wrapped it in his wrapping paper and made his way to the house at the end of the street. He knocked on the door. When it opened a light shone so bright he had to close his eyes.
When he opened his eyes he was awake, in bed on Christmas morning. And at the foot of his bed, a stocking full of memories.