"Let's make a snowman Harry." Lucy shouted as she swung back and forth on the garden gate.
"Great idea. Where is the best place to build him Lucy?" Harry shouted back.
"I think," Lucy said, then quickly looking around pointed ahead of her and shouted, "Here beside the gate, then he will be able to greet all our guests over Christmas."
And so the two children set to work gathering armfuls of snow and building their snowman by the gate.
"We won't be much longer. Can we finish our Snowman, Please!" they begged.
Mum left the children to it, but as like all mothers do, kept a watchful eye from the living room window.
A short while later they stood back and admired their creation.
"He looks quite splendid." Lucy declared.
Harry however was not as impressed, "I think we shall have to find a nice hat and scarf for him. Perhaps we could borrow one of Granddad's?"
"Maybe?" Lucy retorted.
"Evening Children, that's a rather fine snowman you have there." A deep voice spoke from across the garden fence.
The children turned around and found an old man leaning across the fence, he was wearing a tall hat and had on a heavy coat and a large scarf swirled several times around his neck to keep the chill out. He had a jolly face with rosy red cheeks and a red nose from the cold.
"Thank you." Lucy replied politely.
Harry felt he had to air his dissatisfaction and declared "I don't think he's quite finished yet, Sir!"
"Indeed young man, I would have to agree with you. He is after all missing his bell." the old man replied.
"His bell!" the children uttered in surprise.
Shaking her head Lucy retorted, "I don't think snowmen have bells, i think you're confusing them with reindeer."
"Not at all," the old man continued, "Snowmen always have a bell at Christmas. It's tradition you know. I don't know exactly when it started but a long, long time ago there was a man who travelled all over the country selling bells from his large sack. He desperately wanted to return home for Christmas to spend it with his wife and children, but it started to snow quite heavily and with a storm approaching he couldn't find his way. He came across an old barn and decided to shelter there.
A beautiful angel appeared in his dream and told him she had been sent with a special message that he would indeed be able to spend Christmas with his loved ones. He insisted that with the storm and heavy snow falling it was impossible for him to find his way. The angel told him not to worry and that he would find his way with the help of his bells.
A loud bang woke the man as the wind caught the barn door and swung it with a loud thud. He jumped up and ran to close the door. The wind howled loudly around the barn and whistled as it blew through the holes in its walls. The snow was billowing in all directions as it danced in the undulating wind.
He returned to his corner and settled himself again. However, he couldn't find his sack. He looked everywhere, even searching the straw thoroughly. It was then he heard it; a chiming in the distance.
He went to the door and looked outside. In the distance he could hear it clearer now, it was definitely a bell. He decided to leave the barn and travel in the direction of the chiming bell. At times when he thought he was lost he would hear it again. After a little while trudging through the snow he found himself at a crossroads. He looked about at the little cottages nearby but there was no steeple to house a bell. It was then he spotted the Snowman standing proudly in front of a tiny cottage and there in his hand was a bell.
He approached the snowman and although he felt a little foolish he said "thank you".
Tipping his hat to the Snowman he continued on his journey, and so it was, all the way home for the bell maker. He found his way there safely and spend Christmas with his wife and children.
A splinter of light fell upon the children and the snowman as Mum opened the door and called to the children.
"Come along now, you're tea is ready. You can finish the snowman tomorrow."
"We're just coming," Lucy called back at her mother, "we'll be right there."
"We have to go in now, but thanks for stopping and telling us the story," Harry said to the old man.
"That's alright Children," the old man said as he started to walk away, "oh and Happy Christmas to you," he shouted back.
The next morning after opening their presents and having breakfast the children ran outside to play in the snow and finish their snowman.
To their surprise they found their snowman wearing a tall hat and he had a long brown scarf wrapped around his neck. But most surprising of all in his hand he held a small golden bell.
Story © Angelic Gifts/Cora de Burca 2014