Christmas has been around a while. Much longer than me… and even longer than her! I mean, I knew that, ’cause we four-legses have been around for a long time too… and we have the stories from the Long Memory of our kind. My mother told me those stories and she says all mothers do that, even two-legses.
She tells me that her mother was around when all the world seemed to be fighting each other… even at Christmas… that her father was away fighting too. She says that it was very different from today, when Christmas seems to be about buying too much and eating too much (not that I mind that last bit myself…).
I don’t think I would have liked the wartime rationing. People ate some very strange things… and meat was so scarce that people even ate rats. A lot of pets were killed because people couldn’t feed them… I wonder how many were eaten too? Over three thousand dogs were sent to war too. For some two-legses, it seemed to give them more of a chance than just killing them. The dogs were used to do many things, not all of them good… but lot of lives were saved because of dogs.
My two-legs’ family kept their dogs and shared their food with them through the war years. That might be why mine is so good at sharing her food… One of them, a stray who adopted my two-legs’ mother when she was a little girl, even looked after her and took her by the hand to the air-raid shelters when the sirens wailed.
War seems all wrong to me. It seems silly that two-legses can say they love a Man whose message was peace and acceptance… and then go off to fight each other. I s’pose if they are defending their mates and pups, you can understand it… but somebody has to start wars and there is never a good reason. And nobody ever really wins. There are some things about two-legses I’ll never understand…
Today’s advent calendar comes from Roberta Eaton, and opens a window on a child’s Christmas in wartime…
Letter to Father Christmas, North Pole – December 1942
Written on behalf of Elsie Hancy by her sister Jean Hancy
15 December 1942
Dear Father Christmas,
I hope you don’t mind that my sister, Jean, is helping me to write this letter. I only started school in September and I haven’t learned all my letters yet.
It is school holidays now and my sisters and I are having a nice time at home. After we have finished writing our letters to you, my older sisters are going to make a paper chain to decorate the front room. Mother has given them some old paper which they will cut into strips and glue together to make the loops for the chain. I am going to watch as Mother says I am too young to cut with scissors.
Mother said that we should all ask for peace for Christmas this year. She is tired of the war and wants it to end soon so there will be more food for everyone and we can have a bigger coal fire to keep us all warm. She says there are severe food shortages in the cities and that we are lucky we live on a farm and have lots of milk to drink. We also have more meat than the people in the cities as Father is able to shoot rabbits when they come onto our farm. I do enjoy rabbit stew, it is one of my favourite meals.
Father says that the Allies are doing well in North Africa and this has given all the soldiers new hope. Father doesn’t talk about the war much but I know he is also hoping it will end soon. I am lucky to have Father at home with us. The fathers of most of my school friends have been called up to fight for Britain in the war. Father is a farmer and it is his job to stay on his land and help to produce food to feed the nation.
I don’t know what it means to have peace. Britain has always been at war since I can remember. Mother says that when the war ends, I will be able to have butter and jam on my bread every day and my brothers and sisters won’t have to go to bed hungry at night. That sounds very nice so I am asking you to please bring us peace.
If it isn’t too much trouble, it would be nice if you could also bring me a doll. She doesn’t have to be new, I don’t mind if someone has loved the doll before me, but I would really like to have one.
Thank you for reading my letter. Please travel safely when you come to England and be careful of the Nazi bomber planes. If you need to you can shelter in our bomb shelter in the garden. I know Father won’t mind.
About the author
Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton).
All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differentiate her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
Find and follow Roberta Eaton
While the Bombs Fell
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
Robbie also writes as Robbie Cheadle
The Sir Chocolate books are a delightful marriage of story, verse and cookery
… a perfect recipe for sharing with children. Silly Willy goes to Cape Town tells the adventures of two very different brothers…and includes five party cake ideas.
You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:
or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at email@example.com.
An Invitation from the Small Dog
If you would like to help Ani make her advent calendar this year, send your letters to Santa, festive memories, short stories, flash fiction or poems to the Small Dog. She will post them every day through December until Christmas…and there are still spaces left!
She would especially like to hear from her four-legged or feathered friends (she has a special place very close to her heart for turkeys)… but she says that as two-legs are better than none, she will accept submissions from humans too. And, in the interests of fairness, even from the odd literary fish or serpent.
To get in touch, please use the form on the contact page or email Ani at firstname.lastname@example.org