Christmas Rewrite Extra: The Christmas Shop

Christmas Eve. A couple walk the aisles of a supermarket gathering up the food and frills for a cracking Christmas. Early on in their travels they spot the Christmas baby and scoop that into the trolley. Of course they must have the Christmas baby, what is Christmas about after all? Other things get added. Crackers, decorations, cake, mince pies, mulled wine, turkey, stuffing, sprouts (‘Really? You really want the sprouts? You know what they do to you…’) Little by little the trolley fills up and it’s clear there’s going to be a problem. It’s not big enough. They um and ah for a while, shift a few things around (‘Don’t squash the Yule Log!’) and then the solution becomes clear. Put the baby to one side and pick it up later. Of course. No problem. Why didn’t we think of that earlier? Returning it to the shelf makes just enough room for one of those embarrassing Christmas jumpers, a large box of Quality Street and a few bits of extra tinsel. Perfect. On into the queue (‘I don’t think we’ll risk the twelve items or less till, darling…’) then it’s wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… (‘We’re going to miss the repeat of the 1974 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show…’) wait, wait, wait… then a jolly festive chat to the check-out woman in the flashing Santa hat, load up the bags, wheel them to the car in the trolley and off. Christmas sorted.

Meanwhile, at the end of the day the shelves are cleared. Some of the stock is passed onto the food banks. Other bits are just placed out back with the bins. And later that night, as Christmas Eve is dying under the glimmering stars, and the sound of parties and tellies echoes from street to street, a couple of folks of indeterminate age wander past the supermarket skips and hear a noise. They stop and come closer. There it is. The Christmas baby. They scoop it up, pull off one of their coats though the night is cold, and wrap it around the tiny child. They scuttle to an all-night drop-in, where a few prostitutes and homeless folks are getting festive soup and coffee. There they nurse the child and tell the story of the Christmas baby. And the few stragglers kneel, coo and wonder.

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