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Nellie Trimm’s Christmas Wish

“Come on Nellie, put the tinsel away and get ready for bed,” Mr Trimm called out, “it's passed your bed time.” Christmas was a fortnight away and the Trimms were proud of their newly decorated, last minute bargain Christmas tree; a very round and full fir from Canada. “Minimal pine droppings,” they were promised by the market man.

“Mom, dad my PJ's are on and my teeth are brushed; can you tuck me in?” came the response from the six year girl with the big brown eyes.

Hugs and kisses were given and after the footsteps of her parents disappeared along the creaky wooden floor of their old Bermuda home, Nellie began to feel sleepy. Until… something noisy, something tuneless and something rhythm less could be heard outside. She sat upright, rubbed her eyes and clumsily went to the bedroom window. The shutters were closed and latched with an old metal hook. The glass was left open a jar, so Nellie being curious and fearless pushed the glass up higher to discover what was causing this offensive noise. She listened closely as the noise maker made its racket, yet was no closer to solving the mystery.

Ever so carefully she lifted the window screen and unlatched one of the metal hooks. With a gentle push of the shutter and the golden glow of the street light into the Trimms' garden Nellie could scan the immediate area for the mystery noise maker. After a moment she focused on something very small sitting on a match-me-if-you-can leaf right under her windowsill. She couldn't believe her eyes, it was the smallest of small, tiniest of tiny Bermuda tree frogs she had ever seen. She had been watching him for a moment when she realised that the smallest, tiniest tree frog was trying to stifle a tearful sniffle.

“Oh my... are you all right?” she called down to the frog.

With a startled look the frog returned, “I don't know.”

He had heard of being able to talk to humans, especially the very young ones, but believed this was a story his parents told to scare him into behaving well.

“My name is Nellie Trim,” she said, “What are you doing? I thought tree frogs stopped whistling at this time of year.”

“Normally we do,” he admitted, “but as this winter is warmer than usual we are carrying on until the temperature falls beneath 68 degrees. Our school is putting together a whistling choir for Christmas Day. I'm desperate to whistle in the choir but my whistle is without any WOW!”

“Oh I see,” said Nellie who crinkled her nose in the way she did when she was trying to absorb information.

“They call me Pea Whistle... because they think I'm tuneless!” he explained. “Everyone knows that pea whistles are only good on sports fields.”

“Who calls you Pea Whistle?” Nellie saw how distraught this tiny noise maker was and she wanted to help.

“My two older brothers, Piper Parker and Penny Whistle Pete. Piper got his nickname because he sounds as good as a bag piper in the Bermuda Islands Bag Pipe Band; and Penny Whistle got his name because he can whistle the range of two whole octaves and can be heard three parishes away! My real name is Percival but when my brothers hear me they tease, 'oh mercy- it's Pea Whistle Percy!' So I thought if I practice and practice I might get chosen to whistle just one tune in the choir.”

Nellie didn't dare tell Pea Whistle how much work she thought he needed, instead she inquired whether he would be practicing again tomorrow. When she was assured that he would be, she offered her help and arranged to meet.

“Remember tomorrow night at six o'clock when the little hand is on the six and the long hand is on the twelve,” she clarified. Then, finally, Nellie closed the window before closing her eyes into a restful night's sleep.

For Nellie, the next day at school was great and passed speedily. She managed to answer two questions in class for which she got a sticker. At the end of the school day when the bell rang she raced up de hill and 'round the corner to get home. She had to ask her parents a question which might help her to help Pea Whistle's whistling. When she had finished taking her dog, Um Um, for a walk she heard her father's bike groaning over the hill. Nellie ran into the house with Um Um at her heels.

She made sure that both parents were within earshot then asked, “Mom, dad how did you both get to be such great singers in our church choir?”

Poor Mr Trimm had barely taken off his helmet, but he knew right away that strong tummy muscles are key to ensuring air entered and exited the body properly for good singing. Mamma Trimm's advice was to make sure that the lips and cheeks were also strong. They guaranteed her that exercises and correct technique could indeed make anybody a better singer.

Nellie thought she could encourage Pea Whistle to do strengthening exercises to improve his whistling. She looked at the clock. The little hand was on the six and the long hand was on the twelve. She went to her bedroom window and looked for Pea Whistle. He was sitting on the match-me-if-you-can leaf appearing hopeful. Nellie keenly shared what she had learned from her parents.

“Sooooo... what do you think?” she asked.

“Well, I know in gym Mr Hop-n-John always wants us to practice jumping and hopping to get us stronger for frodge ball.”

“And I know that when hibiscus petals are torn across the bottom and you blow into the tear that the petal bubbles. This takes a lot of cheek and lip muscles.” Nellie knew this from her experience at botany camp this past summer.

Several nights passed and Nellie listened as Pea Whistle practiced. To get his tummy muscles strong he jumped over casuarina berries and hopped up and down on a bay grape leaf.To strengthen his lips and cheeks he blew bubbles into pink hibiscus petals. It all resembled the exercises Mamma Trimm did at 'boot camp' at the Botanical Gardens. Nellie understood that Pea Whistle was trying very hard. Yet, there was little tuneful progress. Nellie wondered if she could do anything else. Snapping out of deep thought, she remembered that she still had to write her letter to Santa which her mother would deliver to the post box at the Annex Toy Store. In this letter she would ask Santa to bring Pea Whistle a tuneful whistle. This was bound to help! She shared her idea with Pea Whistle and they were both very excited. She would even put the letter in a bright yellow envelope so that it would stand out. Nellie apologised for not being able to listen to Pea Whistle practice over the next few nights.

“I can't listen because I'm going on the walk around St. George's, to Auntie Fern's 'cassava and eggnog' party and to the Santa Claus Parade.”

They arranged to meet in three nights' time. Pea Whistle promised to keep practicing.

Three nights later, on Christmas Eve, Nellie and Pea Whistle met. There had been no mention of her Christmas letter on television but she could tell that Pea Whistle had improved … a little. She must have missed her letter being read.

“Good going,” she encouraged, “you'll definitely get chosen to whistle one tune tomorrow.”

Nellie sounded more confident than she felt. Maybe Santa still had magic left to do for Pea Whistle. She hoped that this was the case.

“Good night Pea Whistle good luck tomorrow.”

“Good night Nellie.”

Nellie was awoken in the early hours of Christmas to a beautifully familiar tune. Was this melody ascending from beneath her windowsill? Opening the shutter she saw Pea Whistle standing proudly amongst a handful other tree frogs. They were in the middle of belting out a rendition of 'Silent Night', except it was anything but silent. Excellent! Santa had come to her rescue. Her letter must have done the trick. Nellie felt extremely happy knowing that Pea Whistle's brothers may never again jeer 'oh mercy it's Pea Whistle Percy.'

Having listened to all of the whistling choir's songs she sneaked away to wake her parents. On her way she saw a corner of a bright yellow envelope poking out from underneath a pile of papers. This was her envelope which was meant to be sent to Santa. Had her mother forgotten to send it? At first she felt a pang of upset but then she realised that this could only mean something brilliant…. Pea Whistle had achieved a place in the choir all by himself! Then, with the envelope in hand she eagerly skipped back to share her discovery with Percy.

Tree frog by Mike Chilvers

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Published December 23, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 23, 2010 at 9:53 am)

Nellie Trimm’s Christmas Wish

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