Christmas often proved to be a stressful time for Sarah . Four children of equally challenging ages and a husband who conveniently found himself with back problems meant she in turn found herself chef, Santa and party planner all in one. 

The goose has been ordered and plans with far-flung family members secured. Fantastic. Now Sarah’s attention turned to the dreaded present list. While by no means a struggling family, trying to supply gifts for the kids in the age of gadgets and £50 video games required strategic thinking. To make matters worse, supply chain issues had combined with  poor timekeeping, making ordering presents online impossible. The high street beckoned. It’s bright lights and festive decorations masking a sinister plot to take her money and patience in one fell swoop. 

As Christmas loomed ever closer on the calendar, Sarah realised that there was no time to delay. So, she adorned her sturdiest scarf, thickest socks and warmest coat to go and do her maternal duty and provide unnecessary gifts for her family.

Each of her four children, Oscar, James, Maddy and Josh had given her an initial list of required presents at the start of December. A ruthless process of elimination had cut each child’s wish list down to around half. A seemingly manageable amount. While this still left around 20 presents, some careful persuasion meant that they could all be purchased in the Eastwatch shopping centre. A testimony to the power of consumerism, Eastwatch towered above the rest of the high street and cast a festive if somewhat imposing figure on the skyline. 

Always an advocate of working smart, Sarah had planned her route around the 6 floored retail monstrosity with the hope of getting in and out within 2 hours. Naturally this turned out to be futile but after 3 and half hours of lugging bags around, Sarah had got everything she needed. She stopped for a quick bite and entertained herself by watching smugly at the horrified expressions of people who just began their shopping. Smug sandwich munching complete, the mum of four gathered her many gifts and set off home.

The next few days passed without much incident. Pubs were visited, nativity plays observed and new years plans tossed around lazily. Due to a rather congested Christmas eve social calendar, Sarah and her hopeless partner decided to wrap the kids presents on the 23rd rather than customary 24th.

 At first Sarah thought that she was going crazy when she couldn’t find a bag containing her gifts from the electronics department of Eastwatch. As she searched frantically it dawned on her with horror that not only had she almost certainly left it at East Watch but that there were around 12 locations within that labyrinth that they could have ended up. After an unwarranted scolding by her husband on the subject of ‘paying attention’, Sarah realised that at 9:30PM it was far too late to worry and would have to be dealt with tomorrow. Time was against her however and with Christmas eve hurtling towards her, she required a fully fledged festive miracle to get those presents back in time.

That night she dreamed of being back at Eastwatch, except this time ghostly apparitions in the form of bags of gifts floated just out of reach. Each one was guarded by a burly looking Santa, accusing her of being a bad mother and then even more unfairly for ruining Christmas. After what felt like hours of chasing she collapsed on the floor, exhausted. 

Out of thin air appeared a kindly looking old man, floating on a battered umbrella. He extended a hand to her and helped her to her feet.

“Who are you?” Sarah asked in bewilderment. In all fairness, the umbrella riding entity painted an odd, mismatched image. Apart from his unorthodox method of transport he was wrapped in what looked like hundreds of scarves and jingled with the sound of a thousand keys.

“I am the lord of lost property, here to make sure you enjoy Christmas properly” He replied, jangling merrily.

“All is not lost” He waved a hand in an encouraging fashion “Your bag of gadgets is alive and well. As luck would have it Eastwatch has a lost property process that works, almost like magic.

“To see your items returned by Christmas morn, you just need to fill out the self service form” He finished smugly, clearly happy with his rhyming cadence.

“Where do I find it” Sarah replied, as hope of averting a Christmas catastrophe grew stronger

“I’ll email it to you” The lord of lost property replied frankly “Have you got Gmail?”

Next morning Sarah awoke in despair, the likelihood of her being visited by supernatural deity decreasing with each waking moment. Still, out of habit more than anything she checked her email and to her surprise she had a message from It contained a link to Eastwatch’s lost property form. She entered details of the missing bag and waited patiently. Within an hour, she received an email with an image of the bag asking if it was hers. Almost too relieved to type, she replied that it was and arranged to pick it up from the shopping centres front desk.

Within two hours she had the presents back, wrapped and under the tree like nothing had happened. Come Christmas morning her delighted offspring disappeared off upstairs to try out their new gifts.

“So how did you get the toys back” Hapless’ husband queried?

“I got lucky I guess, maybe next year you should do the shopping” Sarah responded.

They both laughed at the absurdity of the notion and went off to drink Bucks Fizz at 9 in the morning.