It was Christmas Eve. The small local train was almost empty. It was snowing very hard outside, it was very cold, and it was very dark.
Suddenly the train stopped. Everyone wondered what was wrong.
Then the train conductor walked through the train.
“I am very sorry,” he said to everyone. “The snow is too bad. We can’t go forward and we can’t go back. We have to stay here until the snow stops. And then someone will come and move the snow off the train tracks.”
“How long will we be here?” asked Melanie. “We have to get to Leeds by 8:30pm to catch our train to Manchester.”
“I don’t know,” said the conductor. “But it is 7:30pm now. I’m sorry. I don’t think we will get to Leeds in time.”
Melanie wanted to cry. When she married Craig in July, they moved to a small village in the Yorkshire Dales. She loved Craig very much, but life in the village was very quiet. She had not made any friends and she missed her family. She had not seen them since the wedding. She wanted to be with her family at Christmas.
Craig put his arms around Melanie. “It will be OK,” he said. “You will see your family tomorrow.”
The conductor was talking to a family with two children at the back of the railway carriage. The children were crying loudly. “But we have to be at Grandma and Grandad’s! We wrote letters to Santa. We told him we would be in Leeds on Christmas night! He won’t know where to find us. We won’t get any presents!”
Everyone was very unhappy. Everyone was talking loudly. They were shouting at the train conductor.
Then an old man stood up and said. “Everyone! Please calm down. I used to work on this railway line. I know this kind of weather very well. I think we will be here until tomorrow morning, or maybe longer. So we must make our own Christmas Eve party.
“Is there anyone in the next carriage?” he asked the train conductor.
“Yes, there are four young men,” said the train conductor.
“Please ask them to come here,” said the old man.
Then the old man smiled at everyone. “My name is George. I have a bottle of whisky. I was taking to my brother as a Christmas present. But I think I will share it with you.”
“I have Christmas pies and a bottle of my homemade orange drink,” said the mother of the children. “My name is Lisa. This is my husband David, and my children Angela and Micky. We want to share our food and drink with you.”
Melanie felt better. “We have cheese and crackers. Craig and I will share them with you.”
There were six adults and two children in the train carriage. Most people had special Christmas food and drink in their bags.
Then the four young men came from the next carriage. One of them had ham. “I promised my mother I would bring her some ham for Christmas tea tomorrow night. But she will have a lot of turkey, so I think we should eat it tonight.”
Everyone felt happier and the children stopped crying. They put all the food and drink out in the carriage. There was whisky and the orange drink, a bottle of champagne, ham, cheese, crackers, nuts, chocolates and Christmas pies. The only person who didn’t have anything was a quiet man in a suit. He looked sad because he didn’t have anything to add to the party.
“But we have no glasses or plates!” said Melanie.
The quiet man looked pleased. “I can help! My daughter asked me to bring paper cups and plates. I have a lot!”
The conductor went to the front of the train. The train driver came back with him and joined the party.
Everyone had a great time, especially the children. One of the young men had a guitar. They sang Christmas carols and played games.
Finally the children fell asleep but the adults stayed up until midnight. The snow had stopped falling, but the train couldn’t move.
Everyone said, “It was a wonderful party, but I hope the train can move soon.”
In the morning, when the children woke up, there were presents next to their seats.
“Santa found us!” they shouted. The adults were cold and tired, but everyone smiled.
“Santa is very clever,” smiled the old man. “And I heard the rescue team arriving about an hour ago. Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas!” shouted everyone, as the train started moving