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The Story of Norbert

A long, long time ago, high in the Ore Mountains of Germany lived a boy called Henry. Henry was a special little boy, he was smaller than the other children his age, but just as brave and even more kind. But no matter how kind and brave he was, the other children picked on him for being different.

Henry’s father noticed how sad Henry was and how desperately he longed for a friend, so he decided to make Henry an extra-special present for Christmas.

Henry’s father spent night after night drawing sketches until he had finally perfected his vision for Henry’s gift. And though he could have asked the village’s woodworker for help, he chose to create the present himself.

Each evening, when Henry went to bed, Henry’s father would stay up extra late, carving each splendid detail with painstaking care, until finally, Henry’s special present started to take shape. As he worked, Henry’s father would wish hard for Henry to find a friend that was just as special as he was. But each day Henry came home from school and looked a little bit sadder than the day before.

By Christmas Eve, Henry’s special present was ready and was wrapped and underneath the tree for him to open on Christmas morning. It wasn’t perfect, some of the carving wasn’t as smooth as he would have liked and some of the paint had smudged, but he had made it with love and was sure that Henry would be thrilled by it. As he went to sleep that Christmas Eve, tired and with splinters from the wood still lodged in his hands, Henry’s father wished once more for a friend for his son.

On Christmas morning, Henry ran to the tree, eyes sparkling with excitement and ripped away the wrapping paper, revealing the most beautiful Nutcracker that Henry had ever seen. It was hand-painted in Henry’s favourite colours and had the funniest teeth and moustache. And best of all, it was the biggest Nutcracker Henry had ever seen, it was the same size as him!

Watching Henry hug the Nutcracker, Henry’s father could have sworn the paintwork had gotten better and the carving was smoother than he remembered. He rubbed his eyes, maybe he had just been really tired the last time he saw the Nutcracker.

Henry squealed with delight at the beautiful Nutcracker, exclaiming, “He’s as tall as me!”

“That’s right, Henry,” Henry’s father said with a smile. “This is Norbert, he is a very special Nutcracker.”

“What makes him special?” asked Henry.

“Norbert is special because he will grant one wish.” Henry’s father said, expecting Henry to wish for chocolate or more toys which he could easily grant.

Henry’s eyes lit up with excitement. “I wish for a friend,” Henry said, and his father’s smile faltered. He looked to the Nutcracker he had spent so long creating, and thought he saw Norbert wink. Must be a trick of the light, he thought.

Henry insisted on taking Norbert with him to the village’s Christmas dinner and whilst Henry’s father was worried about the Nutcracker, he had spent so long creating getting damaged, he allowed it as it made Henry so happy.

Everyone was very impressed with Norbert and lots of other children asked to play with him. Henry, being the kind boy that he was, shared with the other children and let them play. It made Henry’s father very proud to watch Henry play so nicely with the children who had once been mean to him.

After Christmas dinner, a fresh layer of snow began to fall, and the children headed outside to play. Henry, of course, brought Norbert along with him. When Henry’s father went to check on the children, he was greeted by a snowball hitting him right between the eyes. With a chuckle, he wiped the snow out of his eyes and couldn’t believe what he saw. Norbert the Nutcracker was helping Henry to scoop up snow and roll it into snowballs! His wooden arms and legs moved stiffly as he rolled another snowball and threw it at Henry’s father once more.

Though he saw it coming this time, Henry’s father was too stunned to duck. When he once more cleared the snow out of his eyes, Henry was by his side. “Norbert started a snowball fight!” he said, with glee. “Now all the boys and girls want to be my friend because I have a magic Nutcracker.”

Henry’s father looked back at the moving Nutcracker in disbelief. Norbert met his gaze and winked. This time, there was no doubt it was real and not a trick of the light. Norbert had come to life. Henry and his father had wished so hard for a friend for Henry at the most magical time of year that Norbert had become that friend and now Henry had lots of new friends too.

As Christmas came to an end, Henry was tucked into bed with a big smile on his face. “This was the best Christmas ever,” he whispered, with sleepy eyes. Henry’s father tucked him in and kissed his head and finally turned to where the Nutcracker had come to stand at Henry’s bedside. On the stroke of midnight, with a final wink, Norbert returned to a still statue, content that he had made Henry’s wish come true.

We recreated Norbert in 2018, and whilst he has some new features, he is based on that magical Christmas Nutcracker from Germany. Rumour has it that he still comes to life at Christmas time, to spread magic, Christmas cheer and a little bit of mischief to all the boys and girls that need it.

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