The Magic of Christmas Eve
“Look at that!”
The Bori pointed excitedly at the shop window, her face shoved against the glass. “That’s the one, Mom, the one that would be perfect for under our tree.” She grinned up at her owner, who was also looking longingly at the toy train that was chugging under the display tree.
“It is a nice train, Renee,” the girl admitted, beginning to bite her nails.
Renee knew what was coming.
“But... well... I already bought your presents, dear.” Brigitte found herself unable to lock eyes with her Neopet. “There’s just not enough money in our budget for one extra thing, and that train is awfully expensive.”
Renee’s ears drooped. She thought of their quaint little house in Neopia, a little small but very homey, and the tree they had lovingly decorated out of homemade ornaments and things from the Advent Calendar. It was perfect... or would be, if only it had a train under it!
“I guess I can’t ask Santa Kaus,” Renee sighed as she and Brigitte returned to their home, sparkling with red and green lights against the snowy landscape. They had just returned from their annual winter walk when they looked at everyone’s Christmas decorations. “It’s Christmas Eve – he’s probably already packed his sleigh.”
Brigitte was quiet for a few minutes, but at length she said, “Well, you don’t know that. Santa Kaus is a very amazing Kau – he could probably hear your wish even now.” A small idea was forming in her mind; something from her childhood she had long since forgotten. Getting a few newspapers, Brigitte began to make a fire as Renee went to turn on their Christmas tree.
“When I was little, what I would do is send a letter up the chimney,” Brigitte was explaining. “They go straight to Santa Kaus.”
“Can I do that even though it’s already Christmas Eve?” Renee asked, her long blue ears perking up.
“I’m sure Santa Kaus would get your letter.” Brigitte smiled. She watched her Bori run to the kitchen, then a few minutes later return with an envelope labeled “For Santa Kaus”. Taking it, the girl held it over the fire, and it quickly shot out of her hand and up the chimney.
Renee rushed to the window to look for it. “I can’t see it – it’s really started to snow!” she exclaimed in wonder. Smiling, Brigitte joined her Neopet by the window, hugging her close to watch the falling snowflakes.
The old Skeith hadn’t meant to be out so late. He grumbled to himself and pulled his scarf tighter about his neck. Working as a guard at the Neopian Mall was his life, he had been annoyed to discover that on Christmas Eve it closed rather late because of all those silly Neopians doing their last minute Christmas shopping. Plus, they’d left the Mall a complete mess, and of course he had to help clean up.
Thourne knew when he got to his apartment, the first thing he’d do was make himself a warm cup of coffee. There was no Christmas tree in his home – Thourne didn’t really begrudge Christmas celebrators, but he had better things to do than bother with it himself. Still, he had to admit that Christmas was going to be a lonely one this year. He’d moved over from Brightvale for a short while and would miss the annual Christmas dinner he and his friends always had. They’d always told him that even though he wasn’t exactly a jolly old Christmas soul, that didn’t mean he had any excuse to not celebrate with them.
Thourne sighed. You’ll be back in Brightvale in a few months, old boy... just remember that, he told himself.
He had just turned down the street his apartment was on when suddenly something white and wet slapped him hard in the face. With a cry, Thourne tore it off. What’s this? A letter? It was addressed to “Santa Kaus”. Thourne chuckled and shook the envelope in his hand ruefully. Whoever had sent out this letter was going to be sorely disappointed come Christmas morning!
Still, he couldn’t help but feel a little bit curious. Once he got into his apartment, Thourne found himself sitting down and turning on a light. Cautiously, the Skeith opened the envelope and pulled out the letter.
“Dear Santa Kaus, I know it’s Christmas Eve, but Mom said that you’re magic and can do anything, so I bet you can take a last gift request. We’re very happy with our Christmas tree, but it has no train! I can’t imagine a Christmas tree without a train under it. Could you maybe bring one? I saw the prettiest train in the window at Neopia Central’s Toy Shop. Thank you, Santa!
Love, Renee the Blue Bori”
The Bori had also included her address.
Thourne smiled and shook his head, placing the letter on the coffee table and leaning back. A Christmas train, eh? He thought of one of his friends back in Brightvale and his little boy. The kid was obsessed with Christmas and always insisted on decking out the family’s house to the max every year. It was quite comical, really. He also had the biggest train collection that Thourne had ever seen. It was too big to go under the tree, actually, but they still had a tree train.
Thourne had to chuck when he thought of little Benny. Benny adored Thourne and always grew so excited when he came over to Christmas dinner. Thourne wrote a letter to Benny every other weekend so they could stay in touch. He could imagine telling Benny about his lonely Christmas.... The poor child would be so disappointed.
The Skeith went to his coffeemaker and whipped up a quick cup. Taking it to his window, he watched the snowfall, thinking. He could hear Benny’s voice in his head: “A Christmas tree without a train? That’s awful! How can a Christmas tree be a Christmas tree without a train?”
Fyora, he missed Benny’s Christmas spirit. Thourne could imagine the kid granting Miss Renee’s Christmas wish – he could never stand to see anyone less fortunate than himself. Thourne took a sip of his coffee. Well... maybe Benny couldn’t buy a train for Renee, but he, Thourne, could. Thourne couldn’t bear to tell Benny about a Santa Kaus letter he’d found asking for a Christmas train, and then tell Benny how he hadn’t done anything about it.
Maybe Thourne’s Christmas wouldn’t be the greatest, but perhaps he could make someone else’s.
Thourne found himself walking down Wocky Road, counting the houses until he reached the one that this Renee lived in. He felt rather odd with the train tucked in a box under his arm, his other hand holding his cane, walking through ever-deepening snow. The snow was now falling rather heavily, reflected by streetlights dotted down the road.
Suddenly, the Skeith felt his cane slip from his hand – he’d stepped on ice and fell hard with a loud thud and an “oomph!”. The package flew out of his hand and slid down the street, into a single beam of streetlight.
Thourne attempted to get up, but his cane had disappeared in the snow and he was having trouble. Oh, bother these old bones of mine! the Skeith thought to himself, muttering under his breath. Just then, another light fell upon the snow-covered street. It poured from an open door in a house opposite the one that Renee’s was on, and was rather large and luxurious-looking.
The long face of a Uni popped out of the door, then the body – a Faerie-painted Uni by the looks of it. Her elegant wings fluttered slightly as she stepped into the snow.
“Is someone there, Gwen?” Thourne heard someone say, out of sight in the house.
“No one... but look!” The Uni hopped off the porch and towards the package lying on the ground (it was nearly covered by snow by this time). Thourne, crippled without his cane, could only kneel and watch as Gwen approached the package and poked her head towards it.
The figure of an older boy was coming down to accompany the Uni. He was shrugging on a winter coat and was wearing pajamas. “What’s that?” he asked.
“Look, Greg, it’s a train!” Gwen exclaimed. The boy knelt down and picked up the package, examining it.
“A pretty expensive one, too, by the looks of it.”
“I remember seeing that in the window of the Toy Shop!” the Uni cried in recognition, pointing a blue hoof to the box. “It’s really cool.”
“I wonder if someone dropped it...” Greg said distractedly, looking up and down the road. He did not see Thourne shadowed in between the streetlights. “There’s not much we can do to find the owner, though; they could be long gone by now.”
He glanced down at Gwen. “What’s wrong? You’ve got an odd look on your face.”
“Well, it’s just that... we don’t need a train for under our tree,” the Uni was saying slowly, staring hard at the package. “Do you think...”
“Could we give it to someone?”
“Who did you have in mind?”
Thourne could never say afterward why he never cried aloud to Gwen and Greg, saying it was his package. But he found that night that he could only watch, silent and still as stone, as the scene before him unfolded.
“I’ve seen the family that lives in that house,” Gwen continued, gesturing with a hoof to a small house across the street. “A Bori and a girl, right?”
“That’s Renee and Brigitte. Very nice folks, too, I’ve talked to them before,” Greg supplied. Thourne felt his heart skip a beat.
“They’re not exactly rich... I mean... they’re not as fortunate as we are,” Gwen said, sounding uncomfortable. She swished a hoof in the snow, looking down. “Do you think... we could give them the train as a present and visit them?”
Greg had to laugh. “What brings on this sudden want to help people?” he chuckled, kneeling down to look Gwen in the face.
Gwen shrugged. “Oh, Renee just seems nice, and I love meeting new people, and... well, it’s Christmas, Greg!” She looked up at her owner. “Isn’t Christmas always the most magical time of the year? Everyone needs a little magic! We’ve already had ours...” Her gaze strayed to her house. “...maybe we can give it to someone else.”
Greg chuckled again. “Gwen, I would love to.”
Standing up, the boy led his Uni to a house and knocked. After a few moments, the door opened, revealing a young girl and a Blue Bori looking curiously at the visitors.
“Hi, you’re Renee, right?” Gwen asked, grinning. Renee nodded. She thought she recognized the Uni – she lived in the beautiful house across the street.
“Merry Christmas!” Taking the package, Gwen all but shoved it to Renee and Brigitte, grinning widely.
“My goodness!” Brigitte exclaimed as Renee burst into a squeal as her eyes caught what Gwen had just given her.
“Gwen wanted to share the holiday spirit with you,” Greg said, grinning widely.
“Why don’t you come in? There’s Christmas cookies and...”
Thourne did not hear the rest – the street grew quiet as the door closed. He’d found his cane and stood slowly up, shrugging the snow from his shoulders. He found his eyes were glistening with wet, but quickly wiped it away. For a long while he stood there, staring at the Christmas lights and letting the snow fall round him.
Then after awhile, the Skeith turned around to go back to his apartment. After all, it was Christmas Eve, and who knew what magic might be awaiting him?