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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 11th day of Celebrating, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 71 > Short Stories > Golden Christmas

Golden Christmas

by shelleylow

"Are you absolutely sure about puttin' this here?"

     Florepa the Starry Zafara eyed the Snow Chia Sculpture in the middle of the entrance hallway critically.

     "Of course I'm sure, Flo," said his sister S_Dasher, from where she was hanging a Holly Wreath on one of the walls. She turned her head to her brother, her golden fur glinting with the movement. "What's wrong with the thing?"

     "Nothin'," said Florepa, still surveying the statue with a disapproving eye. The effigy stared back at him with its fixed jolly smile typical of Chias. "I just think it's a bit cheapskate to have our Christmas décor composed entirely of things that we got for free at the Advent Calendar…"

     "Oh, it doesn't matter," said the Gelert brightly. "Kit and the others won't mind. They are family after all." Their owner Shell appeared in the doorway to the living room.

     "Are the pair of you finished with the hallway yet?" she asked. "Kate and Ben just called to say they've arrived on Mystery Island and they'll be here in about five minutes."

     "What about Sentroy, Achi and Tai?" Dasher inquired.

     "They are coming, aren't they?"

     Shell was about to reply as to the whereabouts of her brother when there was a knock on the door. Florepa opened it to reveal a tall teenage boy about fourteen or so. At his feet were his two pets.

     "Ah, good, Sentroy," said Florepa. "We were just talking about you three. C'mon in."

     Tilaxis the yellow Chia and Achievers_united the blue Jubjub, more commonly known as Tai and Achi, slapped high-paws with Florepa (though in Achi's case it was more like a high-foot-paw), greeted Dasher and followed their owner and his sister into the living room, leaving Florepa and Dasher to check their handiwork on the entrance hall. A green Peophin was reclining on the sofa.

     "Oh there you are, Su," Shell said. "Could you go and see if Wen is finished with dinner yet? The others will be here soon."

     Wen the red Grarrl poked his head out the door. Clouds of delicious-smelling steam wafted out around him. "Just finishing up. When are-"

     A pounding noise emanated from the entrance hall, followed by a short growl of exasperation from Dasher, as her carefully positioned Holly Wreath was knocked askew. Shell and Sentroy got up swiftly, trotted to the door and opened it.

     Immediately, their two cousins, Katespice151 and Bencheng, followed by their pets, poured in through the door in a colourful, enthusiastic medley. It was Christmas Eve, after all, and as everyone knows, Christmas is spent with family. That meant a reunion. This was their first real reunion, as Katespice and her younger brother Bencheng had only discovered the world of Neopia that year, and Shell being the eldest among the four, her house was chosen to be the party site.

     Dasher forgot her indignation about the crooked wreath and in her usual jaunty manner trotted to the door to meet her cousins. She nearly pounced on the cousin she was closest to, Kitspice, then stopped as she saw the disappointed expression on the Aisha's face.

     "Kit? What's wrong?" she asked, cocking her golden head to one side.

     "There's no snow," Kitspice sighed. Her long, glowing, neon-green tail twitched as she gazed out of the pane-less window into the pale blue sky as the late afternoon sunbeams slanted through the clouds and trees. True enough, Mystery Island being a tropical island, snow never came.

     "How do you celebrate Christmas without snow?" Kitspice continued. "It just seems so…strange. The ground back at Neopia Central is covered. It was so much fun playing in it, and making snow-pets and having snowball fights…we can't do any of that here."

     Dasher looked around at the rest of the group. Bencheng and Katespice's pets did seem a little downcast, even though they were settling in well. She threw a paw about the Aisha's shoulders. "Don't worry. Snow or no snow, you'll have a ball here. I'll show you what a Mystery Island Christmas is like!"

     "Dash!" Shell emerged from the living room. "We're going to go choose the tree now!"

     "Oh boy!" barked the Gelert happily. "Come on, Kit!"

     Curious, Kitspice scampered after her cousin as she bounded out the door.

     "What are the humans carrying those for?" Bencheng's mutant Chia, Chiamaster, more commonly just called Master, looked quizzically at the large cardboard boxes each of the owners were carrying in their arms. Florepa smiled at him.

     "You'll see soon enough."

     "Where's the axe?" Ben's young blue Techo, Cybzard, had padded up beside them as the group started down the sandy path. "How do you cut down a tree without an axe?"

     "Just wait, Zardy," Florepa replied, strangely with none of his usual impatience. "We have to pick a tree out first."

     Eventually, the path led them down to the coastline. The Neopia Central pets couldn't help but be enthralled as they stood on a grassy sandbank overlooking the shore. The white-topped waves crashed repeatedly against the sand as the seabirds wheeled in the sky. Further in the distance, the sun blazed as it sank still lower towards the sea.

     Two heads quite suddenly emerged from the sunlit water. Tsunami and Samfire, Bencheng's Flotsam, had followed the river to get to where the family was, as neither could do without water for long. Tsunami, her long red mane plastered to her neck and her coat on the horse-part of her darkened by the water, loped up the beach towards them followed by Sam, the water dripping off his red scales and the green ones on the fish-part of Tsunami to leave damp, dark trails in the sand. Still, they looked refreshed by their swim.

     "I think this one will work."

     Sentroy was standing by a young casuarina tree, about as tall as he was, with a hand on its rough trunk.

     "That'll be great," Katespice agreed. She placed her box carefully on the floor, and from it, took out a Christmas tree ornament in the shape of a golden star. "Right, everyone, let's get decorating."

     "We're not taking it home?" Katespice's Chia, Chipster, nudged Tilaxis, who shook his head. "Nope, we're decorating it right here. Don't worry, it'll be great."

     The Neopia Central pets forgot about the absence of snow as they turned their attention to the business at hand.

     "You know, Dash," Kitspice said happily as she hung a white, glittery snowflake-shape on one of the needle-like leaves, "this is rather fun." Dash winked. "I knew you'd think so." Kitspice stood back to admire her handiwork, dusting glitter off her paws.

     "Excuse me, Kit," called Katespice, "we're putting on the finishing touches now."

     The pets all crowded away from the tree as Shell, Sentroy, Ben and Katespice came towards it and draped gleaming, silvery tinsel over the tree, threading it through the boughs.

     Wen noticed little Flora, Katespice's Kacheek, admiring the crystal Zafara angel figurine. As gently as he could, he picked her up in his claws and held her next to the tree's peak. Flora needed no second bidding. She quickly hung the shining ornament at the very top.

     "Well, that certainly looks good." Zoxty, Ben's Quiggle, eyed the tree with approval. "Absolutely in the centre, nicely done, Flora! Couldn't have done it better myself!"

     "No, you couldn't, Zox," chuckled Ealgcon, Katespice's Eyrie. He arched his back and stretched his blue wings out in contentment. "I could get used to this place." The pets and their owners sat back with happy sighs and eyed their handiwork. The late afternoon sunlight turned the world to gold around them; even the tree seemed to be covered with gold leaf. It positively glowed as the glittering ornaments sparkled on its branches.

     "And now we eat," Sentroy said. "Pass your box, Ben."

     "We're eating here too?" Kitspice turned to Dasher. The Gelert nodded.

     "Yup."

     "Good," said the Aisha happily. "I didn't want to go back to the house, not after that." She waved her paw at the sky, with its pink and gold clouds scudding and chasing each other across it.

     The dinner Wen had prepared was soon taken out and arranged on the tablecloth that had also been in Bencheng's box. There was the traditional fruit-filled Seasonal Pudding with its sprig of holly at the top, gingerbread cookies ornamented with icing and coloured sugar, fresh-baked, crisp Apple Pies and all sorts of other food. Like all Wen's cooking, it was delicious. The family ate and watched the sun sink below the sea in a firestorm of vermilion and pink and gold, burning a trail across the water as it did.

     Soon, the food was gone, but Shell, Sentroy and their pets didn't make any move to go back to the house. The Neopia Central pets and their owners waited to see what else was in store.

     They didn't have long to wait. The dark indigo of night soon enveloped the sky and the stars came out, bigger and brighter than could be seen in the city. The slim crescent of moon could be seen too, and not a cloud was in sight.

     All of a sudden, a swarm of Flightning bugs whirred out of the bushes in the jungle some distance behind and zoomed through the night. They hovered over the tree, now gleaming in starlight, and then settled on its branches, flashing their inbuilt lights every now and then.

     Kitspice nudged Dasher. "Did you know that was going to happen?"

     Dasher shook her head. "Guess the Flightning bugs took it into their heads to give us lights for the tree, too. Nice of them, really."

     She turned teasingly to her cousin. "So, even though this wasn't a white Christmas, I take it you had a good time?"

     "Yeah." Kitspice smiled, remembering the gilded, fiery sky of the sunset. "I'd call it a golden Christmas." From the nearby Mystery Island houses, the merry strains of 'Deck the Halls' rose and seemed to carry across the entire island. Cheerily, the pets and their owners joined in.

The End


Author's Note: Many thanks to my brother Sentroy and my cousins Katespice151 and Bencheng for consenting to be in the story with ALL their pets. Merry Golden Christmas to all of you :)

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