It was the night before the Day of Giving, and over at
the Neopian Pound, two creatures were stirring. A Pink Uni moved silently from
one cage door to another, placing objects in blue striped pillowcases that were
hung from the bars. Near the front door stood Doctor Death, the Yellow Techo,
tapping his foot impatiently as he waited for the Uni to finish. Within the
cells, the Pound inmates slept soundly, oblivious to what was going on outside
At last the Uni was done, and she and the Doctor
left the Pound, locking the door behind them.
"Oh, how I wish I could give all those poor
Pets what they really want for Christmas--a loving home for each and every one
of them--instead of just some second-hand toys," sighed the Uni.
The Techo snorted. "They're lucky to be getting
even that. A waste of time, collecting a bunch of junky playthings that will
probably break as soon as they try to play with them."
"But it's Christmas, Doctor. And it was all
we could afford. Hopefully, if the Neofates are kind, maybe the toys won't break
too soon." She shivered. "It's so cold--maybe I should put another log on the
fireplace in there before we go home, so the Pets won't freeze."
"They won't freeze. A Pet has to have an owner
before it can be frozen." He laughed harshly at his own joke, though the Uni
did not even smile. This made the Techo scowl again. "Fine, don't laugh. Remember,
no work tomorrow. I'll see you the day after, when we open back up again and
all this Day of Giving nonsense is over with. It can't happen any too soon for
"Merry Christmas, Doctor," the Uni called as
she headed home towards her waiting family.
The Techo muttered something that sounded like
"Bah, humbug," as he trudged off, alone.
By morning, the fire in the hearth had dwindled down to a smoky pile of ashes
within the Pound. The unwanted, abandoned Pets twitched fitfully in their sleep
as the indoor temperature dropped. Unconsciously, they tried to burrow deeper
into their threadbare blankets for warmth. One poor Yellow Usul uttered a racking
sneeze (she had been suffering from Sneezles when her former owner decided she
was not worth having anymore) and woke up.
Pale daylight illuminated the windows of the
Pound, and the sickly little Usul noticed the dark shape of something hanging
from the bars of her cage. Suddenly remembering what Day it was, she sat up
and gave a weak but excited cry: "Merry Christmas, everyone!"
All through the long cell block, cries of "Merry
Christmas!" and "Happy Day of Giving!" came from the newly-awakened inmates.
Small paws reached up to snatch the pillowcases from the bars, and eager eyes
looked to see what treasures they contained. Each case held but a single toy,
and a shabby one at that. Earlier that month, the Adoption Uni had repeatedly
gone to the Money Tree, hoping to snag some toy donations for the Pound Pets.
Unfortunately, the NeoPet owners were more concerned about the happiness of
their own Pets, and those who did donate gave only used toys that their Pets
no longer wanted. Nevertheless, these homeless ones were grateful for anything
A Blue Mynci waved a Plastic Sword in the air,
hacking and slashing at imaginary enemies. "Take that, you nasty Lord Darigan!"
he cried, giving the bars of his cage a mighty blow. Alas, this proved to be
more than the toy weapon could take, and the plastic blade broke off at the
A young Red Grundo, only a few days old, raced
around in tight circles within his cell on his "new" old Super Duper Scooter,
shouting with delight--until both of the wheels abruptly fell off.
A Green Elephante pulled a patched Basketball
out of his pillowcase. Finding it a bit squashy, he attempted to add some more
air to it with his trunk. One breath...two breaths...three...and the ball promptly
burst and went flat. The Elephante stared at his ruined gift in shock.
The sick Usul held a battered old Fuzzie Bear
in her arms, cuddling and cooing at it, not minding its worn-out appearance--until
suddenly its head fell brokenly to one side, and sawdust started pouring out
of its neck. The toy collapsed into a bundle of rags, and the Usul gasped. Her
lower jaw trembled, and she began to cry.
All throughout the Pound, her sobs were echoed
by the other inmates, for not a single one of them had received a toy without
it breaking almost immediately upon being played with. Even though the Adoption
Uni had meant well, this was somehow worse than finding no toys at all on Christmas
morning. While in other parts of Neopia, luckier NeoPets were waking up to find
lots of wonderful presents and candy and a fine breakfast in a warm home surrounded
by their families, the unwanted Pets in the Pound knew only pain and misery
and bitter, bitter disappointment.
"Hurry up, Miss_Claus! You don't want to make us late for the Christmas Party,"
BlossomAnn the Yellow Aisha gently admonished her sister.
"Yeah, there's gonna be cookies and cake and
turkey and everything. I can hardly wait!" drooled the Green Lupe known as Hollowbelly.
"Not to mention gifts and games and party favours,"
added Jonah, the Striped Flotsam.
Miss_Claus, a fetching little Christmas Bruce,
finally emerged from her bedroom, all ready to go. "Don't forget the best part--singing
Christmas carols!" she reminded them. Her Santa Claus outfit which she perpetually
wore was clean and fairly glowed with the excitement of the Season. A small
bag slung over her shoulder completed the image.
"What's in the bag, Missy?" her brother Jonah
The little Bruce's cheeks grew pink. "Um, well,
I just thought I would bring some of the toys I got this morning, to share with
our cousins. Not to show off or anything, but...."
BlossomAnn laughed. "Don't worry, I'm sure our
cousins will be showing off their new gifts as well. Especially 7_flames, if
I know that smart-aleck Fire Wocky."
The four NeoPets left their home and set off
on that frosty morning, heading for their cousins' house. However, they were
not halfway there when a glowing light appeared in front of them, and out of
the glow stepped a Light Faerie, tall and radiant. "Young NeoPets," she spoke
in a voice like sunbeams, "I have a quest for you, should you be willing to
"But we're on our way to--glmbpf," Hollowbelly
started to say before BlossomAnn wrapped one of her ear-stalks around his muzzle.
"Yes, Miss Faerie?" she asked politely.
The Light Faerie smiled. "If it's not too much
trouble, I really need a Flaming Wuzzle card."
"Why, that's easy! I have one of those at home,"
exclaimed Miss_Claus, bouncing up and down. To her siblings, she added, "You
go on ahead, I'll catch up with you. I won't be long."
"Are you sure you'll be all right on your own?"
the Yellow Aisha frowned in concern.
The Bruce nodded vigorously. "Please, Sissie--I'm
not a baby anymore. And I've wanted to do a Faerie Quest for, like, forever!
Everyone else gets to do them except me."
BlossomAnn sighed, but she was smiling now.
"Very well, then. Take care, and don't be late."
Minutes later, Miss_Claus was back at the NeoHome, placing the requested Collectable
Card into her bag. Humming a little Christmas tune to herself, she re-locked
the front door and set off for the local transport booth that would take her
directly to Faerieland. "On the first day of Celebrating, the Calendar gave
to me...a Pawkeet in a Phear tree..." she sang happily.
En route to the transport booth, she happened
to pass by the Neopian Pound. Miss_Claus shuddered; a little over a year ago,
she had been a pound inmate herself. How lucky she was to have a family now!
"On the second day of Celebrating, the Calendar gave to me... two Turdle PetPets
and a Pawkeet in a Phear Tree...On the third day...of...of...."
Miss_Claus stopped singing, for the sounds of
weeping had finally reached her ears. Placing her bag of toys against the wall,
she stood on it and was just able to peek in through the Pound window. There
were the dreary cells, just as she remembered them, and each cell contained
a broken toy and a broken-hearted NeoPet, bawling its eyes out.
Tears sprang to the young Bruce's own eyes.
Suddenly, she didn't feel like going to a lovely Christmas party with goodies
and gifties and everything. If the door and the windows of the Pound had not
all been locked up tight, she would have gladly dumped all the toys in her bag
inside for the homeless ones. But even if she had been able to do this, there
would not have been enough to go around. Heartsick, she turned away from the
As Miss_Claus continued her trip to Faerieland,
other NeoPets hurried past her, their arms full of presents and food. Some wished
her a "Happy Day of Giving!" and were surprised that the little Christmas Bruce
could look so sad on such a glorious occasion--this Day of all days--but they
were too busy going to their own family get-togethers to ask any questions.
At last she arrived in Faerie City and made
her way to the Faerie Quests building. The Light Faerie was waiting for her
when she entered. "Ah, you brought me the Flaming Wuzzle card I asked for--but
my dear child, whatever is the matter?" gasped the Faerie when she saw her.
Gulping back her sobs, Miss_Claus held out the
card and whimpered, "I don't want a reward. I don't want a blessing. I don't
wanna fight in the old Battledome anyway..." She then became quite incoherent
with crying, while the other Faeries of Earth, Air, Fire and Water who were
present gathered round to try and comfort the distraught young Bruce. Nearby,
a few Darkness Faeries sniffed disdainfully and turned away, putting their hands
over their ears.
Finally, the Faerie Queen, Fyora herself came
out to see what the commotion was. By this time Miss_Claus had calmed down to
the point where she could tearfully explain about what she had seen over at
the Pound. The other Faeries all grew very quiet, and a couple of them looked
as though they were about to weep as well. But Fyora looked strangely happy.
"Kind little Bruce," she said gently, "did you
know that this happens every single year? And every year, a NeoPet with an unselfish
heart comes just as you have, and we give that one some very special Magick
to bring Christmas to those unfortunate souls in the Pound. I had feared that
no one would show up this year, but here you are at last, and it's not too late.
Come now, dry your eyes and we will supply you with everything you will need...."
Over at the Pound, the abandoned NeoPets had crawled back under their tattered
blankets, still sobbing miserably. The broken toys had all been put back into
their pillowcases, because the Pets could not bear to look at them any longer.
The building was ice cold now; the fire had long since gone out, and the sick
Usul was not the only one sneezing.
Then, hardly noticeable at first, the jingling
sound of a bell cut through the constant whimpering and crying. First one NeoPet,
then another glanced in the direction of the sound, which was coming from the
dead fireplace. Something dropped in the middle of the ashes, sending a few
puffs of soot flying through the air. A cheerful, high-pitched voice called
out, "Merry Christmas, everybody! Happy Day of Giving!"
Miss_Claus, shaking a Jingly Bell in one flipper
and carrying an enormous bag that seemed to weigh no more than a feather, stepped
out of the hearth. She had flown--yes, flown--all the way back from Faerieland,
bag and all, thanks to a little magic from Queen Fyora.
Reaching into the sack--which Fyora had called
the Bag of Endless Christmas Wishes--she took out some Faerie dust and sprinkled
it into the air. It sparkled and drifted into the locks on every cage in the
Pound, and at once all the doors swung open. The suddenly liberated Pets tumbled
out of their cells and crowded around the Christmas Bruce with cries of "Santa
Claus!" "It's Santa Claus!" "No, wait--it's Missus Santa Claus!"
"Actually, I'm Miss_Claus," she corrected them,
giggling. "Goodness me, it's freezing in here!" Turning around, she cast a flipperful
of Faerie dust at the cold hearth. At once a fire blazed up merrily, pouring
forth a welcome warmth and light that quickly flooded the Pound. "And is that
your Christmas tree?" the Bruce cried, pointing to a scraggly old dried up pine
stick with a few broken ornaments hanging off of it over by the front door.
Another burst of Faerie sparkles later, the Pound inmates were oohing and ahhing
over a great, gorgeous blue spruce decked out with popcorn, cranberries, shimmering
baubles and twinkling lights.
Despite their excitement, the Pound Pets were
very well behaved, and came forward one at a time to receive their gifts. Every
Pet got a plushie that looked like them, a NeoPet Cracker and a Chocolate Coated
Candy Cane, plus something special and unique to each Pet. Many asked for PetPets--and
got them. The sick Usul was given a magic cookie that made her well again.
At the very end of the line lurked a Mutant
Chia, whom all the other Pets were afraid of because he looked so scary. Miss_Claus
gave a start when this apparition shuffled up to her, but she reached into the
Faerie's bag, wished with all her might--and pulled out a Magical Christmas
Chia Pop. A cheer went up as the Mutant ate it and turned into a jolly Snow
Games were next: Blind Moehog, a variant of
Blindman's Bluff was played, followed by Oranges and Juppies, then several rounds
of Hide Santa's Hat, which was like Hide the Slipper only using Miss_Claus's
stocking cap instead of a slipper. The winners all received prizes out of the
Bag of Endless Christmas Wishes, and those who did not win were given party
Then came the Christmas Dinner. A long wooden
table filling the cell block with places set for every NeoPet appeared when
Miss_Claus tossed some more Faerie powder into the air. Great platters of roast
turkey and sweet ham with fruit covered the table, along with baskets of warm
rolls and bowls of mashed potatoes and peas dripping with melted butter. Cups
of piping Hot Borovan and chilled sparkling apple cider were provided to wash
down all this lovely food, and a huge Christmas Pudding with ice cream was waiting
When they had all eaten as much as they could
hold, Miss_Claus suggested that they sing Christmas carols. She started by teaching
them the Advent Calendar song, also known as "A Pawkeet in a Phear Tree." It
was both a song and a game, as there were thirty-one verses and coincidentally,
there were thirty NeoPets in the Pound that day. Therefore, each Pet got to
make up a verse as the days in the song progressed (since nobody could ever
remember all thirty-one verses). Some of the made-up verses were rather silly
("Five Golden Carrots!" "Fifteen Buzzes burping!" "Twenty-six flying dungballs!"),
and by the time they got to the end of the song, more Pets were laughing than
actually singing it.
After that, they sang "Jingly Bells," "Deck the Ball"
and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ixi." Miss_Claus noticed that some of the Pets were
beginning to yawn, so she led them in one last carol: "Hark, the Herald Aishas
Sing," before bidding them farewell. She hated to see them return to their individual
cages, but knew it would not do for them to be out and about when the workers
returned the next day. They all hugged her goodbye, some with tears in their
eyes--quite different from the tears they had shed that morning when everything
was so awful.
"Merry Christmas!" she called out for the last
time. "I hope you all get adopted soon!" With that, she sprinkled one more bit
of Faerie dust on herself, made a final wish, and winked out of sight.
"Here you are, at last!" exclaimed BlossomAnn when her little Bruce sister
finally showed up at their cousins' NeoHome that afternoon. "We were all so
worried! Where were you?"
"On a Faerie Quest," Miss_Claus answered softly.
"When I completed it, Queen Fyora had something else for me to do. I'm sorry,
I hope I didn't spoil the Christmas party."
"Well, you've missed the Christmas Dinner,"
the Aisha went on, shaking her head. "We saved you a plate that you can take
home and eat later. But you missed all the fun, Miss_Claus! You missed the games
and getting to see everyone open all their presents. I'm so sorry."
Instead of looking sad, the Bruce's expression
was thoughtful. "Did I miss the caroling?"
"No, we were waiting for it to get dark before
we did that. It's all that's left of the party."
Miss_Claus beamed. "That's good enough for me,"
she replied, giving her sister a big hug.
The following day, the Pound reopened as the
Adoption Uni and Doctor Death, the Abandonment Techo returned to work. Neither
one said a word about the big, beautiful Christmas tree, or the fact that the
inmates all had wonderful new toys that certainly had not come from the Money
Tree. But they both had their secret thoughts on the matter:
Ahh, she did it again, thought the Yellow
Techo. I don't know how she does it, but she must have snuck in here on Christmas
Day and given these Pets all this stuff. Well, better her than me--and it sure
beats coming back here to a bunch of howling, miserable kids....
That old humbug! the Pink Uni smiled
to herself. Pretending to be such a curmudgeon, acting like he doesn't care
at all, and then doing all this for the poor Pets every year at Christmas. It
just proves that deep down, under that gruff exterior, there beats a heart of