The Best Gift
Molly and her friends slipped down the icy slope, past the Snowager, past the Neggery, until they landed in Happy Valley. "Strawberry, please," she told the Lutari at the ice cream cart, handing over her token. She barely had time to lick it before she felt a patch of cold on her fur. She turned around to see a full snowball fight had erupted. Laughing, she scooped up a handful of snow...
“Daydreaming again, Molly?" Molly turned around to see her mother and father in her bedroom. She was a fairly young Xweetok, painted island, and small for her age.
“Oh, hi Mum, Dad. It's only twenty five days until Christmas!”
Molly's mother laughed. "We live on Mystery Island. We don't celebrate Christmas, Molly.”
“But wouldn't it be nice if we could go to Terror Mountain for a change this Christmas. Could we, Dad? We could have ice cream and meet Taelia and have snow fights!" Molly's eyes were gleaming.
“Give me Jhuidah and some sunny weather any day!" Molly's father replied. "Mystery Island is a lovely place to spend the month of Celebrating. Now, I think it's time we visited the mystic.”
Molly hated visiting the Island Mystic. Her parents insisted they go every day, but all he seemed to say was untrue nonsense he'd made up on the spot. Her mother approached first of all.
“You will realise you have to pretend your name is Keith," he said, and it was all Molly could do to stop herself from laughing.
“I do quite like that name, and I suppose the mystic says it is important. Well, everyone, from now on my name is Keith!" Molly's mother stepped back happily and her father stepped forward.
“Your luck will alter in Mystery Island," the mystic told her father, who nodded happily.
“My luck has been bad here, so I guess that is a good sign. Well, it's your turn, Molly.”
Reluctantly, Molly stepped forward. The mystic smiled at her.
“This Christmas, you will get the best gift of all.”
“Oh, that's a good prophecy! What do you think this gift is, Molly?” her father burst in.
“Well, I...” Molly started, but the mystic interrupted.
“She thinks she knows, but she does not. Now please leave; there are other families waiting.”
Later on, after studying at the training school for the day, Molly was heading for the beach when she noticed the Mynci in front of her had dropped something. It looked like a piece of paper, but still, she picked it up.
“Hey, wait, you dropped something!" she yelled after the neopet, but he either did not hear her or chose to ignore her. She looked at the piece of paper in her hand, and realised it was a ticket. And not just any old ticket, a ticket to Terror Mountain! She had never before believed the mystic, but this couldn't just be a coincidence. Strange, however, that he said she didn't know what the gift was. What else would she want for Christmas?
Molly hurried home quickly and began to pack. She decided not to tell her parents where she was going; instead she left them a note. On it, she explained her plan, to leave that day, and while there earn enough money for a return ticket on the 31st, home in time to celebrate New Year, but there for enough days to get all the advent calendar prizes and enjoy herself. This was going to be the best Christmas ever, she was sure of it.
The boat ride across was comfortable, and Molly was glad to find out she did not suffer from sea-sickness. The boat was decorated with candy canes and Christmas lights, and played music that she found out later was from the Jazzmosis Christmas Special and Seasonal Chomby and the Fungus Balls. When she arrived at Terror Mountain, she gasped. It was just like she had imagined it, with its snow covered trees, igloos, stalagmites and off course slippery slope to slide down. The place constantly sparkled due to the snow and ice. It was cold, but delightfully so, and she made snow angels then and there, the snow unfamiliar and new and pleasant.
That first day, Molly found two Chias, Mika and Carassa, willing to let her stay with them in exchange for helping run their garage sale in the afternoons. She spent her second day in Terror Mountain being shown the ropes by Mika and learning more about this icy land. The third day, she played Cliffhanger until she had earned enough to buy a negg, the Neopia-famous Terror Mountain treat. The fourth day, she did one of Taelia's quests and bought herself an ice-cream. By the fifth day, she plucked up the courage to steal an item from the Snowager, but got blasted instead and spent the next day recovering. Eventually she lost count of the days, and almost forgot about her old life. She never wanted to go home after this.
Christmas day arrived. Molly thought today would be extra special, but when she woke up, she couldn't help feeling like something was missing. She stepped outside. All around her joyous neopets were celebrating, parents laughing and talking, young children eagerly opening present with shrieks of joy. Still, she felt like they all had something she didn't.
“Shouldn't you be with your family, young neopet?" a kindly Bruce asked her. "Christmas is no time to be alone."
'She's right,' thought Molly. 'That's what I need. I need my family.’ Eagerly, she ran to the harbour. The wind had never felt so cold before; it bit into her fur and pushed her back. But she kept on running. When she reached the harbour, however, her heart sank. 5,000 neopoint fare. 5k? She hadn't made that much! However, she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw there was a 50% reduction during Christmas day. However, pulling out her neopoints, she realised she only had 2,400 neopoints. 100 short! She walked over to the captain, a grumpy looking Skeith, with her neopoints.
“I don't have the right amount of neopoints to get on the boat, but I really need to get home! Please, can I board for just a little bit less?” she asked.
“Begging little Xweetok! I reduce my fare, and what do I get? Lazy little beggars, can't get the neopoints themselves. Go away before I report you for begging!”
“But it's Christmas! Please?”
“Christmas?" The Skeith snorted. "Where I come from, we don't even have Christmas. Now off with you!”
Molly was near to tears when she heard another neopet talking with the Skeith.
“I'll pay her fare, you miser; now let her on board." Molly realised she was talking about her! She could get home! She looked up at the neopet, to discover it was the same Mynci who had dropped the ticket what seemed like years ago. Filled with gratitude, she began to thank her, but she had slipped away, disappearing into the crowd.
“Well then, you beggar, guess you better get on board," the Skeith bellowed at her. Molly scanned the crowd for the Mynci once more before stepping on board.
“My baby!" Molly's mother wept and pulled her into a hug. "I've been so worried!”
“You're early." Her father smiled at her.
“I couldn't spend Christmas alone." She smiled back.
“We’ve got you a present!" Her mother beamed. "You'll love it!" She took out a large cardboard box, wrapped in red paper. Eagerly, Molly opened it.
“A polarchuck!" she cried. "Oh Mum, he's lovely! Thank you so much! But you didn't need to. I know now Christmas isn't all about presents and turkey and snow and pine trees. It's about family."
Later that night, the Mynci who had helped her slipped into her bedroom.
“Who are you?" Molly asked. "You've done so much for me, and I don't even know your name!”
“I'm a normal neopet, just like you, who heard you wanted to go to Terror Mountain. I try and help as many neopets as I can get the best gift of all at Christmas.”
“Which is?" asked Molly, but she already knew.
“To find the true meaning of Christmas. But you're only half right. Christmas is also about helping others as well as family.”
“Yes, that's right!" cried Molly. "You've done so much for me this Christmas, but how do I pay you back?”
“Don't," she said. "Pay someone else instead.”
“Of course!" cried Molly. "The 2,400 NP I earned! It's not yet midnight; I can still buy somebody a Christmas gift!" And with that she left, running to the marketplace.
The next day, Molly received a few neomails from friends she had made in Terror Mountain, talking about their Christmas presents, and asking what she got. She wrote back to them about her polarchuck, and thanked them for the Christmas cards they had sent her. In each neomail, she signed off in the same way:
‘This Christmas I got the best gift of all. And next year, I’ll give it to you too.’