Christmas at the Soup Kitchen
*beep* *beep* *beep*went the alarm clock, loudly announcing that it was time for a new day to start. The Jelly Poogle in the bed next to it groaned, sleepily rolling over to fumble for the "snooze" button. As she did so, however, a wave of guilt crashed over her. 'I shouldn't be sleeping in on a day like this,' she thought warily. After rubbing the sleep from her eyes Giubble tossed aside her warm covers and stood.
Goose bumps arose in response to the sudden coolness that greeted her. Not wanting to wake the rest of her family, Giubble blindly searched for her warmest clothes. Within a few minutes she was dressed and quietly tiptoeing down the stairs towards the kitchen. She started to warm up a pot of water to make herself some hot chocolate as she gathered the donations she'd collected: a large bag stuffed full of used Neopet clothes, toys, and blankets.
Her Neoschool had been more than happy to help her out with her cause by contributing items they didn't need for the Christmas Drive. When the water was boiling, Giubble added it to her thermos of powdered chocolate, shook it up a bit, and scurried out the door. Since her family lived in Meridell Giubble had to take the ferry across the expanse of water separating her from Neopia Central.
After a short walk on a snow-fallen ground to the port she took another drink of hot chocolate to warm her insides and continued to drag the huge bag behind her. "Morning, Carl!" she called out to the Brown Eyrie who took up tickets for the ferry.
"Hey, Giub! Shouldn't you be at home resting on your break?" he asked.
"There are Neopets in need even during Christmas," Giubble said matter-of-factly, handing him her ticket.
"Ah, a heart of gold you've got, Giub. See you in a few hours." Carl chuckled, waving her through. Giubble smiled, murmured a modest thanks, and heaved her bag up onto the ferry with her. She sighed in relief at finally getting to take a break. As the last of the few Neopets who were riding on the ferry boarded, Carl signaled to the Captain that all was clear.
The temperature had hit the lowest point all year that early morning; Giubble rubbed her gloved hands together to warm them. She felt something icy on her nose and looked up to find that the cloudy sky was now releasing a light snow that slowly drifted down to the habitants of Neopia. After a little less than a half hour of riding the ferry, it finally came to a stop on the other side. Giubble grabbed her now empty thermos and the donations as she made her way towards the streets of Neopia Central.
The feeling that Giubble got once she saw the familiar twinkling of small lights and greenery coursing throughout the streets was indescribable. Decorations had always been something she simply loved. They brought a joy to her that represented unity, peace, and beauty. After gazing listlessly into shop windows and smiling at various Neopets decked out in Santa costumes, she began to weave through the hundreds of small stands set up by average Neopians.
Finally she came upon a comfy-sized cottage in the shape of a large soup bowl. Poking her head through the slightly ajar wooden door she called, "Good morning!" The Soup Faerie looked up and acknowledged Giubbles' presence with a quick motion for her to come inside.
She was huddled over a big pot of soup, as usual, adding one of her strange spices for the finishing touch. Giubble set aside her things and pulled on an apron, beginning to set up bowls on an orderly table for the Neopets to grab soup from. When the Faerie was satisfied with her work she began to fill the bowls up, working rapidly. Giubble jumped in alongside her, knowing that the Faerie was simply too busy to talk.
She sometimes wished, though, that the Soup Faerie would express a small amount of thanks for the constant labor she poured into assisting her. She quickly pushed this thought away as the door to the Kitchen was opened, followed by many hungry Neopets. Remembering her bag, Giubble ran to open it and began to sort through its contents. Each time she saw a Neopet finishing their soup, she took their bowl and replaced it with a set of clothes and a blanket.
Neopets with children received a toy, as well. It took longer to feed everyone than usual - bad weather brought in more Neopets wanting a meal to thaw out their frozen bones and a few minutes with shelter. Giubble loved to help out others; she often noticed, though, that the Neopets she helped feed had no life in their eyes, no hope. She was grateful just to see the glow of thankfulness from some when she handed them their clothes. Finally, the line ended.
Giubble handed out one last toy to a young Blue Kyrii and smiled at his mother, wishing them a good day. She looked over at her pile - she had a few items left over. She neatly folded and stacked them on an empty shelf in the back of the cottage so that she wouldn't have to haul them back the following days. She hung up her apron on the hook near the sink and started to pull all of her winter clothes back on as the Soup Faerie dried the freshly-washed bowls.
"Bye, have a good day," Giubble said, heading for the door.
"You too," the Soup Faerie replied absent-mindedly.
Once outside, Giubble headed back down the same path she had come here on and thought back to the time when she had asked the Faerie if she could help her. In those days, almost a year ago, the Faerie had been grateful for her efforts. Now it felt as though she preferred to work alone again. Frowning, Giubble walked to the ferry and rode it back to Meridell.
"Look, Mom! My new toy is so neat!" said the Blue Kyrii, whose name was Adam. He continued to roll the plastic truck back and forth across the cobblestone while making rumbling noises.
His mother, named Belle, smiled at his excitement and looked down at him. They were both much warmer with the clothes the Jelly Poogle had given them. "Take care of it now, so that it'll last a long time," she said. Adam nodded, engrossed in his imagination.
Since they had been the last two to leave, Belle had noticed the Poogle leaving, as well. She had a downcast look about her; Belle wondered how such a nice Poogle could feel badly. The more she thought about it, the more Belle was sure she wanted to do something special for her.
Giubble opened the back door to her Neohome, making sure she stomped her boots on the concrete before going inside. She then laid them on the doormat and headed towards the stairs.
"Hey Giubble, how was your day?" came a voice from the living room. It was Blue, Giubble's owner.
"It was okay, just busy at the Soup Kitchen." Giubble sighed.
"Why don't you take a shower and then relax in your room for a while? You deserve it, after all," said Blue.
"Okay, I'll do that." Giubble smiled. After she had cleaned up Giubble lay on her bed, tired from the days' events. Maybe there was another way she could help Neopians - she could volunteer at the Pound. But no, Giubble decided, she was too attached to seeing the familiar faces at the Kitchen, as well as to the Faerie, even though they had grown apart these past few months.
Somewhere between thoughts of the Soup Kitchen and how she still needed to buy Christmas gifts for everyone, Giubble drifted off to an exhausted sleep. Before she knew it, the familiar *beep* *beep* *beep* had come again, along with another early morning. She woke to find that someone - most likely Blue - had covered her up with a blanket. Just like the previous morning, Giubble headed for Neopia Central, greeting Carl on her way.
Walking down the streets, Giubble could see the Kitchen in the distance. But for some reason it looked as if it were glowing. She continued forward, curious as to what was going on. When she was close enough to properly view what had happened, Giubble gasped. The Kitchen was decorated from top to bottom in Christmas decorations. Bright, colored lights had been strung around its spherical figure along with bows and bells of all sorts.
The leafless trees were covered with sparkly lights that blinked randomly and ornaments handmade from bits of ribbon, yarn, colored paper, and fake jewels. Many animated figures such as Santa's sleigh and his eight Raindorfs gave a life-like feel to the yard. Somewhere light, tinkly music danced into the cold air. Glitter was scattered across the windows of the Kitchen, adding the final touch.
As she drew closer, a large group of Neopets came from around back on either side, smiling. Behind them followed the Soup Faerie.
"What's going on? Should I have come by sooner and helped you put these up?" Giubble asked worriedly.
The Soup Faerie laughed in good-natured amusement. "No, of course not, Giub. I'll let Belle explain."
Belle stepped forward. "We did this for you, Giubble. Since we don't have any items to give, I came to the Soup Faerie and asked her for some ideas.
"She said you mentioned last Christmas that you adore decorations.. so all of us got together and tried to make it look nice," she said in her soft voice.
Giubble was still confused. "It's absolutely wonderful.. but why?"
This time, another Neopet came forward - a Speckled Grundo. "You and the Soup Faerie do so much for us, especially around Christmas time. Belle held a meeting and made us realize that we don't show you enough gratitude as we should. I hope that this gift- " he said, looking towards the decked out Kitchen, "-shows you how much we appreciate your care for us."
The group murmured in agreement. Giubble was close to tears. "I can honestly say that this is the most lovely gift I have ever received for Christmas. Thank you all so much," she breathed, blissfully gazing at the array of colors that illuminated the Soup Kitchen. The homeless Neopets beamed, glad that Giubble had liked their present.
"Now, who's hungry?" asked the Soup Faerie. Everyone chuckled and began to file into the Kitchen, where soup had already been set out.
As Giubble was about to head inside to see if anyone needed anything, she was stopped by the Faerie's gentle hand on her shoulder. "Giubble, I'm sorry if I've seemed distant lately. I guess after you'd been here for so long I quit thinking about how I treated you socially. I began to simply know that you were coming. It was wrong for me to take you for granted. Can we still remain friends?" she asked.
"Of course," Giubble said, smiling happily. After everyone had been fed for the day the Soup Faerie flew Giubble home so that she wouldn't have to walk so far to the ferry. When they landed on the shores of Meridell, Giubble thanked the her and waved to Carl before heading to her house. Since the Faerie had set up early that day and had flown her back, Giubble got home before the afternoon. After explaining things excitedly to Blue she took a nap to catch up on all the sleep she'd lost the past few days.
She woke a little while later to a soft knocking on her door. Yawning, Giubble stretched and called, "Come in."
Tadri the Purple Poogle came in, followed by Dubach the Chocolate Ogrin. "Would you like to come sledding with us, Giubble? If you're not busy..." Tadri asked.
Giubble smiled. "I'd love too. Let me get my coat," she said, rushing to her closet. Within minutes they were outside racing on their sleds, gliding freely down a steep hill behind their home.
As she crashed yet again into a large pile of fluffy snow, Giubble laughed with her siblings. She realized, then, that Christmas was not only about helping others, but also about enjoying the little moments like this with the amazing Neopets she was lucky enough to have in her life.