To Give is to Receive
Becka glanced around eagerly as she followed Quinn, her owner, through the throng of people and pets. All around them were shouts for specific items and various amounts of Neopoints, but Quinn ignored them all. Becka’s feet were getting tired, and she wondered when they would give up on finding a hidden deal, and go home. Just when she couldn’t take the noise anymore, they stopped short.
Becka stood on her toes to peek at what had so suddenly caught Quinn’s interest. Laying out before them were nine worn pieces of a map to what looked like an underwater lab. She gasped quietly when she realized which lab this map led to. She had heard many stories about pets going to use the lab ray. Sometimes the results fulfilled your grandest dream. Sometimes they ruined them.
"Autumn has been collecting these over the past few weeks," Quinn looked down at Becka. "Should we surprise her with a full set?"
The Vandagyre pushed her Santa hood out of her eyes and squawked when she saw the asking price, "But I thought you were saving up for Sebastian’s stealth paint brush. Or what about Renee’s faerie paint brush? Zoey wants to be painted royal too." She thought about the Gelert, Xweetok, and Zafara that had stayed home. As the only one of her siblings to be painted, Becka felt it her duty to make sure the others got their wishes fulfilled too. That couldn’t happen if Quinn gave in to a silly impulse while browsing the trading post.
"I’ll start saving for them again," her owner pulled out a bag of Neopoints. "I find that if I’m free with my money, and I take the time to help others, I always get something greater in return, and have enough to fill my needs."
"But what about the things we want?" Becka frowned. They’d been saving every single one for weeks. She felt a wave of anxiety as Quinn placed the bag on the trading post counter, offering them for the completed map.
"Sometimes we give up the things we want now for the things we want in the long run," Quinn explained.
"But don’t we want the map now, and the paint brushes in the long run?"
Quinn chuckled, "Or do we want the paint brushes now, and the ability to help those less fortunate than ourselves in the future?"
Becka thought about it. She wasn’t sure which came first. Quinn always wanted to help others out. She often looked up items to see if she could fulfill the wishes of those around her, putting off her own. It seemed to give her a happiness Becka didn’t understand. "But if we keep giving up our savings, we’ll never get what we want, no matter when it is that we want it."
"My sister has worked hard to find the pieces of this map. Your cousin Attalai wants to become a Lutari. We can give Autumn the ones she doesn’t have and sell the rest to start building our savings up again. Don’t worry," Quinn smiled and turned back to finish the transaction, but froze suddenly. Becka felt her heart drop as she realized the bag of Neopoints was gone, as well as the map.
"B-but..." Quinn looked shocked. Tears filled her eyes as she stared at the empty space before her. "H-how?"
Becka felt sick. She hadn’t seen how it happened either. All she knew was that all their savings were gone, and they had nothing to show for it. There would be no surprise for Quinn’s sister. They were going to have to start all over.
Quinn quickly reported the theft to the police. Unfortunately, she was informed that it may be impossible to recover the map or the stolen Neopoints. Becka watched nervously as Quinn did her best to hold it together, and called her sister to let her know what had happened.
It wasn’t fair. They had worked hard for that money, and it was supposed to go towards fulfilling the dreams of her brother and sisters, or at least towards Attalai and Autumn’s dreams. The police should replace it; do everything they could to save them from another couple months of living off omelettes. Or maybe Quinn shouldn’t have let herself get carried away in the first place. At that thought, Becka felt a flash of anger towards her owner, who was now in tears.
By the time Quinn hung up the phone, the Vandagyre was ready to snap at her owner, and let her know what an awful mom she had been. They’d have to go home and tell the others what happened. They’d have to tell them that their dreams had been crushed. She could already see the disappointment in her siblings’ eyes.... But as Becka opened her mouth, they were approached by a stranger.
"I heard you talking about what happened," the soft voice filled Becka with peace and calm. "Here. I hope this helps."
Becka’s heart filled with love as she caught a glimpse of the faerie Lutari morphing potion Quinn was now holding. She barely listened as her owner stumbled through a sentence of gratitude. It looked like Attalai would get her wish after all. The potion was tucked away safely, and the stranger bid them farewell.
Quinn smiled and turned to Becka, "When we give up what we want to help fulfil the dreams of others, miracles do happen."
"But we still don’t have anything left. And you’re going to give that to Autumn, so we can’t sell it."
"We’ll be okay," her owner affirmed. "We saved it all once. We can do it again. For now, let’s get this to Autumn. I can’t wait to see her face. I can’t wait to see Attalai’s face!"
They hadn’t taken ten steps before another person stopped them. And another. Each individual offering assistance to the pair as news of their plight quickly spread through the crowds. Gifts were thrust to them, and Quinn graciously accepted each one. From scratch cards to pieces of the very map that had caused so much trouble, slowly the prospect of saving up what they lost became more and more hopeful.
Becka thought she might burst with happiness as they finally made their way home. They didn’t have enough to make back what had been lost, but seeing the kindness of other owners and their pets had filled her with a hope that she hadn’t had before. It sparked something in her that she had never felt.
As soon as they got home, Becka began planning and plotting. She pulled out a calendar, and counted the few Neopoints that she had kept hidden in her bedroom. As the sun was setting, and Quinn was reworking their finances out for the next few weeks, the Christmas Vandagyre sat back and admired her work. With the holiday season approaching, she wanted to take the feeling she had and share it with others. Every day she had an item planned out that she could donate to the money tree, or a gift to give to a friend.
Quinn was right, after all. Giving what they had saved up left them open to receiving something greater than anything Neopoints could buy; hope, love, and a wonderful sense of gratitude that would carry over and make this season the best holiday season ever.