Feeling Like Christmas
T here's just something about watching snow fall from the warmth of your Neohome, Emmett thought contentedly to himself. The sight of the snow drifting down to cover everything in a thick, white blanket was entrancing. He sat on a couch in his living room, but found that he wasn't able to concentrate on the book open in his lap. Whatever it is, this time of year always seems especially wonderful.
Although Emmett was a Halloween Kyrii, Christmas was his favorite holiday. Halloween was a close second, of course, but Emmett still found himself looking forward to Christmas more than anything else. He loved the big holiday dinners, daily trips to Terror Mountain to visit the Advent Calendar, and of course, opening presents with his sisters and brother on Christmas morning.
Christmas was quickly approaching, and was now just a matter of days away. Seeing whereas he wasn't getting much reading done with the snow distracting him, Emmett decided that if he left to go do some shopping, he'd at least have a good reason to be out in the snow.
He closed the book, ran to his room, and placed it back on the shelf. Emmett turned to his dresser and pulled a small, velvet pouch out from one of the drawers. Inside were the Neopoints that he'd been carefully saving over the past few weeks. It wasn't large amount by any means, but it should be enough to get gifts for his siblings. Emmett tucked the pouch in his pocket of his trousers and made his way out the front door.
As soon as he was outside, Emmett was glad he'd chosen today to go shopping. The snow was piling ever-higher on the trees and plants in the garden. It looked like a picture off of a postcard. The air was crisp and cold, but he found that low temperatures rarely bothered him, thanks to the thick, brown fur all Halloween Kyriis have.
Neopia Central was especially crowded this close to the Christmas. Lots of other pets were bustling to and fro, trying to get their shopping done. The shops had fantastic Christmas displays in their windows, and a few pets were standing with their noses pressed against the glass, looking inside. Emmett joined the crowds and began searching for gifts for his sisters and brother.
His first stop was the Toy Shop to find something for his younger brother, who was a baby Mynci. Emmett wished he had put more thought into what his brother might like best before he came in, because now that he had so many options to choose from, it was a little overwhelming. The shelves were stocked with dozens of different plushies, colorful rubber balls, and just about every other toy a Neopet could ever think to want. After walking the aisles, he decided on a couple puzzles that would be suitable for a baby pet.
Next, Emmett made his way to the Grooming Parlour. He rarely came here himself, but knew that this was his younger sister's favorite place in Neopia. This sister was a Kougra, and she seemed to enjoy the finer things in life. Her fur coat was always meticulously kept, so he thought she might like some new grooming supplies. After some assistance from one of the employees, Emmett found some Chokato shampoo and conditioner that he was sure his sister would love.
Emmett's last stop was the Book Shop. His older sister was a Usul, but she was the smartest pet he knew. She was quite the bookworm, and had seen her read a book cover to cover in one sitting many times before. Her Christmas list has, almost exclusively, had the titles of books she wanted to read, and Emmett was able to find a few of them in the shop.
Before he knew it, the afternoon had flown by. The time had passed quickly in a frenzy of Christmas shopping and extra-long waits in lines, but Emmett had managed to find the gifts he needed, and still had some money left in his velvet pouch. He counted the remaining Neopoints, and decided that he had more than enough left to stop and get himself something hot to drink before heading home.
The Art Centre was just as crowded as the main streets of Neopia Central. Once he was inside the coffee shop, Emmett ordered himself a Candy Pumpkin Latte. He paid for the drink, pocketed his remaining Neopoints, and found a seat at a table in the corner. Because of the cold weather, it seemed that he wasn't the only one who had the idea to stop in for a warm drink. Dozens of other pets sat at similar tables, talking to friends or quietly sipping their coffees and teas.
It didn't take long before his attention was turned towards a group of pets in the center of the coffee shop. In the middle of the group was a Christmas Zafara. She was wearing a dark green gown, and spun in a circle so she could show her friends her outfit. Her lovely white wings were extended proudly, and a golden halo floated above her head. Emmett could hear the other pets talking over one another, making comments about how beautiful she looked.
"That dress is so gorgeous!" One friend, an Aisha, gushed.
"Thanks." The Zafara replied airily. She gave the skirt another spin, and her friends ooh-ed and aaw-ed once more.
"It's brand new, from this year's Stocking Stufftacular." The Zafara continued. "My owner always talks about how much fun it is to dress up Christmas pets this time a year. She says that she's going to start entering me in the Customization Spotlight. She thinks I have a real chance of winning a gold trophy."
Her friends voiced their agreement, and the Zafara seemed to bask in the complements and praise.
Watching the Zafara and her friends gave Emmett an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach. He suddenly became aware of how odd a Halloween painted pet must look this time of year. Halloween had been weeks ago, and most pets had closeted their fall clothing in favor of more winter appropriate wear. All around him, all he saw were matching hat and scarf sets, holiday dresses, and thick outerwear.
With some sadness, Emmett realized that he had never even felt the need for warm accessories, due to the thick fur that came along with being a Halloween Kyrii. In fact, all he ever wore were the tattered flannel shirt and trousers that came with his paint job, and those certainly didn't look anything like what the other pets were wearing. Emmett didn't feel like he belonged in the coffee shop, among all of the other pets who certainly looked ready for Christmas. Compared to everyone around him, he stuck out like a sore thumb! Emmett gulped down the rest of his latte, grabbed his shopping bags, and rushed out of the coffee shop.
Outside, the snow was still falling, but the sight of it failed to make him as happy as it did earlier in the day. Emmett's eyes stung with tears, but he didn't want to cry in the middle of the crowded Art Centre. Keeping his head down, he hurried along, barely paying attention to where he was going. He didn't want to be anywhere near other Neopets right now. It took some time, but finally, he found a secluded spot under the branches of a large tree. Once he was sure that no one could see him, he broke down in tears.
He felt like such a fool. Christmas had always been his favorite, but now he didn't feel like he had any place among all the other pets celebrating the holiday. Everyone around him looked festive and jolly, and Emmett looked... scary.
"Young Kyrii, what's wrong?" The words seemed to come out of nowhere.
Emmett jumped in surprise. He looked around, but couldn't see anyone else around him. "W-who's there?"
"Why, it's me, the Money Tree!" Emmett looked further up the trunk and saw a face, clearly visible in the gnarled bark. The tree continued to speak with a chuckle."What are you doing back there? I must say, most of my visitors come from the other direction."
"Sorry, I just wanted to be alone for a little while." Emmett whimpered. He didn't realize that the quiet spot he found was the back of the Money Tree. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands. "I can leave, I didn't mean to disturb you."
"No need to hurry off, you're welcome to stay until you feel better. Can you tell me what's troubling you?"
Emmett responded in a small voice. "It's going to sound silly."
"If it's got you this upset, then I doubt that it's silly." The Money Tree replied kindly.
"I... I just feel like I don't belong, with it being Christmas time. I usually love being painted Halloween, but suddenly, I feel like I don't fit it. Everyone around me is decorating and dressing up for Christmas, but here I am, looking like I'm ready to go trick-or-treating!"
"Not everyone is decorating and dressing up for Christmas." The Money Tree said simply.
Emmett suddenly felt ashamed. He hadn't even though of it that way. He was fortunate enough to have a nice Neohome and enough neopoints to buy all his siblings presents. He even had enough money left over after shopping to get himself a treat at the coffee shop. Yet here he was, complaining to the Money Tree about his problems, when there were some who couldn't afford what he had.
The Money Tree seemed to guess what he was thinking. "I'm not trying to make you feel bad. Of course, if you are able to help those less fortunate than yourself, this is certainly the season to do so! Now, what's in your bags?"
Emmett was confused by the sudden subject change. "Huh?"
"I was just asking what you had there in your bags." The Money Tree repeated.
"Oh." Emmett looked at the shopping bags around him. "They're Christmas gifts for my sisters and brother."
"That's what I expected." The Money Tree said, smiling gently. "And why did you get them gifts?"
"Because Christmas is coming up."
"True," The Money Tree, chuckling again. "But why do you give them gifts on Christmas? Really think about that."
Emmett considered this for a few moments. "Well, because I want to make them happy. I got them things that I think they will really like. I guess I wanted to be a part of making their Christmas special."
The Money Tree nodded in agreement. "Christmas is about so much more than things, young Kyrii. It isn't about the nicest clothes, the most expensive gifts, or anything that neopoints can get you. Yes, some people enjoy dressing up or going all out with decorating, but that doesn't mean that those who don't are any less likely to enjoy Christmas. This is the season to spend quality time with those you love, and doing what you can to bring joy to those around you. Being painted Halloween doesn't mean that you can't do that, now does it?"
Emmett sniffled. "No, it doesn't."
"I'm glad to hear it." The Money Tree smiled down at him. "Now, come on, up you get. It's cold out, and by the look of things, you've got to get home and start wrapping some presents!"
"Yeah, I guess so." Emmett stood and brushed the snow off his clothes. As he got up, it felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "Thanks for cheering me up."
"Of course! Merry Christmas, young Kyrii."
Emmett started to begin back towards his Neohome, but stopped after a few paces. He turned back to the Money Tree and dropped the velvet pouch with his remaining neopoints in the donation box. He grinned up at the Money Tree.