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Free Fiction

Here’s a silly story I wrote several years ago. I still love it.

 

The Best Little Christmas Ever

by

Linda Jordan

It all started when Schewandalii, Schew for short, stopped in at a grungy looking convenience store on his way home from work. It was a long drive to and from Santa Barbara, so the Setagean Consulate hired a car service for some of its employees. Schew was lucky enough to qualify. The human driver sat in the car while Schew went inside for a giant grape sloppee and picked up a newspaper.

The cashier stared at him openly. Some humans were like that. They hadn’t seen enough aliens or perhaps they resented the contract the world governments had made with the Unity, the group of alien governments. Many humans, he knew, saw it as a take over. His people, from Setagea, saw it as a sharing of the universe’s resources. Earth was not meant just for humans alone.

He slurped the drink through his mouth, feeling the sugar buzz through his twelve blue feelers. Schew sighed with pleasure. Earth did have some wonderful things.

He ambled back out to the car and stretched his arm to twice the normal length to get his drink in the cup holder, then rolled into the car using his five legs, and pulled the door closed.

“Home James,” he said, mimicking something he’d heard in a silly old movie. Although this driver’s name was Jonathon.

The driver didn’t laugh. Humans had no sense of humor.

He flipped open the newspaper. Earthling’s still insisted on using them. Even in this day and age. Simply amazing. He liked the scent of the hemp paper. The texture was pleasing, as well. His associates at the Consulate had accused him of going native. It was partly true. He loved everything, well almost everything about Earth. He wasn’t crazy about the smog, but he could live with it.

Paging through the newspaper, he was struck by all the Christmas ads. Only seven more shopping days, they said. His family had never celebrated Christmas, they’d only watched from afar, marveling at how the holiday had sprung up and been translated through various myths and religious traditions, then by commerce. Religion was nonexistent on their own planet, so there were no religious holidays. Schew and his family had been on Earth for ten years. They’d come one year after the Unity treaty had been signed.

It was time then. He’d always wanted to, but life was always so busy. He’d have to find out what was involved in Christmas. Shopping for gifts seemed to be a major activity. What fun that would be.

He loved shopping. And gifts.

But Christmas was a huge commitment. Would the podlings go for it? And Mabel, what would Mabel think? His feelers wilted, just a little.

The driver pulled into the driveway at Schew’s house. It was a modest 1980’s vintage rambler. Schew and his podlet, Mabel had fallen in love with it at first sight. They moved in and immediately painted it Cotton Candy Pink. With Screaming Orange Sunset trim. Just looking at the house made him feel happy. And that was good after the day’s work he’d had.

Schew got out of the car as the driver opened the door. He grabbed the newspaper and the half finished sloppee and moved towards the house, but not before noticing the driver’s look of disgust. After which the man whipped out a towel and began to dry off the back seat of the car with exaggerated motions. Earth simply wasn’t prepared for dealing with aliens. On other Unity planets, moisture absorbing and obliterating covers were used for seating areas. Humans. Sometimes they were brilliant, sometimes mystifying.

He opened the front door of the house and was nearly bowled over by Mabel.

“Sloppee, you brought home a sloppee,” she said, grabbing it and bouncing down the hallway.

He laughed, a deep, gurgling laugh, which filled him with desire. He dropped the damp newspaper on the entryway table and chased her down the hall.

She went through the kitchen and out onto the back patio, made of concrete that they’d painted Key Lime Green. By the time he caught up with her, she’d finished the sloppee and had put the cup down.

“Ooooh,” she said, “That felt so good.”

He politely waited until the sugar had made its way through her feelers, then he pounced. She bounced across the patio, giggling, as she allowed him to catch her. Their feelers entwined, along with their arms and legs. He caught the sugar buzz from her feelers and deep behind it felt her reaching out to him. She touched him as deeply as he touched her. Sensations of fullness, skin against skin stroking each other and tickling nerve endings filled him with joy. He could even taste the grapeness.

They lay entwined for some time, basking in the sun on the slippery concrete, their slime forming a pool around them. He stroked the skin closest to her eyes, gazing at her. They’d had four sets of podlings together and he still loved her like the day she’d been born. She was amazing.

Finally, they separated and she stood and said, “Let’s go for a swim.”

“Okay,” he said.

They leapt into the pool, bobbing around in the murky water, searching for mosquito larvae and algae clumps until satisfied. Then they sat on the edge, in the sun. That’s when he brought up his crazy idea.

“I think we should celebrate Christmas this year.”

“Christmas! Whatever for?” she asked.

He could tell from her accent that she’d been watching the BBC Channel again.

“Because, why not? We never have. It would be fun. We could do all the Christmasy things and the podlings would have a great time. And there’s gifts.”

“Gifts. From who?” she asked, scrunching up her mouth.

“I’m not sure. But I think everyone buys everyone else gifts.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Everyone always complains about Christmas. How much work it is. How they don’t know what to get Aunt Kalissi. That sort of thing.”

“Yet they turn around and do the same thing the very next year. It must be fun. And I do like all the lights.”

“Ooooh,” she said. “That’s right. The lights. I do adore all the neighbor’s lights every year. Our cute little house would look even cuter with lights on it.”

“And they’re selling silvery lighted Christmas trees. There was an ad in the paper. Wouldn’t that be nice in our living room?”

She twisted a feeler between her long articulated fingers. “What exactly is the purpose of a Christmas Tree? I’ve never really understood.”

“I don’t know. We may have to do some research. But I’d love to have an old fashioned Earth Christmas.”

“Okay,” she said. “Let’s do it. Christmas is on. I’ll talk to the neighbors and see what I can find out.”

His feelers popped up, despite himself. Mabel never wanted to talk to the neighbors.

By the time their podlings: Two, Four, Six and Nine, got home from school Schew and Mabel had made a plan.

“We’re going to celebrate Christmas this year,” he announced.

“Oooh,” squealed Two, with excitement. “What’s Christmas?”

“I don’t wanna,” said Four.

Six asked, “Why?” with a sneer.

Nine just shrugged and went to its room.

Mabel turned to Schew and whispered, “Just ignore it. It’s going through the change. It’ll come around, you’ll see.”

Schew continued, “Christmas is an Earth holiday that’s full of fun. We’ll decorate the house and shop for surprise gifts for each other and have a great time.

“Oooh,” squealed Two.

“I don’t wanna,” said Four.

“Why?” asked Six. With a smaller sneer.

“Because we want to have fun!” said Schew. “Now, who wants to go buy Christmas lights with me? We need to get into the Christmas Spirit around here?”

“I wanna go!” shrieked Two.

He knew Two would agree to almost anything. Except ice cream. Two hated ice cream with a passion.

Four shrugged and said, “Okay.”

Six said, “Why not?”

“I’m going,” said Mabel.

“You coming Nine?” asked Schew, raising his voice.

There was no answer.

Schew went down the hall to its room, turned off the blaring music and asked, “You coming?”

“I’ve got homework,” said Nine.

“Homework. Who cares? This is Christmas. C’mon.”

“I suppose,” said Nine.

They rolled into the big autovan and Schew programmed in their destination. The Everything Mart. The store where if they didn’t carry it, they’d make it for you, right there on the spot. That technology had come from the Cassions. They were brilliant at transforming things.

The six of them walked, rolled, bounced, limped, ambled and slid into the brightly lit store. Schew immediately caught the scent of chocolate in the air. It was even Duveilian chocolate. So not only was the store using sensory stimulus to keep people around, but to get them aroused as well. He and Mabel better be careful. They didn’t need more podlings until these four were gone. Room sharing had not worked well with the first two sets.

“There they are,” said Mabel, grabbing a shopping cart and pointing to a display of Christmas lights.

They rushed over and began loading lights into the cart and then decided that still wasn’t enough, so they got two more carts and filled those as well.

Then in the fourth cart, they put in a box containing a shiny, silver and teal Christmas tree, plus boxes and boxes of all sorts of ornaments. Schew especially like the box containing all sorts of aliens.

Mabel screeched when she found ornaments of her favorite English TV series, a remake of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Two grabbed a box of multicolored ponies. Four wanted spooky ghosts and werewolves. Six picked a box of spaceships. And nine, well nine, as usual, pretended to not be with them. But it did grab a box of musical instrument ornaments.

They decided that was enough decorations for this trip. They’d get more another day. It would take them all night to put these up.

As they ran things through the auto-checkout, Mabel grabbed a container of eggnog from a cooler nearby.

“The neighbors told me about eggnog. We have to drink this while we’re decorating,” she said, plopping it onto the scanner. “We’ve got some alcohol at home. At least for the two of us.”

When it was all added up, the cost was 2,492.54 Unity Credits. Schew scanned his hand, thinking that was an awful lot for just decorations. They still had gifts to buy and events to go to.

At home, they unloaded the whole mess in the living room and began sorting through which lights would go outside and which inside.

“Let’s put the tree up first,” said Two.

“We need to put the outside lights up while it’s still light out,” said Nine.

Schew gazed at the setting sun. Well, at least they’d have Christmas lights to work by if they plugged them in. They chose four hundred strands for outside the house and six hundred for inside. He set Mabel, Two and Four to start work on the inside.

Six and Nine went to help him outside. In the garage, there was a ladder that was tall enough to reach the roofline. It took all three of them to carry it out and set the thing up. Schew looked up at it, his abbleblabble shrinking. He was afraid of heights. He hadn’t counted on roof lights as part of celebrating Christmas.

Six and Nine stared at him.

Finally Nine said, “I’ll go up.”

Nine climbed the ladder stringing the lights along with it. It snapped a glue tab out of the package and attached the tab to the roof, then the light string to the tab. One section down. 399 to go.

They finally finished the outside lights just as the sun was coming up the next morning. The three of them stood in the street admiring their work. The cute little pink and orange house looked stunning, decked out in multicolored lights, twinkling and shifting colors. Schew could hardly wait till after sunset tonight to see what it looked like in the dark. They’d wrapped the palm trees and banana plants as well. And in back, the gazebo over the patio. The whole place looked like a hotel he and Mabel had stayed at for one of their honeymoons. It was on Richter 42. Magical times, yes, magical times.

They managed to get the ladder back into the garage, but they were all feeling shaky. Maybe that was what the eggnog was for.

Inside the house, everything was lit up. There were lights strung everywhere, even the floor. They made a game of it, trying to cross the floor without touching any cords or light bulbs. The tree hung from the ceiling, filled with all the beautiful ornaments.

Their little house looked extraordinary.

Mabel poured eggnog into glasses, adding the rubbing alcohol into his and hers. He drank some and decided it was pretty good tasting stuff.

Two loved it and asked for more, Four hated it, Six thought it was spiff and Nine drank, shrugged and went to its room.

Schew sat back in the lounging chair and said, “So. This is Christmas. I like it so far.”

Then he promptly fell asleep. And missed work. He slept all day.

He woke up at dinner time and said, “That eggnog put me out. I think I better save it for the weekend.”

Mabel said, “All of you were so tired, poor things. I let you all sleep.”

He rubbed his feelers. “Oh, the podlings aren’t at school. Good. We need to do more research on Christmas. Find more activities for us to do.”

They all sat in front of their screens, except for Nine, who said, “Screens are so old fashioned.” It refused to use one, still hoping its demand for an implant would be granted.

Not likely. Schew was an old fashioned Setagean. No reason to ruin a perfectly good body by cutting into it. Some things humans did were fine with him, but not that one.

“All the kids are doing it.”

“You’re not a kid. You’re a podling. You’re above all that.”

Nine whiffled his feelers about, just short of being insulting. Schew ignored him, just like Mabel had told him to do on those occasions. He’d forgotten what it was like to go through the change. It had been so long. Mabel had been studying up on it. She studied up on everything. Such a good leader, she was. He always felt so proud to be hers.

“There’s something called a nativity set,” said Four. “I think we need one.”

“Okay,” said Mabel, tapping her feelers against her bulbous head. Which meant she was adding it to a list.

“We need to watch something called The Nutcracker, it’s called a ballet,” said Two. “What’s a ballet?”

“Probably some type of eating competition,” said Mabel. “I’ll look into that.”

Six said, “Someone said we need to go look at vintage stores for decorations.”

“Added,” said Mabel. “Although I’m not sure what a vintage store is. Or what else we still need for Christmas.”

Nine said nothing. It perched on the couch, pretending not to be paying attention.

Schew searched for vintage stores, wondering what sort of wine they sold. The only one he could find nearby had closed an hour ago. Apparently, they didn’t cater to their customers. The family would have to go there tomorrow.

“I got tickets for ‘The Nutcracker’,” said Mabel. “It starts in thirty-five minutes. And it’ll take us twenty minutes to get there.”

“Okay, let’s go,” said Schew.

There was a flurry of activity ending with all of them settling into the autovan. Mabel programmed in the destination and they were off.

With ten minutes to spare, they arrived at the building. It was an old Earth building with gold painted columns at the entrance and filled with row after row of chairs. Schew looked around and could only see humans. They were the only Off Worlders at the ballet. Interesting.

The place had slippery wood floors and smelled of furniture polish. Which was very tasty.

Suddenly the lights went dim. He wondered if it was a power brown out.

Then in the front of the big room, the curtain rolled up and there were people moving about a huge Christmas tree. Which was on the floor! Imagine that. What a silly place for a tree. If you wanted that, why not just plant one in your yard?

Music filled the air and the story began. Although Schew couldn’t really understand it. He still had so much to learn about Earth.

Still, when the ballet was finished, they’d all enjoyed it.

“I never knew humans could move like that,” said Mabel, on their way out of the building.

“I liked the costumes,” said Two. “I want to wear clothes.”

“I liked the house,” said Six. “I want to live in that place.”

“I liked the food at intermission,” said Four.

“I thought the story was interesting,” said Schew. “What did you like?” he asked Nine.

“The lights, of course.”

After work and school the next day, they all gathered and decided to go to the vintage store that Schew had found.

They piled into the van and drove across town. Eddie’s End of the Line Antiques was in a part of the city, they’d never been in. It was squeezed in between a laundromat, whatever that was, and a used bookstore. The area wasn’t as brightly lit as any of the malls.

“Well, this doesn’t look promising,” said Schew.

“It must have something interesting,” said Mabel, wearing her ‘trying to be positive’ expression, which consisted of twining two feelers together.

“Okay, let’s make a game of it. Each of us will go inside and find one present for everyone in the family. You can’t look at anyone else while shopping to try to see what they’ve bought, you have to keep what you’re buying hidden from the rest of the family. The gifts are supposed to be a secret.”

Nine rolled its eyes.

Six sighed.

Four said, “I don’t wanna.”

Two said, “I’m too old for games.”

Mabel said, “I’m in.”

Schew opened the van door and they wandered inside the store. Eddie’s was filled floor to ceiling with stuff. The most amazing things he’d ever seen. Schew wandered through the aisles marveling at objects people had made, used and tossed aside. He found so many strange things. Schew finally had to ask a young man, wearing a neat, white shirt, navy colored pants and a badge which read I’m Abelard – How May I Help You?, who looked like he worked at the store, what they were. The items turned out to be a candle holder, a red wagon and a pair of television antenna. The names of which didn’t make clear what they were used for and the employee couldn’t tell him. Schew hadn’t a clue what most of the things in the store were, but they certainly were fascinating.

He picked up a bicycle tire pump for Four, not knowing what a bicycle was. Each time he found something interesting, Schew had to ask the young man what it was. Schew found a plastic pony for Two, who loved ponies. The young man clenched his fists. A model train set for Six, who loved history. The young man clenched his fists and his face turned red. A guitar for Nine, who loved music. The man’s face wrinkled up and drips of water ran down his face. He searched and searched a gift for Mabel and was about to give up, when he found a long, flowing piece of fabric in purple, red and flaming orange. It would look and feel fabulous wrapped around her feelers. The young man had disappeared. Schew hoped he was all right. Sometime he had that effect on humans, they were overcome by his friendliness.

He smuggled all his things up to the cash register. A large, balding man with a mustache sat on a stool and looked annoyed at having to get up.

“I’d like to buy these and I’ll also pay for whatever my family wants.”

“Christmas shopping, huh?”

“Yes. It’s our first time to celebrate it and we’re having so much fun.”

“Well, glad you’re in the spirit.”

He punched numbers into a machine and took Schew’s handprint. Then put everything into a large black bag.

Schew turned and was about to take his things out to the van, when he saw it. The balding man said it was a nativity set. It was stunning. And almost life size. The man pointed out a Joseph and Mary, two shepherds, five sheep, three wise men, three camels and a baby Jesus in the manger. And that they were all lit from inside.

“I want those too,” he said.

The man raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure? They’re a complete set, so they’re expensive. They’re eighty years old.”

“Yes, they’re just what I’ve been looking for!” said Schew. He looked at the price tag. 4,899.00 Unity Credits. Well, he could take it out of savings. They must have that much in savings. He’d never find such a perfect set again.

In the end, all six of them were crammed in the van, along with their black bags of presents and the nativity set, with camels, sheep and wise men sticking out the windows. Joseph and Mary had to be tied to the roof of the van. The store owner had to put the manger in last and slam the door shut. It was nice of Eddie, who the bald man turned out to be, to help load. Especially since they had spent 7,486.00 Unity Credits at his store.

When the autovan got to the end of their block, they looked in amazement as their house glowed.

“Look at all the lights,” said Four.

“I can’t see,” said Two.

“Brill,” said Six.

“Wow,” said Nine.

Mabel was silent, her face beamed with pleasure.

“See, now isn’t this fun?” said Schew.

They deposited the nativity set onto the front lawn, then the podlings dropped their gifts in their own rooms. Schew hid his under the couch. He didn’t know where Mabel put hers.

They decided to set up the nativity set in the back yard, by the swimming pool and the palm trees. The soft glow of the lights reflected off the green, murky pool, making it look like what Schew imagined a fairyland looked like. Although, he knew humans speculated as to whether fairies existed. But he’d seen a few, so he knew.

“What is the nativity set for?” asked Two.

“No idea,” said Schew.

“It’s some sort of story,” said Six. “Something about Christmas.”

“So, what are we going to do tomorrow?” asked Nine.

Mabel’s feelers twitched in surprise.

“I think tomorrow we wrap gifts and put them by the tree,” said Schew.

“Wrap them in what?” asked Mabel.

“I think we need to buy wrapping paper. And bows,” he said.

“I like bows,” said Four.

The next afternoon, they went shopping for gift wrap. It took five stores before they found the old fashioned stuff. Schew didn’t want to buy the recyclable printed boxes and bags everyone was selling. How would he fit things like a guitar into a box? And given the sizes of bags the podlings had, he knew they’d have the same problem.

“How many tubes can we buy?” asked Six.

“I think we better buy quite a lot,” said Mabel.

“We can always use what’s leftover next year,” said Schew. “I think ten tubes each.”

They chose their favorites. And fifty bags of bows. And several packages of tissue paper. Then they carried their loot home and locked themselves in their rooms. Schew had to make a trip to the warehouse store to get a case of tape. They’d forgotten about that.

“Don’t forget to mark on the outside of the present who it’s for!” yelled Mabel from her work room.

It took all night. Mabel and Schew had to help Two and Four wrap their gifts. But by sunrise, they were finished.

They collected them in a corner of the living room.

The next evening, they brought the ladder in and stuck all the gifts onto the ceiling.

“Our house is so beautiful,” sighed Two, looking up at the mixture of colored lights and presents crisscrossing the ceiling and in the middle, their Christmas tree.

“I think so too,” whispered Mabel.

Schew thought so too.

“What are we doing tomorrow night?” asked Six.

“Well, what’s left to do?” asked Schew.

“We need to plan Christmas dinner,” said Mabel. “Decide whether to go traditional or modern.

“Traditional,” said Six.

“Modern,” said Nine.

Two and Four shrugged, “Food,” they said in unison.

“How about some of both?” asked Schew.

“Okay,” Mabel. “I’ll plan a menu. Tomorrow, we shop. The next day we start cooking. We’ll finish cooking on Christmas Day.”

The next day, on his lunch hour, Schew added up how much they’d spent. With horror, he realized they’d spent two entire paychecks. And more. And there was still food to buy. How did Earthlings do this? Every year! He felt uneasy about the amount of money they’d spent. He emptied the savings account. That should be enough to cover everything until he got paid again.

He flipped open the news on his screen. One of the local stories was about homeless shelters being full of people and short of money. He had to ask the elevator man before he could find anyone who knew what a homeless shelter was. Sam was the only human who worked in the building during the day. Everyone else was an Off Worlder. That was the polite phrase Earthlings called aliens.

“Homeless shelters are places for people to stay when they don’t got no home,” he said.

“What do you mean, no home?”

“‘zactly that. No home, no house, no roof over they’s head,” said the elderly man. “They’s broke and poor. No money.”

“But why don’t they have money? Why do they have no place to live?”

“No job. Or they’s too sick, got kids to take care of, poisoned by alcohol or drugs. So many reasons.”

Schew’s mouth dropped open and his feelers stood on end. “And your world government doesn’t take care of them?”

“Not good enough.”

“That’s awful. That is absolutely and totally wrong,” he said. “And is this a big problem here on Earth?”

“Yessir. What you think all them bonfires about as you drive into town? People tryin’ to stay warm. Livin’ in the ruins of old buildings. It’s horrible.”

“My, my. I had no idea.”

Schew was certain his Consulate Heads had no idea either. He immediately scheduled a meeting with them.

“No. We had no idea,” said Fitch, his round face clouding with dark purple.

“Their government certainly has plenty of money,” said Noga, his feelers twitching.

“We’ll look into this,” said Sanoj, waggling two of his legs back and forth. “This could mean sanctions.”

“It’ll take some time. We’ll bring it up at the Unity meeting tomorrow, but Earth’s Government moves at the speed of a slaggaslug. And if they haven’t taken care of this problem already, it means they don’t want to. So they’ll act even more slowly. This is not to be tolerated,” said Fitch. “Thank you for bringing it to our attention. You deserve a promotion and a raise, young Setagean.

Schew went back to his office. He still felt terrible. Was there something he could do today?

After work, he, Mabel and the podlings shopped for food. They finally left the store with eight cartfuls of food. Schew didn’t look at the total, just held his palm out to be scanned.

They spent the next two days cooking all manner of strange and familiar food. Then, they packed all the prepared food up in the van, along with all the gifts, piled themselves in where they could and drove to the homeless shelter. The shelter was packed with people looking for a meal.

It turned out that the shelter couldn’t serve their food. They didn’t have the right kind of permit. And the shelter had had a last minute donation of bright, shiny new gifts. They didn’t want theirs. They wanted Unity credits.

Schew felt so disappointed. But he wasn’t about to let his feelers droop in public. So, he got everyone back in the autovan and had it drive around.

“What are we looking for?” asked Nine.

“Bonfires and ruins,” said Schew.

“Why?” asked Six.

“Because people live there who don’t have money,” he said.

It took an hour of driving before they found a bonfire. Nine people were huddled around it, even though the temperature was warm.

Schew got out and asked, “Do any of you want food or gifts?”

They stared at him.

He wondered if they could hear him. “Do any of you want food or gifts?” he yelled.

“Are you insulting us?” asked a woman.

“No, no insult meant. My family and I have too much food and too many gifts. This is our first Christmas and we just wanted to do things right. We’d like to share them.”

“Well then,” said a man, putting down a baseball bat. “Yes, we’d like to share.”

Schew opened the back end of the van and they removed all the gifts. Then he and Mabel lay all the bowls and plates of various food out in the empty space.

“I forgot plates,” said Mabel, her horrified eyes growing round with orange tinges around the edges.

“I’ve got plates. And forks,” said a man. “I collect ‘em.”

He hobbled over to a brick building which had a decided lean to it. It would probably fall down with the next quake. Another man followed him.

They returned with a box of fancy plates and silverware. And a cloth to dust them all off.

“Real china,” he said proudly. “I’m Max.”

“I’ve never seen such beautiful plates,” said Mabel, running her fingers over one of them.

Schew watched as people dished up their food. Especially popular was the quilsa swon, a dish he and Mabel had as podlings. It was his favorite too.

“I never had food like this,” cackled an old woman named Heather.

“It’s a specialty from our planet,” said Mabel.

They all sat around on boxes, or old chairs, eating and laughing and drinking from a bottle that was being passed around. Schew didn’t know what was in it, but it made rubbing alcohol taste mild.

After eating, Two passed gifts around. She read the name of who it was intended for and closed her eyes, guessing who would like it.

“I’ve been looking for one of these for so long,” said a middle aged man who got the bicycle tire pump. His name was John. “My bike tire’s as flat as a pancake.”

Louis got a tambourine from Four and began to play it. The guitar for Nine went to a June, who actually knew how to play it. Mabel got the scarf that Schew had gotten for her. It matched her feelers. Every single person got several gifts. The humans had each made or gotten gifts for each other and gave theirs away to the podlings and Mabel and Schew. Anybody who didn’t like their gift, traded it to others for something they did want. In the end, everyone seemed happy.

Schew ended up with a little white ball and something called a golf club, to hit the ball with. He decided to take it home and see how many times he could get it into the pool.

After they finished, they burned all the wrapping paper, except for one of the old women, Maris, who really liked hers and wanted to keep it. The fire roared into life.

June played her new guitar and sang, ‘Silent Night.’ All the humans joined in. Schew had never heard anything quite so lovely. Then they sang a song called ‘Jingle Bells’ and taught his family the tune.

Finally, the celebration ended just as the sun was coming up.

One of the humans said, “I got to get to sleep.”

The food was divided up between everyone. Gifts were loaded into the van. Everyone hugged and agreed to do the same thing next year, to meet here even if everyone had a new home. Schew really hoped Earth’s government would do the right thing and take care of their people.

“That was the best Christmas ever,” said one of the older men, Sam.

“That was the best Christmas possible,” said Schew. He realized that all the money spent had been absolutely worth this moment and this feeling of unity.

“Next year will be even better,” said Four.

“Just wait, I’ve got plans,” said Two.

“The things we can do,” said Six.

“It’s the way Christmas should be,” said Nine.

Schew couldn’t think of anything else to add.

He just beamed.

Copyright © 2013 by Linda Jordan

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