Christmas Troubles: Chapter 1

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There he is! Liefheid, the old snowy-bearded wizard everyone loves. His slender figure stands outside my house in his green suit, and on his head, he wears the iconic red Christmas hat he received from his brother, Santa Claus. With his left hand, he waves a black wand and slips himself in the gap between the floor and the foot of the door. He looks around making sure everyone's sound asleep and quietly places a pile of Christmas presents under the Christmas tree we've set up in the living room. Before long, he disappears in a cloud of gold dust and my eyes blink open. The thick mist shrouding our town has cleared up a bit, and I can see the moon shining down like a spotlight. The dark denim sky implies that it's almost dawn, that the sun's standing behind the dark curtain, waiting for his cue to rise in a couple of short hours. It was only a dream.

Through the wall, I hear thumps and giggles from the toddlers next door. They must be looking for their gifts. I glance at the painting of Liefheid on my wall. Here in Kaki Hantu, it is traditionally believed that Liefheid delivers the Christmas presents on Santa's behalf, that whenever he couldn't find a Christmas tree, he would place the Christmas presents under the beds, in the closets, under the tables, and in every empty cabinet he could find. So all the little children in town goes for a little hunt around their homes, searching for their Christmas presents. Fortunately, he sometimes leaves a faint trail of gold dust, providing a hint to where he placed the presents. This tradition is what makes this place stand out during Christmas.

I lie in bed reminiscing the Christmases I had before. I remember running downstairs on Christmas mornings, hoping to catch a glimpse of Liefheid. That childhood dream never came true, but I do find presents under the tree sprinkled with a generous amount of gold dust. That is Liefheid's signature - a sure sign that he's been here. The gifts were always artfully wrapped in sparkly gift-wrapping papers, and our names were usually tagged in beautiful cursive handwriting.

I'm just not rushing downstairs right now because I forgot to send my letter to the North Pole earlier this year. Santa has no idea what I want. I think I ought not to expect anything much. Well, if Liefheid does leave something, I'm in no hurry to find it. Whatever it is, it'll probably be downstairs. I remember setting up the Christmas tree with Dad yesterday afternoon. Then a thought intrudes my mind. What if he doesn't leave me anything? Does it mean I've been naughty? The thought makes me cringe. If there's anything worse than uncertainty, it's ending up on Santa's Naughty list. Unfortunately, I have to deal with at least one of them today.

The uncertainty that is high school.

The door opens a little and Mum's face peeks out from behind the door. She looks happy - It's a good sign. "Merry Christmas, sweetheart!" she greets me softly, her messy dark hair held up by a large hair claw. She probably just got up. She looks at me with her half-awake eyes.

"Merry Christmas, mum." I smile at her.

"Come on down. Breakfast is ready downstairs," she says.

"Okay mum," I say.

I get out of bed and hop into the bathroom. While brushing my teeth, I hear a few heavy thumps outside my room. Jack, I think, rolling my eyes at the thought, my mind picturing his eight-year-old self running around the house like a monkey. "Iiiiitt's CHRISTMAS!" His voice echoes in the hallway followed by more irritating thumps. Sometimes, I wish I was an only child. I pop into the shower and turn the knob a few times. At once, cool water rains down on me from above, banishing the lethargy from my body.

Once I'm out, I wipe myself dry. I walk out of the bathroom wearing a towel and my eyes fly open - "AAAAAHHHHH!!!!" I scream.

"- AAAAAAHHHH!!!!" he screams back. That little munchkin's jumping on my bed!

"What are you doing on my bed?! Get out!!" I yell at him, one hand clutching my towel and my other hand pointing at the door.

He continues laughing and jumping on my bed. "You left the door open," he replies with a smug grin, still jumping up and down. "Wheeee!"

"GET OUT NOW!" I yell furiously at him. He jumps on the bed harder than before, wearing the expression of sheer joy on his face which irritates me all the more. "MUM!!!!!" I call out at the top of my voice. Jack instantly gets down from my bed and transforms into a boy who appears to be flattening out my covers. Works all the time. My lips press together into a smile now that I've gotten him to behave.

As if by magic, my mother appears at my door wearing her floppy pajamas. "Okay now, Jack," she says to him in a firm tone, putting her arm around his shoulder. "What are you're doing in your sister's room?"

"Making Claire's bed? Heh...Heh...," he answers, smiling awkwardly. On his face is his typical façade of innocence that does nothing to change Mom's mind. He's guilty and everyone knows it. He can't fool Mom!

I purse my mouth in a self-satisfied smirk. "Young man, you're coming with me," she says. Right on cue. He folds his arms and stomps his feet in disappointment. I wrinkle my nose and stick my tongue out at him.

"Now Claire," she turns to me and my face instantly lights up with innocence. "Get dressed. Your breakfast is getting cold."

They both head downstairs. "Why does she get to have the fun bed?" he sighs, leaning his head against his mother's side.

I close the door and turn around. Thank you, mum, I think to myself. I let out a sigh of relief. Before long, I'm dressed in a flowy baby blue top and a pair of white shorts. Pleased with how I look, I make my way downstairs.

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Have you or your siblings behaved like Jack? :)


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