The Christmas Of Elves

Chapter One

Something was missing. Klara Pegus couldn’t figure out what it was. The plastic Christmas tree had been propped up in the corner of the room and decorated with the traditional two ornaments. The radio was blasting holiday songs. The Elf on the Shelf sat on the mantel. There was even a plate of still-warm sugar cookies on the counter, just waiting to be iced.

This was the last Christmas before Klara was a grown up. Next year, she would be practically be a grandma – a whole ten years old. She wanted this holiday to be special. Like it had been, when she was young. Dad used to spend the whole week before Christmas decorating. Their house was by far the most decked out in the whole world. Mom would make so many cookies that it was all they ate for months afterward. Aria would dance and shout Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs.

There was a crashing sound as one of the ornaments slipped to the floor and smashed into a thousand pieces.

“Mom!” Aria, who sat on the living room couch with a computer in her lap, shouted. She pulled one of her ear buds out. “The ornament fell again.”

Klara added, “It broke this time.”

Mom rushed into the room and threw her hands into the air. Her hair was disheveled, her eyes had dark circles under them and she had coffee stains on her pajamas. She groaned as she swept up the tiny shards and then dumped them into a brown paper bag.

Christmas spirit. That’s what was missing. Their house hadn’t had the Christmas spirit for four long years. Aria, who used to be bouncing off the tables on Christmas Eve, was scowling at her computer screen. That computer had replaced Klara. As soon as Aria got it in her grown up hands, her little sister had been forgotten. Just a piece of broccoli on a plate filled with chocolate chip eggnog pancakes.

He’s making a list//He’s checking it twice//He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice//Santa Claus is coming to town

Klara’s eyes widened as the familiar song came on. That was it! The reason Aria had been so miserable and grumpy for so long was because she was on Santa’s naughty list! That would make anyone sad. The past few years, Aria had gotten small coal-shaped gifts. She always threw them away without even opening them. She probably didn’t want to get all of that coal dust over her fancy nails.

A wide smile spread over Klara’s face. She ran towards her bedroom with determined steps and a head held high. She was going to fix Christmas. She would get Aria off of the naughty list, Aria would get amazing presents and then she would be happy again. No one could be sad if they were on Santa’s nice list.

“I’m going to catch Santa.” Klara said, with a glance to Cookies, the family dog. “And I’ll convince him to give Aria the bestest present ever!”

Chapter Two
Kidnapping Santa

Everyone was asleep. Everyone but Klara (and Cookies, who was lazily stretched across the living room rug daydreaming of large birds).

Klara had dressed herself in black. She clutched a flashlight in one hand. She was a professional sneaky spy. With small steps, she tiptoed downstairs. Each wooden step creaked and groaned under her weight.

She whispered frantically, “Shh. You’ll give me away.”

At last, she stood in the living room. Everything was perfect. The fireplace was waiting that wonderful man’s arrival. The plate of cookies and the glass of chocolate milk were centered on the coffee table.

Klara glanced at the tree. The one remaining ornament glinted in the light from the neighbor’s blinking lawn. Everything else was dark. She gulped. She would do this. She had to do this.

She slid under the couch and tried to ignore the spider webs that wrapped themselves around her toes. She shivered.

“Please hurry up, Santa.”

Everyone knows that Santa comes at the stroke of midnight. Klara glanced at her pink watch and sighed. It was 12:01. Where was he?

A truck rumbled down her street. It sounded strangely like a bear. Or a dragon. She squeezed her eyes shut. Images of hairy giants, slimy snakes and stuffed animals with missing limbs filled her mind. She wished her dad was there to wrap his arms around her and to tell her stories of brave knights and beautiful princesses like he had when she was scared. The world was a terrifying, unsafe place. She’d learned that far too young. It was full of monsters and she longed for someone to protect her from them.

Klara’s thoughts were interrupted by a series of tiny grunts – like a baby pig – and then the front door handle was jiggling up and down. Terror filled her. She hugged her flashlight to her chest and whimpered. She considered making a dash for her room, but quickly abandoned that idea. She’d have to run past the door.

Klara bit her lip as the grunting and tugging went on for what felt like years. (Even though it was only a couple minutes at most.) Then, to her complete horror, their door – which had been locked! –  opened a crack. She braced herself for a giant to come thundering in. But a second later, the door closed again. Was the thing gone?

She crawled out from under the couch and saw two tiny feet with curled up boot tips standing in front of the door. Klara was short for her age. She understood the meaning of small. But the mysterious feet were itty bitty. They could have belonged to one of her dolls.

Curiosity overcame fear and Klara crawled towards the door. Unfortunately for him, the intruder darted towards the living room at the wrong moment. He saw a little girl, with huge blue eyes, staring at him in shock.

Chapter Three
T.E’s Answers

For one second, Klara was too shocked to move. Santa wasn’t standing in her house, like she had hoped. No, it was a strange, tiny boy who looked a lot like her Elf on the Shelf, except that he was dressed in dirty brown and he wasn’t smiling. And he had a giant box (bigger than himself) balanced on his back.

Klara screamed. It couldn’t be – was this….What was one of Santa’s elves doing in her house? The little elf shrieked and the box tumbled to the floor with a dull thud. It is a wonder that Mom or Aria didn’t wake up.

The elf, his face mirroring Klara’s, ran towards the door. Klara hurried after him and caught him by one of his pointy ears. He cried out in pain.

 “Let me go, kid!” Elf writhed in her grasp.

Klara grinned. He really was the size of one of her dolls. Careful not to damage him, she wrapped him in her arms and flipped on a lamp. Then she sat down on the couch and turned him around so that she could see his face.

“Who are you? Where’s Santa? How did you get into my house?”

“I won’t tell you anything.” The elf squeaked. Klara guessed that he was trying to look defiant, but it came across as pitiful. “You’ll have to kill me before I’ll tell you the truth.”

“I just want to know your name.”

“That’s classified information.”

“Come on, tiny elf. I’m not going to hurt you.”

The elf’s eyes grew huge and his mouth dropped open. “H-how did you know my name?”


“You said my name. How did you know it was Tiny Elf?”

Klara giggled. “Your name is Tiny Elf? Really?”

“What other secrets do you know?” Tiny Elf glared. “Where did you get your information?”

“Nowhere. I don’t know anything. Is Santa coming?”

Tiny Elf groaned. It was obvious to him that this girl was smart – too smart. She had known his unguessable elf name. She must know everything else. He fingered a tiny bottle at his side. He had to get out of here – fast. Maybe Santa wouldn’t think it was his fault. After all, this was his first mission! No elf was perfect, right?

“Mr. Elf? Mr. Tiny? Hello?” Klara tapped the little man on his head. He was staring off into the distance, like people did in movies when they were having a tough internal conflict. He blinked twice and then resumed his angry glare.

“Call me T.E.” He squirmed. “Now let me go. I have to get back to Santa.”

“Alright, T.E. I’ll let you go…after you answer my questions.”

T.E. moaned. There was no escape. This girl had hands as strong as the candy cane chains that they used in the elf prisons. There was only one way out of this. He just hoped that Santa would forgive him.

“What do you want to know?”

Klara grinned. “Where is Santa? I need to talk to him.”

“Sorry, kid. Santa isn’t coming this year. Hasn’t for the past ten.”

“What? Why not?”

“Ha! The big guy is getting, uh, a little too big to fit down the chimneys. Ever since he had his nervous breakdown over the lack of Christmas cheer in the world, he’s spent most of his time eating. Mrs. Claus is trying to get him to go to see the therapy elf, but he says that he tried it once and the only advice he got was to stop eating cookies. Which he couldn’t do.” T.E.’s hand shot up to his mouth. “Uh…don’t tell anyone. I wasn’t even supposed to know any of that.”

“If Santa doesn’t deliver the presents, who does?”

“Me. And about a hundred-thousand other elves.”

“Why did you come through my door instead of the chimney? Like Santa does – or used to, I guess.”

“Do you have any idea how sooty chimneys are? Besides, too many elves have been burnt from falling into fireplaces that still had fire.” He crossed his arms. “What’s with all the questions?”

Klara shrugged. “I’ve never talked to an elf before. I was just curious.”

“As you humans say, ‘curiously killed the mouse.’ Or something like that.”

“How many more presents do you have to deliver?”

“Your house is the last one. And man, am I glad. My back’s never been so sore.”

Klara glanced over at the package that the elf had dropped on the carpet and a pang of sadness shot through her. There was only one gift. She could see the giant words Klara Pegus on the outside. There was none for her sister. Aria had been so naughty that she didn’t even get coal!

T.E. took advantage of Klara’s distraction and squirmed out of her grasp. He ran towards the door as fast as his little elf feet could carry him.

“Merry Christmas, kid.” Then he mumbled to himself, “Santa’s going to send me to the coal cellar for failing my first Christmas Delivery Mission.”

Klara couldn’t let the elf get away. Santa wasn’t coming, so he was her only hope. She jumped after him, but he was already outside. She flung the door open. Cold, snowy air hit her in the face. She looked around frantically. Where had he gone? Did he disappear? How did he even come?

Then she saw the little doll sized figure standing in the snow. And he was clutching a small bottle in trembling hands.

Chapter Four
Magic Eggnog

“T.E.” Klara shouted. She dropped to her knees beside him. He jumped and nearly dropped his bottle. He stuffed it back into his pocket.

“Go inside, kid. Your mom won’t be happy if you’re sick on Christmas.”

“I won’t go. Not until you help me.”

“What now?” T.E’s voice was desperate. “I answered your questions.”

“I want you to help me get my sister off of Santa’s naughty list. Can you take me back with you so that I can talk to Santa in person? It’s really important.”

T.E. laughed dryly. “Sorry, kid. No way. I’m not getting banished so that you can talk to Santa. No human has set foot in the North Pole and you’re not going to be the first.”

Klara’s shoulders slumped. Defeat filled her little heart. This Christmas would be ruined because of her failure. Because she couldn’t convince Tiny Elf to take her to Santa. Because Santa had eaten too many cookies and stopped coming to bring joy to the world.

T.E. pulled the bottle from his pocket again. Klara caught a glimpse of the words scrawled on the side. Magic Eggnog. He raised it to his lips.

“No!” Klara screamed. “Take me with you!”

T.E., who was already jumpy, dropped his bottle. It landed upright in the snow. In a flash, Klara had it in her hand. She held it up with a toothy smile.

“Magic Eggnog, eh?”

T.E. jumped up and down, trying to reach the bottle that was just out an inch too high. “Give it back. You don’t know the power that has. It’s mine.”

Klara raised it to her lips. “Maybe I’ll just try some and see what happens.”

“No!” T.E. shrieked. “Don’t. I’ll take you to the North Pole. You can talk to Santa. Just don’t drink that.”

“You promise?”

“Yes, yes, I promise. Now give it to me.”

Klara handed it to the elf. He hugged it to his chest and let out a loud sigh of relief. Then he took Klara’s hand, closed his eyes, and took a tiny sip of the eggnog.

There was a flash of light, a flurry of snow and the overwhelmingly delicious smell of Christmas cookies. When it cleared and Klara ran a hand over her face, she found herself in a world of miniature.

Chapter Five

Almost everything was tiny. The tables, the chairs, the scissors, tape, ribbons and bows were all mini. The top of Klara’s head brushed against the ceiling. The only things that were normal sized were the rolls of wrapping paper and giant boxes that were flattened against the walls. It was empty now, but Klara could imagine it bustling with hundreds of little elves, wrapping gifts and getting ready for the big day.

“You’re in the North Pole.” T.E. whispered, glancing around with a furrowed brow. “What do you want?”

“I already told you. I want to see Santa. Where is he? I don’t think he’d fit in here.”

T.E. grabbed a handful of his smooth hair in his fists and gave it a tug.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all.” T.E. hissed. “I’m only bringing a human into the elf world, which is strictly forbidden. Then I’m just going to waltz into Santa’s room with you following. He’ll be thrilled for sure.”

“I hope so.”

T.E. sniffed. “I’m so banished. No more elf dances. No more hot coco fights. No more late night trips to tease the reindeer.” He pounded his forehead with his little fist. “You didn’t hear that.”

“Let me guess, elves aren’t supposed to be near the reindeer.”

“You really have been spying on us! How? How! I demand to know your sources. Is it a rouge elf?”

Klara giggled. T.E. found nothing funny about the situation.

“So where’s Santa?”

T.E. pointed across the room to an inflatable Santa that stood under a sign. The sign said, “Keep working. I’m watching.”

“There he is.”

Klara crossed her arms. She was getting tired of T.E’s hesitation. The night was racing by and she had to talk to Santa before Aria woke up.

“Take me to the real Santa, T.E.”

T.E. hurried through a doorway (one that Klara barely fit through) and into a large hallway that stretched far into the distance. On either side were doors with nameplates. Klara assumed that was where the other elves lived or worked or did their elf stuff. As they walked, the halls got taller and wider. Soon the ceiling was high above Klara’s head.

“Are we almost there?”

T.E. snapped, “Quiet, kid.” He mumbled to himself, “I’m just glad that the other elves are still out on gift duty.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, there was a pop and a sparkle and then a little elf (dressed in green) appeared in front of them. T.E. waved and Klara smiled. The green elf’s mouth was open, but a scream didn’t come out. He stood completely frozen with terror. A human girl in the elf world!

“Come on.” T.E. hissed between clenched teeth. “Quick, before more get back.”

As if in answer to his words, three more elves appeared in the hallway ahead of them. One fainted. One looked horrified before darting into one of the doors and disappearing. The last, who was dressed in red, ran away with his arms flailing in the air. T.E. grabbed Klara’s hand and raced down the hall.

T.E. was too busy wondering what banishment would be like and if he would be able to take all of his stuff, that he didn’t notice the sinister smile on the face of the Red Elf. Red grabbed the tiny phone (which looked a lot like a chocolate bar) and quickly dialed a number.

“Santa? Yes. I’m reporting that Tiny Elf has broken the number one elf code. Yes sir. That’s right. He’s brought a human girl to the North Pole.”

Red enjoyed the sound of horror in Santa’s voice. He put the phone down and smoothed his vest. Tiny Elf – that annoying newby who couldn’t keep secrets (and who accidently got Red in trouble for teasing the reindeer) – he was going down.

Red threw back his head and let lose his maniacal laugh. If a human happened to walk by at that moment, she would have thought that Red’s deep, horrible giggle sounded a lot like a rat squeaking with great magnificence.

Chapter Six
Christmas Central

“We’re almost there.” Tiny Elf said, between heavy breathes. “Just a little –”

His words were cut short by the loud thud of heavy footsteps. They were coming towards the terrified elf and the awed human girl. All other elves that happened to be in the hall, scampered away like mice when a cat approaches. T.E. gulped as he trembled in his little bell-adorned boots.

Klara held her breath. Santa – or maybe a bear or something equally large and heavy – was coming towards them. She felt strangely afraid and safe all in the same moment. Within seconds, a giant figure, taller than any Klara had ever seen, came running down the hall.

Klara grinned despite herself. The giant wore a big, floppy red-and-white hat. His coat and pants matched. His beard was longer than Klara was tall. Yes, it was Santa. He was real. So much realer than those fake young guys who dressed up and sat in Walmart so that little kids could have a picture with ‘Santa’. She stared at him as he came closer, his boots thundering on the smooth floor. This man was filled with an old, old magic. It was something no amount of fake beards or red outfits could create.

T.E. shrieked when he saw the giant cup of eggnog that Santa held under his arm. It sloshed back and forth as he ran, and Klara hoped that it wouldn’t accidently land on her before she could talk to him.

Santa, seeming to not see the girl, grabbed T.E. by the collar with his free hand and held him up face-to-face. T.E. whimpered.

“You violated our number one rule, Tiny Elf.” Santa boomed. His eyebrows were scrunched down and his face was red. “You have betrayed the North Pole.”

“Yes, but –”

Santa sighed and raised the eggnog, “You know the rules. I hereby banish you  to– ”

“Wait!” Klara’s voice echoed through the empty halls. “It’s my fault.”

Santa blinked, turned around and noticed Klara for the first time. His eyes grew wide. No human had been seen in the North Pole for as long as he could remember. It was a necessary protection. But the pleading eyes of the little girl reminded him of his own daughter, Little Santanya, when she was young.

“I’m sorry, Santa.” Klara whispered. “I wanted to talk to you and I made T.E. take me. Please don’t banish him. It wasn’t his fault.”

T.E. nodded eagerly. “Listen to her. She’s telling the truth.”

Santa glared at the elf. “Quite.” Then he turned to Klara and took one of her hands in his big, hairy one. “Come with me.”

Santa led Klara to the end of the hallway where a beautifully carved door (with pictures of Christmas and winter scenes) stood. He opened it and motioned for her to step inside. She gasped.

She was standing in the hugest, most gigantic room that she had ever seen. It was all decked out with Christmas decorations – garlands, ornaments, trees. The very air felt festive and joyous. Piles of cookies, feet high, were scattered around the floor. A giant vat of milk was warming over the fireplace. At the back of the room there was a desk that stood far over Klara’s head. On it was a big book.

“Welcome to Christmas Central.” Santa smiled.

Chapter Seven
Christmas Cheer

Klara couldn’t believe that she was standing in Santa’s office. It was bigger than she ever imagined. He was bigger than she thought. She wondered how the giant of a man had ever fit through chimneys – even in his younger days.

“Isn’t this great, T.E.” She whispered to the little elf, who was still shaking. Santa had set him down and he had darted behind Klara.

Santa settled into the big chair behind his desk. He put his hands behind his head and smiled at Klara. “You came all of this way to talk to me. What’s so important?”

“It’s about my sister, Aria. All I want is for you to take her off of your naughty list.”

“I’m sorry, child. It’s too late. The presents have already been delivered.”

Santa’s words were like a punch in the stomach. Suddenly Klara felt very tired. Tears filled her eyes. She thought about Aria’s frowning face – the face that she always wore on Christmas. She remembered her sister’s hurtful words as she had been brushed aside time and time again. All Aria loved now was her computer and the social life that she’d built for herself online from fake photos with plastic smiles. Klara had had a chance to change all of that. But it was too late. She’d failed.

The tears rushed down her cheeks in a torrent. She tried to stop them. She didn’t want to cry in front of Santa and T.E., but they continued to come.

“What’s wrong?” Santa asked, his voice kind and his eyes filled with concern.

Klara slid to the floor and hid her face in her hands. Between sobs, she said, “I just want my sister to love me again. She’s been miserable ever since my daddy died from cancer. She used to love Christmas and she would get so excited. But now she doesn’t. She’s never happy, because she’d on the naughty list. I just wanted to get her off so that she would smile again…so that she would love me.”

Klara hung her head. She missed her dad. She longed to feel his arms around her shoulders, and his gentle whispers telling her that she was loved, safe and found. She wanted Christmas to be special this year. But it was too late.

“Here, child.”

Klara looked up and saw, through her blurry eyes, that Santa had knelt to her level and was holding out something small and round. It was wrapped in red-and-green paper and tied with a burgundy bow. She wiped her nose on her sleeve and took the package gently.

“This package is filled with Christmas Cheer. It’ll make your sister happy for the whole day.”

“Really?” Klara jumped to her feet and threw her arms around Santa’s neck. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She twirled around the room and then said, “Can you eggnog me back home, Santa?”

“Of course.”

“Bye, T.E.” Klara waved at the elf. “I’ll see you next year!”

Santa poured a drop of eggnog onto her head and she vanished in a flurry of sparkles. Then Santa turned to T.E., who had retreated to the corner of the room and was furiously biting his nails. The big man gave a belly laugh that lasted thirty-seconds too long. T.E. knew that no good could come from that. Powerful people laughing was never a good sign. He steeled himself for banishment. He wondered what other elves he would find there. All criminals most likely. Since he wasn’t a criminal, he’d probably be hunted by them for sport.

“I’m not going to banish you, T.E.”

T.E.’s head darted up. He blurted, “What?”

“You made a very great mistake. If it happens again, you will most certainly be banished. But you are young and this was your first mishap.”

T.E. hoped that Santa wouldn’t find out about the cookies that he had stolen or the presents that he had accidentally destroyed in a failed attempt to make Christmas fireworks, or-

“As a punishment, you will spend Christmas in the coal cellar. When you get out, I will place you in training under my best elf, Red. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Santa.” T.E. hurried towards the door, wanting to get out before the big guy changed his mind. “Thank you, Santa.”

Santa opened the door and T.E. ran towards the elf police, who would carry out Santa’s sentence. Spending Christmas in the cellar seemed like paradise in comparison to banishment. He may have been the only elf to sit on a pile of dirty coal, on Christmas Day, with a smile on his face.

Chapter Eight

Even though Klara stood in the cold snow, she was warm inside. Santa had saved her Christmas. Aria would be happy again! She had done what everyone said was impossible, and she had brought back a gift from Santa himself. She did a little twirl before quietly opening the door to her house and tiptoeing inside.

She carefully set the little gift on top of the huge box that T.E. had brought. Cookies, happy to see his owner, whined and tugged at her sleeve. She turned to pet the dog, but tripped on a corner of the rug (which T.E. had pushed up in his mad dash to escape).

Klara fell and slammed into the big box. To her horror, Aria’s gift teetered and then crashed to the floor. The carpet cushioned it and it didn’t break. Klara was breathing a sigh of relief when Cookies, thinking that it was a ball, pounced on it and tore it open with his teeth.


But it was too late. Sparkles shot out and spun in the air for a moment before settling on Cookies head. The dog blinked three times and then wagged his tail wildly, ran around the room and began dancing with joy.

Klara stared at Cookies in shock. Aria’s gift…all that was left of it was shards of wrapping paper. The Christmas Cheer was completely gone. No more elves would come until next year. She had no magic eggnog. There was no way to get back to Santa.

In a few hours, when Aria woke, there would be no Christmas.

Once again, Klara had failed. She ran to her room and sobbed until she had no tears left. Then she fell into an exhausted sleep. She dreamed of wild dogs, screaming elves and a purple Santa who yelled at her for ruining World Peace and Happiness.

Christmas Morning

Paige Pegus absent-mindedly flipped the heart-shaped pancake. Christmas was hard. She had tried her best to keep her spirits up for Klara’s sake. Her daughter deserved to have a happy Christmas. She glanced towards the living room where Aria sat, texting. Paige’s forehead wrinkled. Klara wasn’t up yet. Normally on Christmas she was awake at five, begging to open gifts. The house was strangely quiet.

“Hey, Aria, is Klara awake?”

Aria shrugged. She didn’t take her eyes off of her screen.

“Go get her. Breakfast will be ready soon and I don’t want the pancakes to get cold.”

With a groan, Aria stood and walked upstairs.

Klara rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Christmas Day! She could already smell Mom’s M&M pancakes. Then she remembered the events of the previous night. T.E., the magic eggnog, the Christmas Cheer and how Cookies had eaten it. She curled up in bed again, tears making their way out of the corners of her eyes.


Aria’s voice filled the air. Klara rolled over. Her sister looked just as miserable as she normally did on the holidays.

“Are you crying? What’s wrong?”

More tears. Klara wailed, “I stayed up last night so that I could talk to Santa, but I kidnapped an elf instead because Santa ate too many cookies and couldn’t fit down chimneys anymore. Then T.E. poured his magic eggnog on us and we went to the North Pole. We met Santa and he gave me Christmas Cheer for you so that you would be happy, but Cookies ate it and now Christmas is ruined.”

Aria looked at Klara like she was insane. Maybe she was.

“You saw Santa?” Aria’s voice was mocking.

“What’s taking you so long? Pancakes are getting cold.” Mom walked into the room and stopped when she saw Klara’s tearstained face.

Klara repeated her story, this time with more detail. Mom and Aria exchange confused glances. Why didn’t adults ever believe kids? She had seen Santa. They could tell her she was dreaming all they wanted, but she knew the truth.

“Honey, I don’t understand.” Mom said. She brushed a strand of hair from Klara’s cheek.

Klara looked at her sister with downcast eyes. “I – I just wanted you to love me again.”

Aria’s face registered surprise.

“We used to play together all of the time. Do you remember how you’d be queen and I’d be your puppy? We’d run around outside for hours.”

Aria lowered her head and picked at the hem of her shirt. “Yeah.”

“I miss you. Ever since Daddy died, I’ve missed you. I wanted to make this Christmas special. But I’ve just messed everything up again.”

At the mention of their dad, Aria broke down. Mom wiped her eyes. Klara cried. No one was supposed to be sobbing on Christmas. They should be laughing or having a snowball fight. This was all her fault.

Then she felt warm arms around her shoulders. She looked up and her eyes met Aria’s. Klara leaned into her sister. Aria hadn’t hugged her for years. Mom wrapped her arms around the two of them. In quiet, hoarse voices, the little family shared their favorite Christmas memories – times when Dad had been with them.

Between sniffles and running mascara, Klara realized that Christmas doesn’t always have to be filled with laughter and bouncy happiness. Sometimes true Christmas spirit was shown in this – the tears, the memories, the heartbreak….and being together in the midst of it.

With Mom’s delicate hands rubbing her head and Aria smiling softly down at her, Klara felt safe. And loved.

“This is the best Christmas we’ve had in years.” She whispered, and wiped her cheek with the back of her hand.

Just then, Cookies darted into the room. His tail was wagging so fast, it’s a miracle that it didn’t fall off. He looked the picture of festivity.

“Whoa, what happened to Cookies?” Aria asked.

“I already told you!” Klara said. “He drank Santa’s Christmas Cheer spell!”

Mom and Aria burst into laughter.

“No, I’m serious!”

Cookies jumped onto her bed and licked her face. He smelled just like Santa’s office.