The Christmas Eve Intruder!

The Christmas  Eve Intruder!

What it means is that the sister in college acts all grown-up and is never around when all of us celebrate something at home… she used to be such fun. And the kid sister is ALWAYS around when you don't want her.

So on the midnight of Christmas Eve, I get shaken up by this kid sis, 'Bhaiya, quick! Come down with me…I think Santa's in the house!" Now Christmas Eve is not the right time to educate kid sisters about the truth on Santa, so I try to snuggle deeper into my quilt and say I'm tired. But kid sis's don't give up easily.

Groggily I follow her to the stairs and stop. Earlier, I had not wanted her to see Mama or Papa putting the presents under our tree…but suddenly, I was worried. The noises I could hear were not from the hall. And there were no lights on…Was this an intruder?
Now, we have a Christmas tree because we celebrate every festival on the Indian calendar. Our friends next door are Christians, and since they've always made us a part of their celebrations, we enjoy it a lot. But Mama doesn't exactly place fabulously expensive gifts under the tree like Aunty next door. Diwali is when Mama buys us whatever we want. So I thought, "If there's a thief in the house, let him help himself to whatever is under the tree…he could very well be armed!" But then, you don't know kid sisters. When I warned her about this, she got all the more excited and ran down the steps…in the dark! I had no choice but to follow.

She tipped toed around the hall and the sitting room, but nobody was in sight. There were no presents under the tree either. In a whisper that could have been heard in Chennai, she said, "So Santa hasn't visited us yet."

Then we heard this sound in the kitchen. We both froze. Somebody was there. I wanted to go back upstairs and wake up Papa, but my kid sis thought I was a total ninny. She picked up Mama's lead crystal vase and swept into the kitchen…ready to knock whoever it was on the head. I ran after her.

Inside the kitchen we both stopped. There before us in the light of a tiny candle was our big sister. She had the fridge door open. And on the table was the box full of Christmas cake that Aunty had sent us. Kid sis and I could instantly calculate that a lot had been eaten.

Unable to hold back, kid sis gasped, "But Didi, I thought you were on a diet?"
Well, Didi almost had a heart attack, being surprised like that! And that too with her mouth stuffed with Christmas cake…cake that she'd refused all day when we'd been pigging out! It's not that our Didi even needs to diet. She's got it into her head that for her New Year Party dress to look good on her, she needs to lose a few kilos. Silly Didi.
Being wide awake, we too settled down to eat some cake. And kid sis started off about Didi's dress. However much we tried to convince Didi that she looked nice in it, she'd frown (sadly help herself to one more piece of cake) and grumble, "No, Shweta told me I looked fat."

 That got us MAD. Because if there's anyone who needs to diet, it's Didi's horrid friend Shweta. It made me furious that someone like her had the power to ruin my Didi's Christmas. Didi loved Aunty's cake.

Finally, kid sis ran upstairs and got Didi's famous party dress down. In this bossy manner that only kid sisters have, she ordered Didi to go try it on again. Poor Didi agreed, soulfully shuffling to the bathroom. In minutes she was back, looking gorgeous, but in tears. She wailed, "I look so fat in this….look at my tummy…" Kid sis slapped her own head in disgust and I looked to the heavens for help, because neither of us could see this 'tummy'.

"You've got 2 choices," Kid sis eventually barked. "Bhaiya and I could go and exchange the dress for the next bigger size, which would be sad since it fits you so perfectly…OR, you just don't meet or talk to Shweta till the New Year party…she's the only reason you are on diet."

Didi looked stunned. She stared at us for a moment and then burst out laughing. "Hey, kid sis…you're right! How silly of me…to let one person make me FEEL 'fat'!"
She sat down to enjoy more cake. This time she didn't look guilty about it. "No, I won't exchange that dress AND I won't diet." But turning to me, she asked, "But if Shweta calls, will you tell her I'm not in…I need some time to build up my courage."
Kid sis and I jumped on her. It was the nicest little midnight feast we'd had in a long time.

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