The Christmas surprise

The Christmas surprise

Two siblings bring home the festive spirit beating all odds. A short story by Rachna Chhabria

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo

“One more month until Christmas,” twelve-year-old Siddharth Simon and his twin sister Shaina Simon said at the dining table. Their parents nodded absentmindedly, their grandmother didn’t reply.

Hurriedly finishing their dinner, the kids rushed to their room.

“Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, they are showing no interest in any celebrations,” Shaina said. 

“The pandemic has been harsh on our family, mom lost her job, dad had a 35% salary cut, this postponed grandmother’s knee replacement surgery,” Siddharth replied. 

“They are constantly anxious and stressed out,” Shaina said.

“This year too we will have a quiet Christmas,” Siddharth sighed. 

“We better not put up our stockings or expect any presents,” Shaina made a sad face.

“I have an idea,” Siddharth said. “Mrs Suri has put up a notice near the lift asking for helpers, as this year her chocolate orders have risen tenfold. She will pay. We can help her.”

“Brilliant idea,” Shaina smiled. 

The next morning the twins living on ground floor, climbed to the second floor and rang Mrs Suri’s doorbell. After they explained the reason for their presence, a delighted Mrs Suri invited them inside, showing them how to wrap the chocolates. Quick learners, the twins wrapped hundreds of chocolates in a few hours.

“Here is the money for today’s work,” Mrs Suri handed each, a two-hundred rupee note.

“Our chocolate wrapping money,” the twins announced on entering the house. They dropped the notes into the empty jar kept over the refrigerator, in the kitchen.

“This is your money, we can’t touch it,” grandmother shook her head.

“It’s family money, it will go into the family jar,” Siddharth said firmly. “We all will have a grand Christmas lunch with it.”

“I have an idea,” their mother smiled. “I’ll take catering orders and whatever money I make will go into the jar.”

“And I’ll make cakes to sell,” their grandmother said.

It was as though the twins had infused energy and enthusiasm into the elders, who now displayed a previous unseen excitement.

The Simon household now rang with happy laughter and carefree voices. Yummy smells wafted out of the house all day long. People constantly rang their doorbells to collect their food orders. 

 Day by day, the tall jar was getting filled with notes of all denominations.

On Christmas eve, muffled sounds disturbed the twins’ sleep. Rubbing their eyes, they stared at each other from across the room. Each had their bed in one corner of the room. 

“What is the noise?” Siddharth asked.

“I hope robbers haven’t entered our house,” Shaina groaned. “Grandmother always forgets to close the kitchen window.”

“Our jar!,” the twins dashed out of their room. 

They switched on the kitchen light. The jar was empty.

“Our money is gone,” Shaina groaned.

“All our hard work went down the drain,” Siddharth moaned.

“No family lunch and gifts this time too,” the twins’ eyes shone with tears.

A noise from the living room distracted them. Approaching the living room, they rubbed their eyes in disbelief. Fairy lights and streamers were strung up everywhere. A medium-sized Christmas tree stood in the corner, small stars were strung all over it. Gifts were stacked beneath the Christmas tree.

“Ho, Ho,” said a man dressed as Santa Claus. “Why are you out of the bed so late at night?”

Recognising their father, the twins hugged him. 

Their mother and grandmother emerged from the kitchen, carrying trays filled with sticky toffee pudding and ice cream. Everyone enjoyed the midnight binge.

“Someone stole all our money,” the twins groaned.

“We deposited the money you two got for wrapping chocolates, in the bank for your education,” grandmother said. 

“Are we hosting the family lunch tomorrow?” the twins pointed to the pile of gifts.

“Yes,” their grandmother smiled. “All because you two showed us the way, that a lot can be achieved through determination and group effort.”

(Rachna is a children’s author and columnist.)

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