Evergreen gifts

Just when Ricky thought that he had no Christmas presents for his neighbours, Rina had an idea…

Christmas was Ricky’s favourite time of the year. Grandpa would put on Christmas carols and Grandma would tap her feet to the beat as she mixed batter, pounded dough, and fried, baked and moulded to produce treats for the family and all the neighbours.

Right from the beginning of December, the aromas and the sounds of Christmas usually made Ricky rush home from school. Dad and Mom would decorate the house in the evenings, after work. But this year was different. Grandma was sick; so weak that she couldn’t even drink a cup of tea on her own. Then, Mom lost her job. Dad worked from home for several months and then went back to the office. But his glum face each evening told them that things were not going well. “Everything is going wrong for us,” Ricky whispered to Grandpa.

A hard time

“Everything has gone wrong for almost everyone with COVID-19. Let’s just be grateful that all of us are still here together,” said Grandpa. Ricky looked at his little sister, Rina, and made a face. “It’s hard to be grateful for her!” he muttered. Grandpa frowned. “Where’s your Christmas spirit?”

Ricky shrugged and hurried to his corner of the veranda where he had placed a dozen or more cups and mugs that had broken over the months. In each, he had planted a stalk of the jade plant; all were flourishing. “I think I need some new ‘pots’ for my plants,” he said aloud.

“Break a few more cups, glasses and mugs,” Rina piped up from behind him.

“Don’t follow me around!” he snapped.

“Why not? This is my veranda too!”

Suddenly, they heard a shuffle and a sigh and turned to see Grandma looking at them sadly because they were quarrelling. “We won’t fight at Christmas time. I promise, Grandma,” murmured Ricky.

Soon, Christmas was upon them. Mum had made a small cake and they were all thrilled. “You’ve decorated it beautifully,” said Grandma.

“With some practice, you can take orders and sell cakes,” said Grandpa.

Just then, there was a knock and Rina ran to answer the door. She returned with the Christmas goodies given by Mrs. Paul, next door.

Grandma sighed. “We have nothing to give anyone this year.”

“We do,” cried Rina and whispered in Ricky’s ear. The children ran out onto the veranda. Mrs. Paul was just leaving. “We have something for you!’ said Ricky picking up a jade plant.

“I can enjoy this throughout the year,” exclaimed Mrs. Paul.

She did and so did all the other neighbours to whom Ricky and Rina presented jade plants.

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