“I’m going to get more stocking stuffers than you,” boasted seven year old Daphne to her friend, as they played in the backyard.
They had just finished making a snowman and were surveying their handiwork. The snowman’s eyes were two crusty old chestnuts left behind by a squirrel. Thin twigs had been added to create eyebrows. An icicle served as the nose and the mouth was simply an upward arch made by Daphne’s index finger.
“How do you know? Santa has to give everyone the same.” Shanna frowned as she lay down to make a snow angel.
“Na, uh. I know how to get more stuff because I’ve got a plan.” Daphne lay down beside her and began to wave her arms.
The two little girls laughed when their mittened hands touched. The sky above them was a crisp blue and they had to squint against the brightness of the sun.
“I still don’t believe you,” said Shanna, getting up and banging her snow crusted mittens together.
“I’ll tell you my secret.” Daphne’s eyes danced. “But you have to promise not to tell anyone else.”
Shanna was immediately interested and bobbed her head up and down as they headed towards Daphne’s house for some hot chocolate and biscuits.
“Tonight, after mom and dad go to bed, I’m taking my stocking down and hanging up my tights because they can hold much more stuff. They’re stretchy and long.”
Shanna looked impressed. “Wow, that’s a great idea.”
“But you can’t steal my idea.” Daphne was serious. “And you can’t tell anyone either.”
“My tights have a hole in them,” stated Shanna, quite matter-of-factly. “And I’m your bestest friend so I won’t tell a soul.” For emphasis, she placed a finger over her mouth.
“Good plan, eh?” Daphne felt excited. She was going to get more stuff than her brother and sister and all of her friends because she’d come up with a great plan.
“If I get a new pair of tights next year, can I do it too?” asked Shanna, suddenly wishing she’d had such a great idea first.
“Of course! Santa will be used to it by then.” The two girls took off their coats and boots, letting their damp mittens dangle on the strings wound through each of their parkas, and hurried to the kitchen where a treat awaited them.
Daphne heard her parents go into their bedroom and quickly tiptoed out into the hallway. It was dark but there was a full moon shining through the landing window so she had some light as she carefully made her way down the carpeted stairs to the living room.
She knew Santa never came before midnight and since she could tell the time, she knew her plan was going to work. The houses outside were still lit up and the colourful lights could be seen blinking through the sheer curtains.
Daphne’s stocking was the one next to her mother’s. Her father’s was first and after hers came the last two stockings; one for her brother, Toby and the other for her sister, Dixie. Quietly, she removed her red felt stocking from its peg and replaced it with her pair of white tights. She stood back and smiled. Already she could imagine the wonderful amount of surprises she would get from Santa.
With the red Christmas stocking tucked in one hand, she hurried back to her bedroom hoping morning would come soon.
“What’s this?” Tristan had just turned on the living room lights and spotted the pair of tights.
His wife, Delia, chuckled. “What on earth is Daphne thinking?” She picked up the tights and shook her head.
The husband and wife were about to play Santa and arrange the Christmas gifts under the tree as well as fill up the stockings.
“She’s being greedy.” A sly smile appeared on his face. He took the tights, stretched them out and laughed. “You know she’s expecting these to be filled up.”
They looked at each other and both stifled a bout of laughter for fear of waking their children.
“I have an idea.” Tristan winked at Delia and, as they began to set up the gifts, he whispered his idea to her.
When Daphne opened her eyes Christmas morning, she gleefully bounded out of bed.
“Merry Christmas!” she sang out as she rushed into Toby’s room first and then into Dixie’s. Toby was already awake and sitting up in bed. Dixie was still curled up under her blanket.
“Merry Christmas!” shouted Toby and he and Daphne shook Dixie’s bed. Startled the little girl raised her head and gaped at them through sleep hazed eyes.
“Get up! It’s Christmas!” Toby was hopping from one foot to another. “I’m going to get Mom and Dad.”
Daphne threw back Dixie’s covers and took the 3 year old by the hand.
“Let’s go see what Santa brought.”
“Santa, Santa, Santa,” repeated Dixie, eyes widening in anticipation.
Toby was singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ at the top of his lungs and she could hear her parents groaning. Dad moaned that it was only the crack of dawn and Mom was begging for ten more minutes of sleep.
But, Toby was relentless, and finally the family was gathered together in the living room.
While Tristan plugged in the lights for the tree, Delia prepared coffee in the kitchen. She knew the kids were too excited to eat but she and her husband needed the coffee.
Once they had their mugs in hand, they sat down to watch their children who were all lined up on their knees in front of the twinkling tree.
“Stockings first,” announced Delia, sharing a secretive look with Tristan. “Daphne, you hand out the stockings please.”
Daphne’s eyes were huge when she spotted her bulging tights. There was even a big red bow on one foot! After giving each their stocking, she sat down on the floor, eager to open hers.
“Hey, there’s nothing in mine.” Toby turned his stocking upside down. “It’s empty.”
“Me too,” added Dixie, shaking hers several times.
Daphne watched as her parents opened their stockings and also found nothing. Suddenly she didn’t feel so good.
“What’s in your stocking?” asked her father.
A lump prevented her from speaking so silently she opened the top of the tights.
“Wow, look at all the stuff Santa got her!” The corners of Toby’s mouth dipped down and for an instant, she thought her 5 year old brother was going to cry. Tears already glistened in Dixie’s eyes as she grappled to get into her mother’s lap.
“Show us, Daphne,” urged Tristan, gathering his son into his arms.
Face flaming, she reached in and first pulled out five gingerbread men. They were followed by five oranges, five candy canes, five small bags of gumdrops, five identical knit hats and five balls. That was a lot of stuff.
Ashamed, she looked up at her family and then back down at the array of treasures. Suddenly she brightened.
“There’s one for each of us!” She cried out in delight and began to hand one of everything to each member of the family.
“That’s right.” Tristan’s eyes met Delia’s.
“I guess Santa was in a hurry and stuffed them all into yours,” explained Toby thoughtfully, before biting the head off his gingerbread man.
Daphne could only nod. She was feeling very humble and very embarrassed. How could she have been so greedy? Her plan hadn’t been a good one.
Sensing her unease, Delia slipped onto the floor and pulled her into a hug. “Merry Christmas, Sweetie Pie!”
“Ho, ho, ho!” chortled Dixie. Toby and Tristan joined in as the family opened the remaining gifts together.