It was seven o´clock on Christmas Eve and I was reading a book near the warm fire. The flames desperately burnt the wood, making a crackling sound.
I could have sat there for ages and ages watching the snow falling outside, glistening in the moonlight and thinking of what beautiful presents the boxes under the Christmas tree may contain.
The decorations were striking: the Christmas tree with its golden ribbons, the colorful Christmas balls; everything was perfectly still….when all of a sudden I heard a strange noise, as if somebody was unwrapping something. I looked around but I was the only one at home; everybody else had gone out. Perhaps the strange sound came from the outside. I decided not to think about it and I carried on reading my book.
The book was about funny creatures which lived in a magic world made of candy and sugar. The only thing those gingerbread men and lollipop women lived on was children’s laughter, which came from all parts of the world. One day the people of “Sweet Land” noticed that streets and houses made of sugar were slowly starting to dissolve. As days went by the situation got worse…that was the point where I had got to, and although it may seem a sad story the plot said it was going to get better.
As I was about to start a new paragraph I heard that odd sound again, this time though it was louder: I jumped off the armchair and noticed a red box which was moving under the tree. I was petrified. Was there something alive inside?
My tummy made an unpleasant noise.
The box stopped moving for a bit as if it knew I was staring at it and then it began shaking. I was appalled and speechless. I slowly went toward it and finally grabbed it. I examined it very carefully. The shiny red paper with a silver ribbon which wrapped the mysterious box was gorgeous.
– Let me out please!– cried a squeaky voice.
I immediately threw the box in the air and screamed.
– Please don´t be afraid – said the voice again – I just want to get out of here; it´s getting stuffy inside and I´m afraid I might faint –
I pinched myself to see if I was just dreaming but…no, I definitely wasn’t.
–Who are you?!- I asked in a trembling voice
– I’m a gingerbread little boy, please let me out –
– Just don’t jump on me – I begged him
– I promise I won’t, and I’m too small anyway!
I slowly unwrapped the box, lifted a creased layer of paper and found a tiny gingerbread man picking himself up, dusting himself off and then crouching till I could see him perfectly among some inviting milky chocolates.
He was tiny and of a gorgeous nutty brown color and every detail – the red lips, the white buttons, the golden eyes – was accurate.
I was amazed by such a pretty creature!
–You can talk!- I said, gazing ecstatically at him.
– Indeed I can, miss – he answered
– So, I´m not making everything up, am I?
– I believe not, miss.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
– Where on earth do you come from?- I asked him
– I come from Sweet Land.
I felt like fainting.
– There is a big factory in my town which makes toys, chocolates and sweets for Christmas every year. Two days ago I was playing in the factory where my mum works and I fell into this chocolate box and nobody realized I was trapped in it. And what´s worse, I don´t know how to get back home!
The little gingerbread boy started crying and soon his weeping got louder and louder.
– You like making a lot of noise, don´t you? Anyway I´m sure we´ll soon find a solution.
– I want my mummy– he sniffed
– Come on! Don´t be a wimp. I´ve got an idea. You said you come from Sweet Land, don´t you?
–Yes, I do.
I paused. – Let me read the end of the book –
–What? You want to read a book? This is absurd! I´m here panicking and you want to read a book?
he asked in dismay.
I ignored him and sat down. I picked up the book and read the new paragraph “The girl found a red box and inside it there was a tiny gingerbread boy who had accidentally fallen inside it while it was being packed in the factory back in Sweet Land“. I quickly went on “…he wouldn´t go back till he managed to make the little girl laugh” .
I couldn´t read further because the words started fading away one by one until the page was blank.
– So I guess this is what you need to do if you want to go back to mama– I said, resigned.
– This is pathetic– he said as he pulled a face
– It´s not really– I whispered
– Why?- he asked
– I don´t laugh…I just can´t. Well, I haven´t been able to do it since something terrible happened to me – I said as I stared at the colorful lights on the Christmas tree.
– This is sad. What can I do to help you?
– I have no idea
We sat looking at each other for half an hour thinking of what to do.
–What´s the worst thing that has ever happened to you?- said the gingerbread boy after taking a good look at me
–Why are you asking me this?
–Well…you said you don´t laugh anymore…
– I stopped laughing and smiling when my parents didn´t buy me what I wanted last Christmas.
The gingerbread boy started giggling.
– Is it so funny?- I asked in a serious tone.
– I can´t believe you stopped smiling because you didn´t get what you wanted. Do you really think this is what Christmas is all about? Presents?
–Well…yes, I believe so.
–You´re a spoilt little brat!
– I am not!
– Let me explain something to you. Christmas isn´t about presents, striking decorations or beautiful Christmas trees. It´s about something deeper, like a magic spirit which warms up our souls. Christmas is a moment to share with the ones you love, like your family. Last Christmas so many children laughed that it snowed all day! My brothers and I threw snow balls at each other till sunset and then, once we got home, our mum served us hot chocolate, which was delicious! Unfortunately over the years kids have started to get more spoilt and miserable; they have gradually stopped laughing and having fun, so streets and houses in Sweet Land have started to dissolve.
– And I´m one of those spoilt and miserable kids– I admitted
– Oh yes…I´m afraid you are!!! Try telling me about a Christmas you enjoyed the most
– Ehm…one Christmas my mum and I melted marshmallows on the fire and my sister, who was four years old then, ended up making a real mess. It was hilarious though!
I giggled. The gingerbread boy smiled and said :
– This reminds me of when my little brother bit his finger by mistake because he though he was edible
– This is very funny!!! A gingerbread boy eating himself!!!!- I said
We both looked at each other and laughed till we were rolling on the carpet. We then thought of all the funny things that had happened to us.
– This is what children must always do: laugh, smile, have a good time because life is all we have and it is within us to make it special and unique.
– You´re right– I smiled – I´ll go get you a hot chocolate ok? Just wait a minute.
I went to the kitchen but when I went back to the sitting room my gingerbread friend was no longer there… but he had left the book open at the last page:
“I´ve done my job and meeting a lovely girl like you was a pleasure. Just remember Christmas is more than presents; it´s a magic spirit which warms up our souls.
Merry Christmas from Sweet Land…Gingy”