Boxing Day

Oh, okay. One more. It’s a peculiarly positive Christmas this year, so let’s see if I can’t ruin it.

None of the grown-ups seemed to know why it was called Boxing Day, but here was Dani on the day after Christmas at half-past five in the morning. And here, under the tree, was an extra box. It was done up in cream paper with a green ribbon and a small card that simply said “To Dani: for being so nice”.

And Dani had been nice. Dani had been good all year, she was sure of it. She’d kept her room tidy, eaten all her vegetables, and never yelled. Not once. Not even when Old Connie Bryce’s yappy dog made her drop her favourite book in the mud. Or when Old Connie Bryce’s yappy dog picked up that book and shook it in his hateful little teeth until the pages were all torn. She’d gripped that yell in her lips, bent it into a smile, and told Connie Bryce that it was okay. That she wasn’t mad or upset, and that she liked dogs, and that’s just how yappy dogs behaved. Then later that night, Dani stole back across the fence and sliced off his ears with a pizza-cutter. Because that’s how cranky girls behaved when your mean yappy dog rips up their book in the mud.

She’d written out a list and stuck it to the fridge for Santa: one Butterflicious ConformoPet (machine-washable), the latest Angelica Manson mystery, an Autopsy High Real Death Doll (with Real Scream action), and so on, and so on.

But Santa had ignored them all. Well, Mummy and Daddy had ignored them all. All except the ConformoPet. and even then they’d bought the wrong one. Then there were jumpers and socks and other Important Things. And again, Dani hadn’t yelled or sulked or been ungracious. She’d smiled at all the presents and said thank you. She’d even made a big show of wearing that stupid jumper before excusing herself and scaling the laundry cupboard to where mummy kept the medicines.

Mummy and daddy spent all night in bed, sobbing and clutching their tummies and thinking about how naughty they’d been. So this box couldn’t have been from them. And it couldn’t have been from Santa. Could it?

When Dani stroked the ribbon, it was warm and humming, like a sleeping bird, and when she fingered the edges of the lid, her fingertips came away wet.

“To Dani, for being so nice”.

Unable to wait any longer, Dani ripped the ribbon away and prised open the cream paper lid, before the box was ready. It gave a ‘snarf’ of surprise, licking its cream-coloured face with a tinsel tongue. Then, quick as a sugar plum, shot that tinsel tongue around Dani’s neck and dragged her inside.

Ho ho ho.

© 2012 Dave Bloustien

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