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It was the night before Christmas

The Elf sat in the van, wrapping presents briskly. There were many more to go, she had just begun in fact. The radio was playing carols in a low volume. She dared not raise it . It would have woken up the children. She hummed along with the radio. Carols always made her feel warm inside.

The Children had hung up their stockings by the fire place. Put cookies in a plate for reindeers and glass of milk for Santa. The elder one made sure no one lit the fire that day as it would have scorched Santa's red pants as he came down the chimney.
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As soon as the children were done waiting for Santa, and were put in their beds, her job had begun. She rushed through each present, wrapping it with her usual efficiency.

Muttering to herself- hmmmm....the older one had been a good boy I guess...Nice raquet'. She was about to put a bow on the first present, and stopped. Should she ? may be she shouldn't. It might reveal her identity to people. She was an elf, who lived on earth as 'Aunt' to two adorable boys.

No one knew her secret, but during the month of Christmas she had extra chores to perform. Being Santa’s helper demanded high level of commitment and skill. It also took all her time. Baking cookies, nurturing and decorating their live Christmas tree 'Nigel' which lived in the back yard thru the year, and was brought in for the twelve days of Christmas. She had to make sure the decorations were done just right. Last year Nigel had complained about the weight of the ornaments. It had made him shed his needles. He had felt quite bald after New Year. And it had taken him a whole year to grow it all back. It won’t happen this year, she had promised him. This year it would be popcorn strings.

She was still contemplating the bow. A red bow on green package will look marvelous. Very festive. But last year The Little ones had exclaimed - "Hey!! Santa has tied the bows just like Aunty does." Trust them to notice that. The boys were growing up so fast, she thought sadly.
Bows will have to go. She picked up the next present.

This job was just a part time one. Just during her winter vacation. But she enjoyed it hugely. Christmas was more than presents you know. It was about being together as a family, loving and giving, trying to knit a crooked scarf for brother, watching children in the school pageant dressed as shepherds or angels, taking their pictures and later trying to figure out which of these 25 dots on stage were our little ones. It made all that slogging worth it.

She wrapped up last of the presents, tidied up the van. Then tip toeing around in a half lit house put the presents under the tree, filled the stockings with smaller packages and candy, ate the cookies from reindeer's plate, drank from Santa's glass of milk, put the milky glass and plate with cookie crumbs back near the fire place where the children will be checking up next morning.

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The lights on the tree cast a mellow glow in the family room. She inhaled deeply the fresh scent of pine The decorations glistened. The star on the top shone like a promise. The base of the tree was full of gaily wrapped presents, just the way it ought to be. It was going to be yet another great Christmas.

With a heart full of love and a stomach full of cookies she went to bed, grateful to Santa for giving her a chance to be his helper. After all, that’s what being an aunt is all about- isn’t it ?


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