“More tinsel!” Waverlee shrieked, tossing the glittering strings of gold and red over the deep green branches of the Christmas tree. Fergus barreled past her, a box of ornaments tied to his back and a sloppy grin wide on his face. As Crystal struggled to catch the slippery seal, Brynn groaned and shook her head. “More lights and ornaments and less tinsel, lass! You’ll have the entire tree lookin like a disco ball by the time you’re finished with it,” she grumbled good-naturedly at the giggling Pacific princess.
Serena chimed in. “Oh lay off her, there’s nothing wrong with a little sparkle.” Then as she passed by Brynn she muttered out of the corner of her mouth, “At least I got to the pink before she did. Red is much more bearable,” she winked at the other girl and they shared a smile.
“Destiny, pick up the music a little wouldja?” Zoey asked as she directed Cooper in his decorating. “I’m in the mood for some dancing!”
I bobbed my head as I started into “Jingle Bell Rock”, Pepper and Bubbles’ harmony joining in. “If only there was snow,” Scarlet sighed as she held an ornament still for Serena to paint a perfect snowflake on. Nodding, Brynn continued to search the tree for the perfect branches for her tiny orbs of light to perch on.
I watched curiously as Crystal smiled a little to herself looking a little mischievous. Backing away from the warm scene, she squeezed her eyes shut tight and suddenly the water before her began to freeze. The small ice sphere grew larger and larger until finally she peeked, seeminly satisfied. A playful grin on her face, Crystal vaulted her gigantic snowball above us and just as Zoey’s surprised yell sounded, it burst into a flurry of beautiful white crystals.
Shrieks of surprise and enchantment met Crystal’s gift. I paused my singing to allow my lips to stretch into a wide smile and then quickly started in on “White Christmas”, the excitement in my eyes dancing just as fervently as the snowflakes that fluttered down into my hair. Brynn, Scarlet, and Zoey didn’t hesitate to scoop up handfuls of snow and pack them tightly into snowballs for an epic battle. Serena took cover behind the tree while Waverlee stood in the middle of the warzone, a tantalizing target. Every snowball that came her way was mysteriously repelled by a curious wave and thrown back at its maker. Frank clung to Waverlee’s hair for dear life, refusing to touch the falling crystals after one landed on his head and gave him a brain freeze.
Just then, Jia appeared wearing a red velvet hat lined with white fur. She carried a large sack bulging with its mysterious contents. Akiko alongside her, she paused and smiled in wonder at the strange sight.
Waverlee’s eyes grew wide when she spotted Jia. “Oh are those the presents?” she squealed in delight as she rushed toward the newcomers. Eyebrows drawn in, she poked and prodded the sack. Jia laughed and shooed her away. “Yes, but you know the rules. No presents until Christmas day. And absolutely no peeking!” she added as she slapped Zoey’s hand away from the drawstrings of her bag.
“Aw come on ya Grinch!” Zoey complained, disgruntled. “They’re wrapped up tight, let us get a look at the packages.”
Jia crossed to the tree and, surrounded by the rest of the girls, opened her pack. Gasps and grins met the first gift to be drawn out, wrapped in a beautiful gold cloth and secured with long strings of dyed seaweed. “Tell us who’s it for?” Brynn asked eagerly.
“This one is for Serena from Scarlet,” Jia announced while she placed it under the tree carefully. Serena’s cheeks glowed a soft pink while her smile grew to a beam and she hugged Scarlet. “I wonder what it is,” she murmured as she settled down to stare at her present, fantasizing about the next morning when she would carefully unwrap the beautiful covering.
“Here’s Destiny’s,” Jia held up the next package, small but beautifully adorned with blue shimmering shells and purple sparkling gems. “From Crystal.” I hugged Crystal tight and then stared at my gift with wide mesmerized eyes as Jia set it down with care.
One after another, presents were removed from Jia’s sack until the large brown bag lay discarded and forgotten, empty of its treasures. Each mermaiden hovered near the tree, scrutinizing her gift hopefully and venturing quiet guesses as to what they were.
“I’m hoping for a new canvas,” Serena told me hopefully.
“Maybe a music box from the surface!” Waverlee whispered in rapture.
“A rare plant that I can add to my garden,” Jia ventured, voice laced with cautious excitement.
“Aw come on, lasses. All this hopin and wishin won’t get you any closer to opening your gifts tonight,” Brynn chuckled. “Let’s head to sleep and the morning will come sooner than you’d think.”
With nods, yawns, and sleepy smiles, we all slowly rose to leave, most of our animal friends already asleep in our arms. The lights Brynn had left behind stayed lit and they danced a little to give each of our retreating shadows a tiny quiver of anticipation. The excitement was palpable even as Frank and I slipped into my warm bed and burrowed deep within the furs and cushions.
“Hurry Christmas,” the whisper seemed to echo throughout the room, a longing and eager plea that resonated through every girl’s mind. “Hurry!”