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What Will You Give? by Gerald K Fox


'I want it, MINE. Give it back NOW'. Megan didn't like to share things with her two younger sisters. They were travelling on the coach to meet the man in the big red suit. Rhiannon handed back the woolly hat, she was only having a little look at it, and as usual her bigger sister didn't like to share. She turned away to look out the window, not wanting Megan to see the hurt in her eyes. Outside she could see the blanket of snow covering the ground, it covered the trees, houses, all the cars. When the lights of the passing cars shone on the snow she thought she could see a pair of eyes looking back at her, when she blinked hard she realized that it must have been her own reflection in the window of the coach.


'Mum, Dad are we there yet? How much further? We've been stuck on this coach for ages, I want to see the reindeers, go on the sledge, see the husky dogs and finally meet the fat guy in the red suit. It’s taking ages. I'm hungry, Have we got any food?' Dad searched in his bright blue bag, he took out a bar of chocolate. He decided to break it into five even pieces, so that everyone got a piece but before he could even break the first piece Megan grabbed the chocolate and shouted, ' it's mine I want it', she stuffed it into her mouth. Isabell began to cry and cuddled up to her Mummy,


Rhiannon turned to look out the window and once again she thought she could see a pair of red eyes looking back at her, again she blinked hard the eyes disappeared. She whispered to herself 'it must be my imagination'.


Eventually the coach stopped, the door opened an Elf got on, he was wearing a red and green coat which had yellow stripes, a pair of purple leggings which had orange patches over his knees, and on his head he wore a multicolored hat that had a bell on the end of it. Picking up the micro phone he said 'Merry Christmas everyone. Welcome one and all to the greatest place on earth Lapland.  My name is Atnas. Today you are going to see and do fantastic, fabulous and funny things. We are going to meet reindeers, go on a SL...' 'BOring, boo get off the coach you look silly with that hat on'. Megan was standing up on her seat shouting at the top of her voice. She made Isabell cry, again. Rhiannon turned away completely embarrassed, she looked out the window, as she turned her eyes opened wide with wonderment, this time the red glowing eyes winked at her. 'I knew I saw a pair of eyes I just knew it'.


All the other children, parents and grandparents turned to stare at Megan. They were absolutely disgusted at her outburst. 'What are you all looking at? I'm just fed up. I'm hungry, tired and and.... oohhhh go away and leave me alone all of you'. She turned around to face her family, from the top of her voice shouted. 'ARE WE THERE YET? I've had enough of you lot telling me what to do'. Atnas placed the microphone down, he walked to where she was sitting. 'Now little lady what is going on here? Is the snow not white enough for you? Or maybe it's not cold enough for you? Let me try to remember your name, wait a minute don't tell me I've got it here somewhere'.


He took out a sheet of multicolored paper from under his hat, put his right hand up in the air twirled it around and around then when he pointed at the paper, bright red, yellow and blue sparks came from his finger hit the paper, then the name 'MEGAN' floated in the air above her head. Everyone cheered and clapped. Rhiannon giggled to herself, when she looked at Atnas, he winked just like the red eyes did in the dazzling white snow. 'Megan, yes that's it, now if you would like to come up the front with me, you are going to be my little helper today. This way up you get'. She got up and stomped after him.


'Well I'm here now, what do you want me to do? I can't drive this silly coach can I.' He turned away from her clicked his fingers, pointed to the microphone and it jumped into his hand. 'Sorry about that little interruption, allow me to introduce my assistant, Taa Daaa Megan.' Christmas music played from the ceiling of the coach, Rhiannon looked up to see where the music was but couldn't see any speakers. 'It must be magic'. Turning to look up at Atnas and her sister a pair of eyes peeped out from under his hat. She giggled to herself and felt butterflies in her tummy because she got the feeling that it was going to be a very extra exciting day indeed.


Every one followed Atnas off the coach, he was explaining that before they went into Winter Wonderland they had to pass through the magic gates then they would change into more suitable clothing. 'The north Pole is very very cold at this time of year and as you are not used to Th...' 'OOOhhhh Come on get on with will you we know all this blah blah very cold blahh.' Dad walked over to her bent down, whispered in her ear then walked back to stand beside the others. 'What did you say to her?'


'I told her if she didn't keep quiet then she wouldn't get to see Father Christmas, then she told me of course I'm going to meet him I'm the number one helper.'


When they passed through the magic gates everyone changed into snowsuits then ran off to the magical woods to play in the snow. Mixed with what looked like a rainbow light that arched across the sky the snow looked good enough to eat. Feet crunched, voices got louder, and laughter grew stronger. Suddenly an animal bellowed, everyone stopped as one. Blocking their way was a reindeer. Atnas walked over, whispered something into its ear, he bowed his huge head up and down nearly hitting him with his huge Antlers as he turned away and walked into forest.


Suddenly the ground in front of them disappeared, there didn’t seem to be anywhere to go but then Atnas clicked his fingers and like a run way the path below them lit up with first ruby red lights then bright blue then canary yellow then just to confuse things all the brilliant bright colours got all mixed up, they looked like a multicolored snake. From the forest came little Elves, carrying something that looked like a sack over their shoulder. When they got to the edge they sat on the sacks and went down the hill. Soon everyone started to slide down the hill, going faster and faster till the sack spun round and came to a stop in front of an old house.


Megan was the first one to stand up, ‘what was the point in all of that, just so we could stop in front of an old house. How silly can you be?' Atnas crouched down beside her. 'You are looking with your eyes that is why you cannot see it properly.' Megan puffed out her chest. 'What do you expect me to look with? My feet?' He sat on his hunkers, pointed for her to stand in front of him, she squinted to see what he was looking at. 'No it's a load of rubbish I can't see anything but a broken down house.' He let out a long sigh. ‘If you cannot see it then you are not looking with your heart. It's ok, we will come back shortly, let’s go it's time to visit the work shop, we can have a look at the Elves at work.'


Rhiannon walked closely behind Atnas, as her feet crunched in the snow she saw another pair of red eyes looking at her from the forest. Butterflies returned to her stomach, and a warm smile to her face as she knew that this meant that they were been followed and that Megan’s behavior would be reported to the man in the red suit.  As they approached a huge twinkling light Atnas once again clicked his fingers, suddenly a multicolored door appeared in front of them. 'Go on Megan as you are my helper you can open it first.'


She walked up to the door and pushed it, but nothing happened then she pulled it still nothing happened, this time she tried with all her strength, the door moved slightly. At first she peered round it, then she opened it a little more she shouted 'HELLO', no answer. 'This is a load of rubbish there is nobody here.' Atnas walked up and closed the door. He stood in front of it. He took his magic hat off his head twirled his finger and pointed it at the hat. Sparks flew out of the hat, lightening zig zagged in front of him.


Then the name RHIANNON floated in midair. 'Do we have a Rhiannon here today?' Megan who had her arms folded pointed with her right hand towards her sister. ‘There, she is the one with the silly smile on her face.' Rhiannon’s face was as bright as the morning sun, stepping forward so that she could be seen she felt the butterflies once again return to her stomach. 'I'm Rhiannon, How can I help?'


Atnas moved to one side. ‘It seems that your sister can't open this door to the workshop. The hat has selected your name to help me, so if you don't mind please come forward.' As she moved closer a pair of red eyes appeared in the door and winked are her. She gasped then smiled, nervously placing a hand on the multicoloured panel. Suddenly it flew open, in the middle of the ground there was a large volcano that erupted, out of the top of it came fireworks that lit the dark sky. Pink, blue red, orange then multi-coloured made a mushroom shape, little stars exploded, princesses floated, unicorns galloped and elephants flew.


Atnas turned to Rhiannon and shouted 'what's your favourite colour?' She laughed as she shouted 'RED' the whole sky lit up a beautiful bright red. 'RED AND PINK'. Red on the left pink on the right, like two rockets launched into the air, when they met in the middle they exploded to make tiny pink and red petals float across the night. Atnas clicked his fingers and it stopped as quickly as it began. Then he clapped his hands and a runway of light lit up the way to the work shop. He started to walk towards the work shop, waving for everyone to follow him, as he got closer he raised his hands and the front of the shop lit up like a Christmas tree.


Once they got inside they could see a machine that was giving out lists of names Atnas explained that one list was naughty the other nice. Rhiannon knew who was on which list. Then they saw Elves running over and back checking to make sure that the toys were working.


'Look out, duck.' Just in time everyone ducked as an elf was flying past in an aeroplane, testing it to make sure that its brakes worked while still in the air. A box dropped from the ceiling then some chairs Atnas clapped his hands and steaming hot drinks, plates of biscuits and cakes appeared on the box. Megan was sure that the box was now the size of a large table but this time decided not to moan as she wanted to have a drink and biscuit. When everyone had enough to eat everything disappeared as if it had never been there. Rhiannon smiled and looked up at the hat on Atnass, head, once again the red eyes winked at her, she began to giggle then started laughing very loudly. Megan frowned, 'and what do you find so funny hmmm tell me Rhiannon what’s so funny?' In between gasping for air and tears rolling down her face she tried to explain but couldn't tell her that the red eyes had stuck its tongue out.


They walked to the back of the shop and found themselves facing the forest. Turning to see what was behind them they gasped because the work shop was no longer there. 'This way please follow me.' An elf that was dressed in green trousers and red jacket with a red and green hat was directing people on to a sleigh that was being pulled by six reindeers Rhiannon wasn't sure but she thought that the one at the front was the same one they saw earlier. When everyone was on the sleigh Atnas took the reins and cracked them in the air, this made them move forward at a slow pace. When the sleigh steadied he cracked them again and the reindeers moved faster.


Rhiannon leaned over to Megan’s ear and whispered, 'I know who Atnas is, and I’ve worked it out. No other Elf would have the same powers as him. Think about it, he spoke to the big reindeer in the forest, when he clicks his fingers or claps his hands something magical always happens and he can drive this big sleigh which by the way keeps changing colours and last but not least I keep seeing the magic red eyes. Now if that's not proof for you I don't know what is?' She said the last bit very proudly. 'Are you talking to me, because I've got no idea what you are saying, I've got my headphones in.' Rhiannon turned away not wanting Megan to see the hurt in her eyes again. 'I know I'm right I just know it,' she whispered to herself.


'Wwwhhoooaah there' Atnas pulled on the reigns to make the sleigh stopped. Everyone climbed out and the first thing that they noticed was the footprints in the snow, thinking that someone was here before them. 'As promised we are back at the 'shed' as it was called earlier. Now before we see the man in the big red suit perhaps we could have a practice.' With her arms folded tight Megan walked up to him and with her best sulking face said, 'how is that going to benefit anybody we just seem to be going round and round in circles. When will we get to meet Santa? I have a very long list I want to give him and you’re delaying me.'


He rubbed his chin as he looked deep in thought. 'I've got an idea, why don't you go to the back of the queue and have a long think about what you will give this Christmas?' She unfolded her arms, pointed her finger, 'You said that I was the helper so that means I get to go first.' 'Yes you're right but if you remember you couldn't open the door and Rhiannon could so then she became the helper. I'm sorry but that's the rules.' ‘You never mentioned that?' 'Aaaahhhh, Megan they are always there, like when you cross the road, if you are in class, they are never spoken about, but you know they are always there. Now if you don't mind please go will you go to the back of the queue and think about what you will give this Christmas?' Then he clicked his fingers and an arm chair appeared for him to sit on.


She stomped to the back, folded her arms and put on the best scowl on her face that she could manage. All the children were telling Atnas what they wanted for Christmas some said they wanted to be happy on Christmas morning, some said that they wanted every child in the world to have a present others wanted a surprise on Christmas morning. As Megan was listening, she began to feel guilty about the way she spoke to her parents, the way she treated her younger sisters and the she treated Rhiannon when she tried to tell her something about Atnas, Santa and the reindeer. Moving closer to the front realised that what she had done was very bad. A lump formed in her throat as she felt sadder and sadder, a tear trickled down her face followed by another, and she turned her head away so that no one could see.


When she reached the front of the queue Atnas leaned forward in his armchair. 'Hello Megan welcome back, have you thought about what you are going to give at Christmas time?' She swallowed hard moved closer, whispered I don't want any toys, I just want to give my family a hug and tell them I love them very much.' 'Aaaahhh but Megan my dear you don't have to wait until Christmas morning to do that you can do it now. Go on they are standing over there go and give them a hug.' She walked over to her Mum, Dad, and two younger sisters who were standing waiting for her to join the circle, as she hugged them there was a bright flash of light and a puff of multi-coloured smoke where Atnas was standing, he disappeared but in his place stood Father Christmas.


Rhiannon squealed with delight, 'I knew it was you all along. I told you Megan no other Elf would have that many magical powers'. Megan was very sorry for the way she behaved. Father Christmas stood beside them and said. 'Well done Megan you showed us the true meaning of Christmas. Instead of wanting presents, you give something that is very precious and that is love.' Santa clapped his fingers and the biggest most colourful Christmas tree you could imagine lit up the sky. Under the tree there was a present for everyone, including Megan.


Sometimes we forget the true meaning of Christmas just like Megan did. So this Christmas remember to give your family the greatest present of all. Give them your love by giving them a hug and reminding them that you love them everyday. Merry Christmas to one and all.


Lots of love Atnas.