A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4
At midnight last night, I was fast asleep in bed, with Alphonse curled at my side. We had gone to Christmas Eve dinner at my parents but we went home earlier than the rest of my siblings to keep Alphonse’s bedtime rituals and schedule. And so, when the clock struck twelve, Alphonse and I were already somewhere in dreamland.
A light tap on the shoulder woke me up. I heard a small whisper in my ear. “Merry Christmas, honey. Wake up.” As my eyes tried to adjust to the darkened room, A♥’s smiling face came to view. Then he handed me a box wrapped in- what else?- newspaper and a small gift card.
I figured you might want company by the Riverside. Merry Christmas!
I love you always,
“Riverside? Company? What was he talking about?” I thought to myself.
I was carefully removing layers of tape and paper when it dawned on me that…hmmm… I did own a new house called Riverside Lodge. Did he mean to give me a new neighboring house? Was that what he meant by “company?” It could be, my mind reasoned out. The box was big, after all, almost as big as, if not bigger than, Willow Hall’s box. As my mind tried to unravel the mystery before me, the careful unwrapping gave way to an orgy of flying paper and tape. I beamed him a smile as I beheld Larchwood Lodge, coming all the way from BeHappy Malaysia. (Thank you, Popo and Kiki!)
I thanked A♥ profusely, hugging my box and kissing it with joy. Alphonse started fidgeting in his sleep so I had to reduce my giggling and gurgling noises. I stared at it for a loooong time, turned it every which way, and then, feeling the onset of yawns, set it down reluctantly. I thanked A♥ again and prepared to get back to bed when A♥ pulled a bigger box from somewhere in the darknesss. “Where did that come from?” I mouthed the words silently. He just smiled even more.
When he handed me another card, the one that said
Dreams do come true. I should know, because I have you. Merry Christmas!
I love you forever,
I thought I knew. My heart was heaving inside my chest, thumping like I was running a marathon. Oh, you should have seen me dancing crazily, hopping and shaking with glee. It had to be. It could only be that.
The Sylvanian Families John Lewis Department Store. Oh. My.
Even as I fervently hoped that the gift was, indeed, my number one wish list item, a question nagged me: how could A♥ get it when John Lewis does not ship internationally? Maybe I was wrong, after all.
I grabbed a pair of shears to diminish the sound of paper violently ripping. Alphonse was fidgeting a lot more and I was afraid he would wake up any moment. But halfway through unwrapping the box, as the giant letters spelling JOHN LEWIS were revealed printed on the side of the shipper’s box, a small address sticker caught my eye. I knew right away whose that was, having received packages sent from that address before.
Panda! I gasped.
“You’re not playing nice,” I said to A♥. “You’ve been keeping secrets from me,” I said coyly, pretending to be hurt. When he launched into the full story of how he wrote Panda to ask for her help, I had to launch myself into his arms. A gift from my two bestest friends in the world- what could be cooler and nicer and more generous than that?
So thank you, my bestest, farthest away friend, Panda, for making this Christmas wonderfully memorable. Your willingness to help a friend from across the oceans is truly a gift! And thank you to my bestest, nearest, most faithful friend of 28 years, my A♥, for making all my dreams come true. I will always deeply, madly, truly love you.