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Christmas change

By The Ike Sisters

My dad puts the car in park and turns to me in the back, "Remember what I told you about how your cousins celebrate Christmas differently? I just don't want you to be disappointed when you find out, alright?"

"Yeah," I say, eager to rush out and meet my cousins for the first time. They live way up in the mountains, far away from where we live, so this is my first time seeing them. Boy, am I excited! What are they like? Is their Christmas better than my family's?

"Amelia, just keep all that in mind."

"I will!" I demand. I earn a look from mom, but I don't care. I want to meet my cousins and see all the gifts under the tree!

"Alright, go on. We'll get the suitcases."

"Yes!" I practically jump out of the car and race to the front door, pounding on it with so much energy. It's about time I get out of that car. It was a long trip.

I hear excited voices from inside as someone opens the door.

"You must be Amelia! Come in, dear girl!" I study the guy that must be my uncle and try to smile as I come in, but I admit,

I'm disappointed. There's no Christmas tree. And their house is so small and...ugly.

Three young kids about my age sit on the couch, bright smiles plastered on their faces. I can they be happy with a

Christmas Eve like this?

"Hi," I say.

They all stand and run up to me like a stampede of antelope, "Your Amelia? We thought you'd be older, but you look to be around 10 like us."

I nod and take in the youngest girl, probably 8, "I'm Molly." she says.

I look to the next, "Cassi," she says, "and this is Gabe."

The boy is probably 11. He just nods at me.

"This is so exciting!" Molly says, "A new girl to play with!"

My parents come in, and the house gets noisy. I plug my ears and wait for everyone to calm down.

"Your girl sure has grown since that picture you sent of her. She sure will love the gathering tonight." my uncle says.

"Ah, yes. That's soon, isn't it?"

They go on to talk adult boring stuff, so I turn back to Molly. I almost jump at how close she is. She holds something out in my face, "It's a gift I made for you."

"Oh, well I'd rather go to the toy store. How about it?"

Molly looks down, "There is no toy store. That's why we make gifts."

I grab the box and open it, pulling a rough rope out. I look at Molly in question.

"Wrap it around your waist and let the rest hand behind you. It's called a horse tail!"

I'd rather throw it in the trash, but I'd hurt her feelings. So I put it on anyway, "Thank you?" I try. She smiles as another idea hits her, "We should show you around outside! You'd love the mountain view too!"

I look to my dad, "Sure. Just meet us at the gathering in town when you're done. It's not too far away."

I nod and follow my 3 cousins outside, feeling stupid with the rope wrapped around me. They tell me all about their neighbors and what houses they live in, they show me their small school/church, then they bring me the mountain view they said I'd love. I sigh with boredom as I sit on a rock, watching my cousins laugh with each other. Why are they so happy?

What could they possibly have that my family and I don't have back home?

Ah, forget it. If they have nothing interesting here, then I'll make it interesting!

"Gabe!" I call. He comes quickly, his breath seen because of the cold air, "Life is boring, so, I dare you to balance the edge of that mountainside."

Gabe's mouth falls open, "Are you kidding, I'll fall!"

"No, you won't," I say, "Unless you're just scared?"

"The snow makes it slippery. You wouldn't do it if I asked you to."

I bite my cheek in anger, "I'll do it if you do. Now show me you're brave!"

Gabe looks at the mountain, then shrugs. He marches up to it, getting Cassi and Molly's attention. They curiously watch from afar. With his feet on the edge, he walks it like a tightrope, his arms out like the wings of an airplane. He makes it to the edge and then starts coming back the other way. This is definitely more interesting than their silly little town and poor house!

Molly gasps when Gabe gets unbalanced, but he quickly straightens himself, looking at me like 'haha'. I roll my eyes, but when I look at him again, he's gone, and Molly's and Cassi's screams fill my ears. I shoot up with my cousins and run to the edge, dropping to my knees. Gabe is seen a little way down, holding on to a lower ledge for dear life. He looks up at us with panic, "Help!" His breath comes out short.

Molly and Cassi try using their hands, but they're too short. Not even their legs are long enough when they dangle them down, "Help, Amelia!" Molly cries. I put my leg down there, but still, I'm too short.

"I'm losing my grip!" Gabe shouts. He's gonna die. All because I dared him something stupid. This is all my fault!

My face is slapped, and I look up at Molly from my knees, "Don't just sit there. He's gonna die!" Tears are seen in her eyes.

Think Amelia! What can you do?

My hair is not even an option; there are no sticks or ropes...wait...ropes. I look at my waist...the gift from Molly! I quickly untie the knot with the hope that it's long enough, and throw it down, "Grab it, Gabe!" I watch him struggle to grip it, but eventually, both his hands are on it, and Molly and Cassi help me pull him up. He may be 11 years old, but this boy is heavy.

We get him over the ledge, and we all collapse into the snow. My hands shake as I finally sit up. Molly and Cassi hug their brother with tears, and I helplessly sit here, embarrassed. Molly comes over to me after a while, patting my shoulder,

"Thank you. If it wasn't for that rope, he'd be dead. This is all the Lord's doing. You should thank Him for giving us a way to save his life."