With childish giggles escaping her lips, Brigitte tiptoed down the stairs of her family home. Her tangled hair was beginning to fall out of its ponytail, draping over her shoulders in messy waves. Her wide eyes stared down at the stairs, squinting through the darkness to make sure she didn’t fall over. It was way past midnight and her parents were fast asleep upstairs.
But she just couldn’t wait any longer.
As she reached the bottom of the staircase, Brigitte felt her mouth lift into a wide grin. She turned her head to the right, glancing through the arch into her living room. It was far darker than during the day; the thick curtains had been pulled to prevent the moonlight from streaming into the room, the lights of the Christmas tree had been turned off (even though Brigitte had insisted they had to be left on for Santa Claus, her father had said that Santa could see just using Rudolph’s red nose) and the only light in the room came from the digital clock upon the fireplace.
“Santa!” Brigitte whispered excitedly, her eyes spying bundles of presents beneath the tree. Wrapping paper of all colours met her eyes - blue, pink, purple, silver. Even with the lack of light, they winked back at her reflectively.
Her pastel pyjama pants brushing against the ground, Brigitte shuffled across the carpet and dropped down in front of the tree. A smaller, square present covered in shiny, purple paper immediately caught her eyes. A glittering bow had been wrapped around the box.
As Brigitte lifted it to her head, ready to shake it and attempt to guess what was inside, she heard a voice, “You couldn’t wait a few more hours?”
With wide, guilty eyes, Brigitte glanced over her shoulder to find her father stood in the archway. Despite his small stature, Brigitte still knew not to make him angry. And yet, she sensed no frustration in his eyes.
He chuckled and moved forward, sitting on the carpet beside his daughter. He took the present from her hands, holding it in his lap.
“I want my presents!” Brigitte nodded enthusiastically, pleading with her father silently. Her bright eyes stared longingly at the square-shaped present in her father’s hands. Since she hadn’t had the chance to hear the contents of the box, she hadn’t a clue what was waiting for her beneath the inviting wrapping paper.
“Hmm,” Torbjorn mused, “I suppose you can open one for now. But just this one!”
“Really?!” Brigitte’s eyes lit up brighter than the Christmas tree during the day.
“You have to wait until morning for the rest, though.”
Brigitte nodded, outstretching her hands for the gift. Her father handed it back over tentatively, watching with kind eyes as she examined it for a moment. Brigitte’s small hand tore at the bow, ripping it away from the present. She then attacked the wrapping paper, throwing it over her shoulder as it came away from the box.
Shiny purple fell away to reveal… a cardboard box.
Her brows furrowed, “A box?”
Torbjorn laughed to himself. “Open it, silly!”
Brigitte pouted as she looked back down at the box. Her hands fumbled around for a way into the box, before she finally managed to pull the flaps apart. Waiting for her was bubble wrap, which she enjoyed popping for a few moments before ripping it out of the box.
“Kitty!” She exclaimed, grabbing the porcelain mug from within the box. White porcelain had been decorated with a cute, blushing cat face on one side. The handle had been shaped into a tail and the face side of the mug had ears added to the rim. Brigitte clutched it to her chest, hugging it tightly. “I love it!”
“Shh,” Torbjorn held a finger to his lips, “You mustn’t tell your mother I let you open it early.”
Brigitte mimicked the gesture, holding a small, chubby finger to her face.
“It’ll be our promise.”
She wrapped her pinky finger around her father’s, grinning childishly. Her eyes moved back to the mug, admiring the cute details. She couldn’t wait to drink hot chocolate from it the next morning. And she wouldn’t forget marshmallows!