“Í kvöld, jólin eru að koma, í kvöld, jólin eru að koma…”
Immi sang and danced around the throne room as he added the finishing touches to the Christmas tree. The other fruits looked on and giggled as they helped decorate the Fruit Basket for Christmas.
“Elskan mín, Christmas isn’t for another week yet!” Eva laughed as she walked up to Immi and held onto his arm, resting her head on his shoulder and looking up at him.
Immi smiled, “Já, já, I’m just so excited!”
Suddenly the pears ran up to the happy couple and started circling around them, leaping in the air and shouting gleefully.
“Can I put the star on the tree?”
“No, I’m putting the star on the tree!”
“Rólegur!” Gedda playfully exclaimed as she skipped over to the Christmas tree.
“But, Mrs Gulrót, I want to put the star on the tree!” Poddi whined.
“No!” Palla pouted, “I want to do it!”
“That’s Miss Gulrót to you,” Gedda chuckled, “But I think there is a way we can solve this.”
“How?” The pears asked, looking at each other in confusion.
“Well,” Gedda explained, “Who put the star on the tree last year?”
Palla and Poddi glanced at each other for a moment before going into one of their little meetings, turning their backs on Gedda and talking amongst themselves. After a minute or so, they turned back to Gedda with smiles on their faces.
“I put the star on the tree last year!” Poddi grinned.
“So then it’s Palla’s turn!” Gedda decided, “It’s only fair.”
“Woohoo!” Palla whooped as she leapt in the air, leaving Poddi sulking.
Palla picked the star up off the floor next to the tree and tried to reach up to the top of the tree, but she was just too small.
“Ugh!” She grunted.
“Allow me to help.” Immi offered.
Immi walked up behind Palla and lifted her up, so she could reach the top of the tree. She gently placed the star on top of the tree and looked at it, admiring her work.
“I always wanted to be taller than a tree!” Palla exclaimed.
Immi laughed as he set her back down onto the floor. Eva looked on, smiling. Immi was becoming a much nicer person, and she really liked this.
Palla skipped over to Poddi, who was still upset.
“Don’t worry Poddi,” she smiled, “You can put the star on the tree next year!”
Poddi’s face immediately lit up, “Really?”
And just like that, Poddi was back to his usual cheerful self. He and Palla ran off into the corner and started to play with the blocks.
Eva turned to Gedda, “They fight over that every single year. How did you resolve it so peacefully?”
“Wait, how were you solving it?” Gedda asked.
“Usually we roll a dice, or flip a coin,” Eva explained, “But they’re never happy with it!”
“Well, I guess I just chose to do things a lot more fairly!” Gedda said.
Mæja ran up behind Gedda and hugged her by the waist.
“I can’t believe it’s your first Christmas in the Fruit Basket!” Mæja exclaimed.
“I’m so excited to spend Christmas with you guys!” Gedda beamed.
Mæja let go of Gedda and they turned to face each other.
“I’m especially excited to spend Christmas with… my girl.” Gedda said, smiling at Mæja who suddenly started to blush.
“Ah, young love,” Eva whispered to Immi.
Their moment was shattered by Rauða shouting loudly.
“Okay, fruits and vegetables!” Rauða proclaimed, “Gather round for the annual Fruit Basket Secret Santa!”
The residents of the basket cheered and gathered round Rauða, who was holding a smaller basket with folded up pieces of paper in it.
“Now, remember, the usual rules apply!” Rauða said, “Don’t reveal your identity until after all the presents have been opened, and all presents must be nice and thoughtful!”
The residents scrambled towards the basket to pick out who they would be buying presents for. Everyone opened up their pieces of paper. Luckily, nobody had to reselect as they had not picked themselves. Each resident made an effort to quickly conceal their piece of paper. Except for Immi.
Immi stared in shock at the small piece of paper in his hands. He was honestly speechless and had no idea what to do. The name was written on his paper, clear as day, not to be mistaken for any other.
Later, Immi was in his room and sat on his bed, wracking his brain for ideas. He could easily have found something for Eva, or Guffi, or Rauða, or even Mæja! But what would Gedda even want? You can’t exactly get someone jafnrétti og bræðralag as a present.
Immi slumped back onto the bed and sighed in frustration.
“I don’t know anything about her!” He grumbled to himself.
Immi sat up, realising he’d have to do some investigative work if he was going to get Gedda a decent present.
“It’s disguise time!” He exclaimed before leaping up off the bed and crossing over to his closet.
He stuck his head in the closet and looked around, rummaging through seemingly identical clothes to try and find something to disguise himself with. But no, there was nothing. Immi didn’t own any disguises.
“Well I can’t spend all day in the closet,” Immi mumbled, walking back over to his bed and slumping back down.
“Haven’t done that since high school.”
The next day, after making sure no one was around to catch him, Immi snuck over to Gedda’s sleeping area and started to look around, hoping to find something that might give him a clue.
Suddenly, he stumbled across a small book, tucked under a green pillow. Gedda’s diary.
“Ó nei, I can’t read that,” Immi whispered to himself, “You can’t just read someone’s diary.”
Immi stood up and started to walk away. But he stopped.
This could be the answer I’m looking for, he thought.
Immi turned around and sneakily made his way back over to Gedda’s sleeping area, and was just about to crouch down and reach for the pillow before he heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Are you looking for something?” Gedda asked.
Immi promptly rushed to his feet and turned to face her, his hands clasped in front of him. Immi smiled awkwardly as Gedda looked at him.
“Já!” He exclaimed, “I was just looking for… my sceptre!”
“Ó!” Gedda replied, “I’ll help you look!”
“Nei nei nei, it’s fine!” Immi blurted, “I just remembered where it is!”
Immi dashed off back to his room, leaving Gedda standing there in bewilderment.
Immi emerged from his room later, no closer to deciding on a present than he was that morning. He was making his way towards the throne room when he heard voices coming from inside it. He stood just outside the door, listening to the conversation in the throne room.
“I think I’ve found the perfect present for Secret Santa!” Eva giggled.
“Really?” Gedda asked, “I won’t ask who it’s for!”
“Yes, it wasn’t hard to think of a present at all!” Eva replied.
“I like that we do a Secret Santa every year,” Mæja said, “That way we don’t have to worry about buying for everyone!”
“Já, it’s great!” Eva smiled, “But I did buy a present for Immi as well, of course!”
“So we know who you didn’t pick, then!” Mæja giggled.
“Immi seems to be so into Christmas, haven’t you noticed?” Gedda pointed out.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Immi muttered to himself before focusing back on the conversation in the throne room.
“Já, well it doesn’t surprise me, considering his upbringing,” Eva replied.
“Yes, Christmas wasn’t always the best time of the year for him,” Eva said.
“Ó, was his family poor?” Mæja inquired.
“Well, no,” Eva explained, “But they weren’t always very nice to him, as you may or may not know. He didn’t really get to feel the sense of togetherness that one normally feels during the holidays.”
“He used to get teased quite a lot, and he didn’t feel included in all the family activities. His uncle Sveinn was especially cruel.”
“Já, it is,” Eva sighed, “He even had to make his own clothes sometimes, because he was the smallest pineapple in the family and it’s hard to find clothes for small adult pineapples.”
Eva smiled as she remembered the time they’d spent Christmas together as teenagers.
“It wasn’t all bad for him, though, as one Christmas we’d invited him over to celebrate,” Eva beamed, “We had so much fun! And from that day on, Immi swore he’d never have a bad Christmas again!”
Immi remembered that Christmas, years ago. He remembered how beautiful Eva had looked, and how much he loved her, and how he wished he’d had just a little more courage that moment they’d shared under the mistletoe.
“Have you found a present for Secret Santa yet, Gedda mín?” Mæja asked.
“Nei,” Gedda replied, “But I know it’ll be something from the heart, because that’s what’s really important!”
“I agree!” Mæja smiled.
Something from the heart.
Suddenly, Immi finally had an idea. If Gedda wanted something from the heart, then that was what she was going to get!
Immi ran back to his bedroom and instantly started working on her present.
She’s going to love this, he thought.
Finally, after days and days of waiting and excitement, Christmas Day was finally here. The residents of the fruit basket gathered in the throne room, sitting in a circle around the pile of Secret Santa presents.
They went around the circle, one by one opening their presents, each expressing their gratitude for what they had been given. At last, it was Gedda’s turn to open her present. Immi was sat next to her, trying desperately to hide his excitement and anxiety.
Gedda held the present in her hands, and inspected the label attached to it.
“To Gedda, a gift from the heart, from your Secret Santa!” Gedda read out.
She carefully opened the festive wrapping paper to reveal her present. It was a lovely handmade orange and green shawl, with leaf patterns. Gedda smiled brightly and immediately wrapped the shawl around her shoulders.
“I love it!” She beamed.
Immi breathed a sigh of relief. Not only did Gedda like the present, she loved it.
“Your turn, Immi!” Guffi said.
“Ó, já!” Immi exclaimed as he looked at the present in his hand.
Immi opened his present, albeit with a little less grace than Gedda, and inspired it. He had been given a big yellow sweater with a silver crown design on the front and a brown and yellow cape attached to the back.
“Wow!” He said joyfully, “This is amazing!”
“It’s handmade!” Gedda giggled.
All the fruits turned to look at Gedda.
“Oh no, I’ve blown my cover!” She gasped.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter,” Rauða smiled, “Everyone has opened their presents anyway, so we might as well reveal who we bought them for!”
“Well,” Gedda beamed, “I’m going to guess that my present is from… Immi!”
Immi gasped, “H-how did you know?”
“You think I didn’t know why you were looking around my sleeping area? Or listening to my conversations?” Gedda laughed.
“Well, when you put it that way, it sounds creepy,” Immi mumbled.
“Thank you, Immi,” Gedda said, placing her hand on his shoulder, “This is truly a gift from the heart.”
Immi smiled, his eyes brimming with tears of happiness. Gedda pulled him into a hug, which the rest of the basket promptly joined in until they were all in one big group hug.
After a minute or so, Guffi broke out of the hug and stood up, clearing his throat. The others turned to look at him.
“In the spirit of Christmas, I have written a poem!” He declared, “It is a classic spin on the well-known classic, The Night Before Christmas!”
Guffi stood proud and tall as he recited his poem,
Twas the night before Christmas, and joy filled the air,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a pear.
Baskets decorated with love and with care,
In hopes that SantaTomato soon would be there.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard a great sound,
‘Twas Rudolf the Fruit Fly buzzing around,
Santamato did laugh, so merry and bright,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
After reading his poem, Guffi bowed as the residents of the Fruit Basket applauded wildly.
Gedda leapt up, causing the group hug to disband.
“GLEÐILEG JÓL!” She loudly proclaimed.
“Gleðileg jól!” The others repeated.
They spent the rest of the day partying and celebrating Christmas together. They danced, sang, told jokes, and had a great time!
In a quiet moment, Eva caught Immi sitting alone on a block and watching the others.
“What’s wrong, elskan mín?” Eva asked.
“Nothing,” Immi laughed, “I’m just appreciating everything I have.”
Eva sat on a block next to Immi. He looked at her and smiled.
“I have a lot to be grateful for,” he said.
“Gedda seems to really like the present you got for her,” Eva pointed out.
They looked over at Gedda and Mæja, who were holding hands and dancing. Gedda was still wearing her shawl.
“Good, because I worked hard on it!” Immi replied.
Eva giggled, “You should make me one sometime.”
They looked into each other’s eyes for a few moments before Eva suddenly remembered something.
“Ó, I had been meaning to give you this!” Eva exclaimed as she handed Immi a small wrapped box, “Merry Christmas, Immi my love.”
Immi opened the box and looked inside. There was a gold ring with little pineapples engraved on it.
“It’s beautiful.” Immi cooed.
“It’s a promise ring,” Eva explained as Immi slipped the ring onto his finger.
“It’s kind of funny though,” Immi chuckled.
“Because,” Immi explained, revealing another small box which he handed to Eva, “I got you the same thing.”
Eva opened the box to reveal a white gold ring with silver, purple, and orange gems. She became flustered and started fanning herself with her hand.
“Oh Immi!” She exclaimed breathlessly, “It’s wonderful!”
Eva was able to collect herself eventually, and smiled at Immi once again.
“You know,” she pointed out, “We’re sat under the mistletoe.”
Luckily Immi had a lot more courage now than he’d had all those years ago. He kissed her gently and sweetly, and they touched their foreheads together.
Soon, they rejoined the others in the Christmas celebration. They danced and sang well into the night, and celebrated not only Christmas but their found family.
It was the best Christmas ever.