Part 6

"I'm so pleased to hear that you returned in time for the Winter Solstice, Empath," Smurfette said, "but I'm worried about what happened to Wild."
"This smurf didn't know what happened to him either," Empath said. "He must have been scared off by the presence of the other Smurfs and didn't want to make himself known by the ones who have found this smurf out in the forest."
"But you did smurf him again, didn't you?" Smurfette asked.
"Just one more time before he disappeared, never to be seen again until recently, Smurfette," Empath said.
And as Empath's story continued, Smurfette saw in his mind the day of the Winter Solstice, when he was sleeping in his quarters with some of his fellow Smurfs, when they heard Harmony's horn playing throughout the village, signaling every Smurf to wake up. They all got up and headed for the Solstice tree, where they saw lots of presents lined up under it, and Papa Smurf standing there, looking so cheerful.
"Merry Winter Solstice!" Papa Smurf called out. "Come and smurf your presents!"
"Oh boy, I can't wait to smurf open my presents!" Clumsy said.
"I hate waiting to open my presents," Grouchy said.
"Last one to the tree is a rotten Smurf," Hefty said.
"And may the last one be Hefty," Duncan said.
Papa Smurf laughed as he handed each and every Smurf their present. Empath was surprised to find that he received a pair of gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat for his present.
"You seem disappointed, Empath, as if you were expecting more from this Winter Solstice this year," Tapper said, observing Empath's reactions.
"There just seems to be so much that went on that this smurf missed up until this day, Tapper," Empath said. "But this smurf isn't really concerned about what this smurf has missed out on, but rather..."
"But rather what, laddie?" Duncan asked, sounding curious.
Empath felt as if he was about to mention meeting Wild out in the forest, so he decided to change the person he was talking about. "This smurf was thinking about the Psyches who never even get the chance to celebrate anything this joyous before."
"Given what you have smurfed to me about them, I wouldn't blame you for feeling that way, Empath," Tapper said. "If all they have to smurf forward to is just endless days of schoolsmurf and training, they're going to smurf out to be a bunch of dull joyless people."
"Why should we worry about them at all?" Duncan said. "We've got something they could only wish they had...a reason to feel good about smurfing alive each and every single day."
That got Empath thinking. "Well, given that this is a season of giving, this smurf should create something for a special someone who has been very helpful to this smurf as of late," he said.

A little later on, Empath returned to the forest to the very same spot where he was found by his fellow Smurfs after being cared for by Wild. This time, however, he was carrying a gift box. "Wild? Are you out there? It's Empath!" he called out.
Then Empath saw Wild scurrying down the tree like a squirrel to meet him where he was standing. "Empath! You returned!" he said.
"This smurf did return, because this smurf has created a gift for you as a show of gratitude for what you have done for this smurf," Empath said.
"And the gift is in this box?" Wild asked.
"That is correct," Empath said. "You just have to open it to find out what it is."
Wild carefully unwrapped the ribbon and opened the lid of the box. He was surprised to find out what was in it. "It's a hat, just like mine!" he said, lifting it out of the box.
"That's what it is, Wild," Empath said. "That hat will stay durable through all sorts of weather, and you won't have to worry about fixing it."
Wild then took the makeshift hat off his head and replaced it with the new hat that Empath gave him. "How do I look in it?" Wild asked.
"You look perfect in it, Wild," Empath said. "Anyway, this smurf wanted to know if you will come with this smurf into the village and stay with us for a while."
"I would like to, but I can't," Wild said. "My family is out here in the forest, and I don't think the other Smurfs will be ready to meet me."
"This smurf understands," Empath said. "You have been a very good friend to this smurf, and this smurf will miss your presence greatly."
Wild grabbed Empath in a tearful embrace as if the two of them would never see each other again. Empath reciprocated with an embrace of his own, then the two of them separated and Wild disappeared back into the trees.

"And so the rest of the day of the Winter Solstice was celebrated with this smurf's fellow Smurfs, eating, dancing, and singing carols well into the long night," Empath said as he concluded his story.
"That was a beautiful story, Empath," Smurfette said. "I'm glad you shared it with me, and I get to smurf everything that you and the other Smurfs have experienced."
"It was this smurf's pleasure to share it with you, Smurfette," Empath said. "Of course, it was surprising to find that Wild's speech patterns have degraded over the years since we lost contact with each other, but our friendship still seems to be intact."
"He seems to be smurfing it back up now, Empath," Smurfette said. "But I wonder if I would love him better if he smurfed fluently like all the other Smurfs."
"His unique speech patterns do have a charm to them, Smurfette," Empath said. "It would be such a loss if that meant we would lose the Wild Smurf that we knew in the light of all that he would gain."
"Speaking of Wild Smurf, here he comes with Chitter and a sled," Smurfette said.
The two Smurfs saw Wild and Chitter racing around on a sled that Chitter was driving and Wild was riding, going so fast that they were kicking up a spray of snow that covered over Empath and Smurfette.
"Brrrr, that was very unsmurfy of him and Chitter," Smurfette said, shivering as she and Empath shook the snow off each other after Wild and Chitter had passed by.
"This smurf can guess that Handy isn't the only Smurf who has a snowsmurfer here, Smurfette," Empath said.
"You mean Handy's smurfing around on that thing now?" Smurfette asked.
"That is correct, and this smurf thinks that we should..." Empath then saw that Wild and Chitter were making yet another pass by them. "Hold on!"
As Wild and Chitter passed by them again, spraying up snow, Empath shielded both himself and Smurfette with his telekinetic powers.
Smurfette sighed. "Thanks, Empath. Being sprayed by snow one time by Wild is pretty much enough."
"We can still spend the rest of day together alone in your house, enjoying some smurf nog while sitting next to an open fire," Empath said. "What do you think about that?"
"Well, that smurfs to me like it's every bit worth being smurfed on by snow again," Smurfette said as the two of them looked into each other's eyes.
They leaned into each other to kiss when Wild and Chitter passed by again, spraying up some snow that covered the two of them. They paid no attention to it as the both of them kissed.