Part 8

Back inside the house, Miranda helped Elise return to bed while Willem dealt with the confessing thief. "Do you wish to press charges against him?" the sheriff asked.
"No, I don't think so," Willem said. "After all, I've gotten my gold back and it's Christmas eve.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you," the thief said, sounding very excited about his freedom. "I swear that you will not regret it, kind sir."
"All right, release him," the sheriff said. The guards allowed the thief to leave and watched him dance off into the night, sounding ecstatic.
"Either that man is crazy or he's got the Christmas spirit in him," one of the guards said, watching the thief depart.
"Only time will tell what will become of him," the sheriff said.
"Oh, your house looks beautiful," Miranda said as she saw Elise resting. "How did you manage to do that?"
"It's all the help of those wonderful little Christmas elves who paid us a visit," Elise said.
"Christmas elves?" Miranda asked.
"Why, they're hiding right under my bed," Elise said as he looked under it, but then noticed something. "They're gone."
Miranda laughed. "Oh, well, whoever did this, I would only hope they would decorate my house the same way."
Gustav handed Hans one of his puppets. "I would like for you to have him as your very own...provided, of course, that your father will allow it."
"Father, may I have this toy?" Hans asked, sounding eager.
Willem sighed. "I suppose this once, I could allow you." He then turned to Gustav. "My apologies for having taken the toy you have given my boy earlier and destroyed it. I should have realized to not be so hasty in judging you. In fact, I would like to make sure you are well supplied in the craft of making toys."
"Oh, sir, I couldn't accept your offer," Gustav said. "All that I'm good at is making puppets now."
"Gustav, you are so modest," Elise said. "This man is the best toymaker that I have ever had the pleasure to live with. I could tell you stories of the kind of toys he has made over the years."
"Really?" Willem said, his interest peaked. "Please, you must tell me."

As the Smurfs rode back to the Smurf Village on the sled pulled by Puppy, Hefty and Brainy explained about the thief they were tracking down.
"Well, it's just surprising that I didn't smurf along with you, Hefty," Duncan said. "That laddie wouldn't even know what smurfed him if it was the two of us smurfing him."
"Ah, he wasn't worth fighting, Gutsy," Hefty said. "He was too afraid of his own shadow to even bother smurfing my knuckles dirty on him."
"What say we smurf a visit to the Slime Bar when we smurf back home and give some undeserving Wartmongers our version of the 'Christmas spirit'?" Duncan asked.
"As long as you're smurfing the drinks, Gutsy," Hefty said, pounding his fist with Duncan's.
"Well, Elise certainly sounds like she's feeling better, Empath," Smurfette said.
"They had a life together that makes this smurf wonder what it would be like for us in our later years, Smurfette," Empath said. "If helping them enjoy one more Christmas together is what will make them happy, then this smurf would look forward to what our future would have in store for us."
"But what if I decide to marry Wild instead of you, Empath?" Smurfette asked. "What would you do then?"
"Then this smurf would never stop loving you regardless," Empath said. "This smurf can only hope at that point that you and Wild will grow gracefully old together and that your love for each other will always be strong."
"Right now Wild seems to be interested in Sassette's new toy," Smurfette said, pointing at Wild watching as Sassette made the puppet dance by pulling its strings, seeming very excited.
Papa Smurf took a look at Wild having fun with Sassette's toy. "It smurfs like Wild will never forget his first Christmas with us."
"Smurfatootie, it makes me wish that I was his age again, Papa," Grandpa Smurf said.
"Well, since we'll be exchanging our gifts soon, I want to start it off by smurfing each one of you copes of my latest book, the Yuletide edition of Quotations Of Brainy Smurf," Brainy said as he pulled out gift-wrapped copies.
Most of the Smurfs groaned and pelted Brainy with snowballs.
"Okay, okay...maybe next year," Brainy sighed.

Upon the Smurfs' return to the village, every Smurf sat at the dinner table to enjoy the meal that was kept warm by Culinary for the Smurfs that went together on the charity mission. Tapper and Polaris listened to everything that Empath had to say about what went on that night.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, I'm glad to hear that things smurfed out very well for the elderly couple," Tapper said, smiling. "I only wish that I was there with you to help out in any way possible."
"This smurf knows that you would be, Tapper, but then this smurf had sensed that we were all there in spirit anyway," Empath said. "There was just something about that night that felt very communal."
"You speak as if the whole village was part of a mindlink, which this one sensed was not activated at any time when you and the other Smurfs were in that human village, Empath," Polaris said.
"This goes beyond being in a mindlink, Polaris," Empath said. "This smurf could sense it in the spirits of my fellow Smurfs, that this is what they wanted to do all along, even though it took a bit of prompting from Papa Smurf to make them consider undertaking the mission."
"Doing good is not always the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do and the smurfy thing to do," Tapper said. "It took a great deal of sacrifice on our part, but knowing that the spirits of others have been lifted on such a time as this makes me feel that the sacrifice is worth the trouble."
During the middle of the feast, they heard the sound of jingle bells and a distinct "ho, ho, ho" that came from the sky.
"Great Smurfness, that sounds just like Nicholas the toymaker," one of the Smurfs cried out.
Every Smurf got up from their seat to race outside and take a look. While they didn't see any sign of Nicholas, there was one thing in the village that they did see: a giant Christmas tree with all its decorations and lots of presents under it, plus the entire village decorated for the season.
"By the Ancestors," Polaris said, sounding somewhat amazed.
"How could this be, that for our entire Christmas to be smurfed up for someone else, that we should be smurfed one in return?" another Smurf asked.
"Who really knows?" a third Smurf said.
"This is simply amazing," Papa Smurf said.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" a fourth Smurf said, sounding very excited.
Empath, Smurfette, and Tapper watched as every Smurf gathered around the Christmas tree to get their presents. Most of them were very surprised and even pleased to see what they have received this year.
"This looks like the hand of the Almighty at work, Tapper," Empath said.
"The Almighty smurfs in mysterious ways, Empath," Tapper said. "I don't try to question what He chooses to bless us with, as long as I know that it smurfs from Him."
"This is truly the best holiday season I've ever had," Smurfette said. "And just to make sure you don't go smurf without your present for the year...." She reached over and gave Empath a long kiss.
"Oh, so that's why you're now wearing the mistletoe on your hat, Smurfette," Empath said.
"Me? Wearing mistletoe?" Smurfette asked, feeling around her hat until she found a sprig of mistletoe hanging from it. "Oh, well, what do you know? I didn't even know it was there."
"Mmm-hmmm, and this smurf was wondering why you went to your house shortly after you returned," Empath said, looking at her suspiciously.
"Oh, Empath, why do you always have to assume that I'm smurfing something up my sleeve?" Smurfette said, sounding a little displeased.
Just then, Wild appeared. "Merry Christmas, Wild," Smurfette said, handing him a gift box. "This present's for you, made specifically from me."
Wild opened it and saw what was inside. "Oh, it's a furry ribbon," he said as he took it out of the box.
"It's called a scarf, Wild," Smurfette explained. "It's something that you smurf around your neck to keep it warm during winter."
"Can you smurf me how to wear it?" Wild asked.
"Why, certainly," Smurfette said, taking the scarf from Wild's hand and wrapping it around his neck. "There...now you look truly smurfy in it."
Wild hopped around, seemingly very excited for the gift. Then he grabbed Smurfette and kissed her in front of Empath.
"Oh, why, thank you, Wild...though you probably shouldn't have smurfed that in front of Empath," Smurfette said.
"Oh...well, sorry, Empath, I, uh...didn't...mean to...," Wild said.
"This smurf understands and accepts the apology, Wild," Empath said. "After all, this is your first Christmas with us. This smurf hopes you have enjoyed it."
"Aye, Empath, I think that he has," Tapper said, watching as Wild scurried off with Chitter back into the forest.
"And I was hoping he would smurf around for a bit longer," Smurfette said. "It's just not fair that we only can smurf him around the holidays."
"This smurf is certain that he will return again, Smurfette, if how he feels towards you is genuine," Empath said.
"You're not seriously thinking that I'm going to fall in love with him now, are you?" Smurfette asked.
"This smurf does sense those feelings he has towards you, Smurfette," Empath said. "Who knows whether you will reciprocate them in time?"
"Well, don't think that you really know everything about me, Empath," Smurfette shot back. She then turned up her nose and left.
"I'm not sure smurfing her that she would fall in love with Wild was the wise thing to smurf, Empath," Tapper said, watching Smurfette depart.
"This smurf knows that she's free to choose whoever she wants, Tapper," Empath said. "If all we have between us are moments of fun before she settles down with someone, then this smurf will be satisfied with it."
"The way you two court with each other, Empath, tells me that you're not going to be satisfied with only 'moments of fun'," Tapper said. "I can't see Smurfette ever being satisfied with another Smurf besides you, even if she's now being attracted to Wild. I can only pray that nothing will ever smurf between you two except for the Almighty and allow Him to smurf your hearts where He wants them to go."
"For now, though, Smurfette is the best Christmas present this smurf will ever have," Empath said.