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Secrets for Santa and Singing Carols

Chapter 20

Chapter 20: Secrets for Santa and Singing Carols

     "Are we there yet?"

 

     "We're almost there."

 

     "When will we get there?"

 

     "Soon. Keep your shirt on."

 

     "But my feet hurt. And I'm tired and hungry."

 

     Kagome frowned at her companion. "Stop being such a baby, Inuyasha. Try to be more like Shiro." She indicated the little boy, an expression of concentration on his face as he played with a puzzle cube that Makiko had given him. At the sound of his name, Shiro looked up briefly, but went back to his toy when neither adult said anything to him.

 

     Inuyasha sighed and shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Whose idea was it to come to the mall the week before Christmas?"

 

     "You are the one who chose today, Inuyasha," Kagome reminded him. "Try to show a little more Christmas spirit."

 

     Stepping to the side, Inuyasha peered down the long line of excited kids and exhausted parents. "I think I see Santa Claus," he said, squinting. "Or maybe that's an elf."

 

     Kagome chose to ignore him. She squatted down next to Shiro. "What are you going to ask Santa to bring you?" Shiro turned the puzzle cube over in his hands, examining it thoughtfully.

 

     "It's a secret," he told her, looking up with a bright smile.

 

     "I can keep a secret," Kagome pressed.

 

     Shiro shook his head, turning his attention back to the puzzle. "I'm only gonna tell Santa."

 

     Kagome straightened with a sigh and a wince as her sore feet protested having to support her weight. The line moved forward about half a foot, before coming to a stop again. She idly started to count the number of harried shoppers with screaming or hyper children in tow.

 

     "Did you ever wonder why Santa's nose is red?" Inuyasha abruptly asked. Kagome's counting stalled at 139. She looked over at Inuyasha.

 

     "What?" What kind of question was that? Maybe the endless hours of waiting in line had snapped his feeble brain.

 

     "You know. Like in that story 'And his nose like a cherry.' Have you ever thought about it?"

 

     Kagome floundered for a reply to that. "I can't say that I have," she finally said.

 

     Inuyasha scanned the line of parents and children that snaked across half the mall. "I bet old Santa's been hitting the bottle pretty hard."

 

     Kagome almost choked. "Where did you get a silly idea like that?"

 

     Inuyasha turned to look at her, his eyes completely serious. "Think about it. This is the most stressful time of the year. Santa spends weeks surrounded by screaming, wetting, and vomiting rug rats. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns to drink to keep his sanity. If it was me, I'd go for something a whole lot stronger."

 

     Several parents gave Inuyasha odd looks. Kagome could feel her face heating up. She tried to think of something to say to distract Inuyasha from his current train of thought.

 

     "And what about that 'bowlful of jelly' thing?" he continued. Kagome opened her mouth, but Inuyasha wasn't paying attention to her anymore. He seemed to relish the unease he was causing in the adults near enough to hear him. In order to traumatize more kids, he pitched his voice a little louder.

 

     "All the slob eats are cookies and milk. The junk food goes straight to his waist. He's just a heart attack waiting to happen." Parents began to draw their kids away, leaving a clear space around Inuyasha. Kagome pretended not to know him while Shiro abandoned his toy to stare at his daddy.

 

     "And this guy is supposed to be a role model. He encourages kids to be good all year long, right?" Inuyasha looked around and grinned. Most people were hanging on his every word, though they pretended otherwise. He lowered his voice. People shifted closer to hear. "Santa Claus is a smoker." Inuyasha nodded. Kagome clapped her hands over Shiro's ears. "That's right. He smokes a pipe in that book ''Twas the Night Before Christmas.' His lungs are probably full of black rot, and his teeth are yellow, and he smells like--"

 

     "Having a good time, little brother?" Sesshoumaru's cool voice interrupted Inuyasha's speech. People all around heaved a sigh of relief to have the disturbing monologue terminated. Inuyasha cast a sour glance at his older brother.

 

     "Did you come just to spoil my fun, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha grumbled. Kagome grinned at Rin, peeking out from behind her guardian. Rin grinned back before hiding her face in Sesshoumaru's shirt. Shiro wiggled free from Kagome.

 

     "Hi, Uncle Fluffy," he chirped. "Did you come to see Santa Claus, too?"

 

     Sesshoumaru actually smiled at the little boy. Not much, but the corners of his mouth did turn upwards. "Rin wanted to come see Santa Claus." He tugged Rin out from behind him. She was holding a candy cane in one hand and wore a reindeer antler headband on her head. "Were you a good boy this year, Shiro? Remember, Santa can tell if you've been naughty or nice."

 

     Shiro nodded his head vigorously. "I've been very good. I didn't flush Daddy's keys, even though he looks really funny when he's yelling at the toilet.”  Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow at this statement.  Inuyasha sighed.  Kagome was right.  Maybe he should start teaching Shiro about tact. “And Nana says that I'm a perfect little angel."

 

     "Did Rin actually speak to Santa?" Kagome asked.

 

     "I conveyed Rin's wishes to Santa," Sesshoumaru said, looking over at Rin who was showing off her reindeer antlers to Shiro and three or four other kids. "Try to behave yourself, little brother. And Merry Christmas." He took Rin by the hand and led her away. She twisted to look over her shoulder and wave goodbye.

 

     Kagome and Inuyasha watched them walk down the crowded mall. Kagome had to admit that little Rin acted a lot spunkier than the first time they had met.

 

     "I don't -- Gah!" Inuyasha jumped as a young woman dressed in an elf costume appeared before him. She ignored the surprised parent and focused on Shiro.

 

     "You're next, little man," she chirped in a bright, cheerful voice. "And what is your name?"

 

     "I'm Shiro!" Shiro grinned at the overgrown elf. "Do you live with Santa at the North Pole? Did he bring his reindeer? How can Santa be here and on the street corner by the toy store, too? Where's the sleigh or did Santa take the bus? Daddy says the bus is for losers. If Santa can see me all the time, does he know what I had for breakfast?"

 

     "My, you ask a lot of questions." The elf looked a little taken back. She gave a weak smile. "Why don't you ask your mommy or daddy afterwards? I'm sure they can explain everything." She took Shiro by the hand and led him over to the jolly fat man. Inuyasha directed a sour look at the retreating elf's back.

 

     The elf lifted Shiro into Santa's lap and whispered something into Santa's ear. She stepped out of the way so that another elf could snap a picture of the two.

 

     "Ho, ho, ho," boomed Santa. "And what do you want for Christmas, Shiro?"

 

     "I want a new bike 'cause Daddy runned over my old one last month. And I want a puppy, and a red riding fire engine with working lights and siren, and a new drum. The old one got broked, but Daddy said that was okay 'cause it gived him a headache." Shiro pulled on Santa's beard. "This last one's a secret, so I'm going to whisper it, okay?" Santa obliging bent his head and listened while Shiro whispered something.

 

     "Sounds like a mighty big Christmas wish, Shiro." Santa cast a glance over at Kagome and Inuyasha, waiting patiently just beyond the camera. "I don't think that's the type of thing that Santa can do."

 

     "Just try," Shiro pleaded. "It's what I want most in the whole world." Santa smiled at Shiro and tweaked his nose. Shiro giggled and slid off his lap, grabbing the candy cane that the elf held out to him.

 

     "Be good, Shiro," Santa called, "and maybe you'll get your wish."

 

     "What did you whisper to Santa?" Inuyasha asked as they wove their way through the shoppers.

 

     "It's between me and Santa," Shiro replied, skipping between Inuyasha and Kagome. Faintly, through the rumbling of the crowd, could be heard the tinkling sounds of Christmas carols through the mall speakers.

 

^**^

 

     Inuyasha, Kagome, Shiro, Miroku, and Sango trooped up the snow covered walkway. The afternoon snow storm had finally ended, leaving the sky clear. Each breath they took filled the air with clouds of white. Bundled up for warmth, they paused before the door. Inuyasha rapped politely on the door. It squeaked open to reveal an elderly woman with a tattered pink shawl draped around her shoulders.  Inuyasha grinned at the pleased surprise in her eyes when he announced that they had come to sing Christmas carols for her.

 

     Kohaku and Souta had insisted that it was embarrassing for young men such as themselves to be seen singing Christmas carols with their big sisters.  They elected to sing this year with the group from church.  It was also rumored that the church group would be having a Christmas party at the last house with all the hot cider and sugared treats they could eat.  Kagome had been a little miffed at her brother until Inuyasha pointed out the young girl in the pink hat when they dropped the boys off at the church.  Souta kept blushing every time he looked at her.  Understanding dawned in Kagome’s eyes, and she filed the incident away to use as ammo the next time she needed to blackmail him.

 

     Behind Inuyasha, the others formed into three lines with the guys in back, the girls in the middle, and Shiro in front. Inuyasha took his place beside Miroku. At Miroku's signal, they began to sing.

 

     Deck the halls with boughs of holly.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     'Tis the season to be jolly.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     Don we now our gay apparel.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     Troll the ancient Yuletide carol.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

 

     After a rousing round of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and three verses of ‘Silent Night,’ Kagome noticed that the elderly woman was starting to shiver with the cold. With loud shouts of "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy New Year!" the small group headed for the next house.

 

     "Daddy?"

 

     "What is it, Shiro?" He held his son's mitten clad hand in his own, with his other arm draped around Kagome's shoulders. He blessed the cold weather that gave him an excuse to cuddle close to Kagome. Miroku and Sango leaned into each other, sharing their warmth.

 

     "What does 'deck' mean?" Inuyasha looked down at his son's upturned inquisitive face. "Like in the song," Shiro prompted.

 

     "It means decorate," Sango said. Shiro was silent for several steps.

 

     "Then why do they decorate the halls instead of the whole house?" he asked.

 

     "I'm sure they decorate the whole house." Miroku reassured him. "Halls just probably sounded better in the song."

 

     Shiro had another question after that one. "What are 'boughs of holly'?"

 

     "A bough is another word for a branch." Sango supplied the answer for that one, too. "And holly is a bush with green pointy leaves and red berries."

 

     "Oh." Shiro was quiet again. "What about 'season?' Is it like the seasons we learned at daycare? I know Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer."

 

     Kagome peered around Inuyasha to smile at Shiro. "It's referring to the Christmas season which comes in the winter. A time to be jolly, or cheerful."

 

     "Then what does 'don' mean?" The small group had come to a stop in the middle of the street while they translated the words in the song for Shiro.

 

     "It means 'to put something on,' Shiro," Sango told him. "What else do you want to know?"

 

     "Okay." Shiro scrunched up his face in thought. "What is 'apparel' and why is it 'gay’?"

 

     Inuyasha choked. Kagome pounded on his back in concern until he could stop coughing. "'Apparel is another word for clothing," he said when he had regained control of himself, "and… that other word… means bright or colorful when you are talking about clothes."

 

     Shiro nodded, accepting the explanation. "I don't understand 'troll' at all. What does that mean, Daddy?"

 

     "Um." Inuyasha floundered. He had never really thought about the words to the songs, just sung them. "Aren't trolls those ugly creatures in 'The Lord of the Rings’?"

 

     "No," Miroku corrected him. "Those are orcs. But I think there was a troll in that Harry Potter movie."

 

     "Oh, yeah," Inuyasha said. "I remember that. But are you sure that was a troll? I thought trolls were smaller and lived inside mountains."

 

     Miroku shook his head. "You're thinking about dwarves. Trolls are big and ugly and not too bright."

 

     "Boys!" Kagome raised her voice to interrupt the animated discussion. "We're discussing songs, not mythological beasts in movies."

 

     "Well, do you know what 'troll' means?" Inuyasha's eyes were mischievous, taunting her.

 

     "Of course I do." Kagome tossed her head so that her raven locks bounced. "I haven't lived this long with my grandpa without learning a bunch of old words." She turned to Shiro, who was starting to get bored. He perked up when Kagome offered to answer his question. "It means 'sing,' Shiro. Are there any more questions I can answer for you?"

 

     "What is an 'ancient Yuletide carol,' 'Gome?" The clouds had begun to drift in while they talked. Now, a few fat flakes of snow drifted down.

 

     Kagome opened her mouth to answer. "I know this one," Inuyasha spoke up. "To be 'ancient' is to be very old." His eyes glinted with humor. "Like Kagome's grandpa." He ducked as Kagome tried to smack him. She missed and he grabbed her, encircling her with his arms and pinning her hands at her sides. "Now, oh wise one," he teased. "Explain 'Yuletide.'"

 

     Kagome tried to twist around and glare at him, but his position behind her made that impossible. She finally relaxed into his arms. His hold shifted, becoming gentler. "'Yuletide' is talking about Christmas time, Shiro. And the carols are the songs we sing."

 

     Shiro nodded his head once. "I got it! Thanks!" They started walking again, making their way to the next house. "Can I sing the next song all by myself?"

 

     Inuyasha nodded while he rang the bell. A young couple answered the door, looking pleased to see the carolers. "A Christmas carol by Shiro," Inuyasha announced. Shiro took a deep breath.

 

     Decorate the house with branches of pointy bushes.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     It is the winter to be cheerful.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     Now we put on our colorful clothing.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

     Sing the very very old Christmas song.

     Fa la la la la la la la la.

 

     The adults collapsed against each other, laughing hysterically. Shiro finished his song with a flourish, looking very pleased with himself. The couple looked from the little boy to the convulsing adults and began to very slowly back away. They didn't take their eyes off the strangers until the door was safely closed and bolted.

 

     Snow was coming down more thickly, sticking to eyelashes and melting on the tips of noses. Inuyasha swung Shiro up into his arms. "That was our last house. It's time to go home and get out of the snow."

 

     "Christmas is my favoritest holiday." Shiro yawned and snuggled close to his daddy." "I love you, Daddy."

 

     Inuyasha gave Shiro a little squeeze. "I love you, too, Shiro."

 

^**^

 

Food for thought: (courtesy of Miyuki-Chan5)

 

Imagination is more important than knowledge

--Albert Einstein

 

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004