Once upon a December, somewhere in Russia, the winter was icy and cold. The city was dressed all in white. You could hear the wonderful sound of crunchy snow, as people were walking in a hurry to get to their destination. The white branches of the trees had sunk into complete stillness, as the beautifully shaped snowflakes landed on them, dancing in the magical view of the white landscape.
Alisa got up willingly from her bed. She ran straight to the kitchen, following the nice smell that was tickling her nose.
-Good morning mom! she exclaimed happily.
-Good morning dear, breakfast will be ready in five minutes. Sirniki * with raspberry jam and hot chocolate, her mom said smiling.
-Yummy! My favorite! I’m going to get dressed and I’ll be right back! she said and ran to her room bouncing.
It was the last day of school, before the winter break. The last one of the year. Alisa was very excited, because she would be wearing her favorite new red scarf and a beautiful colorful dress that her godmother had knitted for her as a Christmas gift. She looked in the mirror to brush her long brown hair. She had big brown eyes, long eyelashes, tiny nose and thin lips. Like a porcelain doll.
After having breakfast, she headed off to school.
Alisa was holding her mom’s hand and staring at the snowflakes that were falling on them, as they walked. Within a few minutes her scarf and her hat had turned white.
– I like snow mom. I wish it snowed all year round. It’s so beautiful and magical! she exclaimed.
Her mom smiled at her and gently stroked her shoulder.
At the entrance to the school, all the children said goodbye to their parents and hurried to enter the building. Alisa hugged her mom and headed to her classroom.
When the school bell rang after the first class, all the children gathered in the school yard. Some of them started playing snowball fights and others were making little snowmen. Only a tiny girl was left in the classroom alone. She melancholically looked out of the window at her classmates, who were playing carefree and happily.
At that moment, Alisa tried to catch a small pine cone from a tall pine tree that was standing in the middle of the yard. But when she abruptly shook a long branch, a large avalanche fell on her making her look like a snowman. After a few seconds of silence, all the children burst out laughing.
-Alisa, go quickly to the classroom and sit next to the radiator to warm up and dry, Alisa’s teacher said in a strict tone.
– Right away Mrs. Ivanovna, Alisa said shivering.
Snowflakes were all over her. Inside her boots, her neck and her sleeves.
When Alisa entered the classroom, she was surprised to see the tiny girl sitting alone and reading a book. The girl glanced at her and looked down at her book again.
– What are you doing up here alone? Alisa asked.
The girl gave Alisa a shy look.
-It’s….it’s cold out there, she said stuttering.
-Why don’t you wear your scarf, hat and gloves? This way you will be warm. All the kids are playing and having fun in the yard, come on! Alisa said enthusiastically.
-Thank you, but …. I prefer to sit here.
-But it’s the last day of school today, don’t you want to have some fun? Alisa insisted.
At that moment the bell rang and the students started filling the classroom.
When the day was over, teachers and children exchanged holiday wishes and said goodbye to each other. Alisa was standing at the exit of the school to put on her new red scarf, when she saw the tiny girl again. She was walking in the snow, huddled up in cold, in a very thin jacket, without a scarf, hat or gloves.
Alisa couldn’t believe her eyes. She realized, why the girl didn’t want to play in the yard. She was cold, because she didn’t have warm clothes to wear.
“Why hadn’t I noticed her for so long?” she thought sadly.
Without a second thought, Alisa ran after the girl and grabbed her arm.
– I’m so sorry! she said.
-What for? the girl asked puzzled.
-For I don’t even know your name ….. for I made you feel uncomfortable today, Alisa said in a low voice.
-My name is Alina. I’m fine. Don’t worry and don’t apologize, she replied smiling.
-Alina? Really? My name is Alisa!
The two girls laughed. Alisa unwrapped the red scarf from around her neck with a quick movement and offered it to Alina.
-Happy holidays Alina! It’s very warm, wear it!
Alina hesitated to take it, but Alisa insisted with her gaze.
-Thank you a lot! It’s the first Christmas gift I’m getting this year!
-Happy holidays Alisa!
-Happy holidays Alina!
At that moment, a beautiful large snowflake landed on the red scarf swirling.
-Look how beautiful! Do you like snowflakes? Alisa asked.
-Yes, I do. They hide all the winter magic, she replied.
At that moment, Alisa heard her mother’s voice calling her name. She had came to pick her up.
-Coming mom! she exclaimed.
She turned back to say goodbye to her new friend, but she was gone. Alisa was surprised. That tiny girl had literally disappeared in two seconds. “Where did she go and how did she walk so fast?” Alisa silently wondered.
-Hi Natasha! Did you see a girl from our class named Alina? She was just standing right next to me, Alisa asked her friend who was walking by.
-Hi! Who is Alina? We don’t have any girl in our class named Alina and no, I didn’t see anyone standing next to you. Are you ok? asked Natasha curiously.
-Yes, never mind. Happy Holidays, Alisa said puzzled and walked away.
When Alisa returned home, she told her mother what had happened.
– Well done sweetheart! It’s a beautiful thing to give to those in need! she said smiling proudly.
The days passed by and New Year’s Eve arrived. Alisa was looking forward to open her gift. It was there, under the tree, a red square box was waiting for her, wrapped in a red shiny ribbon. The next day, Alisa tore the wrapper, tossed the ribbon and carefully opened the box. There was a magnificent all-white glass snowball. There were small houses with snowed roofs inside the snowball. Alisa shook it and the snowflakes inside swirled gracefully.
-So, it will snow all year round, as you wished. Do you remember?
-It’s a perfect gift mom and dad, thank you!
Alisa hugged her parents tightly and started singing Christmas carols.
It was getting late. Alisa was sitting in the living room and staring at the glass snowball. “What would it look like, if I shook it in the middle of a real snow?” she thought. Then she opened the window and pulled the snowball out, holding it tightly with both hands. When she shook it through the snowflakes that were incessantly falling outside, she instinctively looked down and saw Alina wrapped in the red scarf, walking in the snow. She called her, but her shape slowly faided away, until she couldn’t see her anymore. Suddenly, a beautiful large snowflake landed on Alisa’s snowball. Like the one that had landed on the red scarf earlier.
At that moment, something magical happened. The snowflake transformed into crystal one and gently fell on her feet. Alisa picked it up. The snow swirled with a strong wind and a calm voice said:
-This is a gift for you to always remind you of your kindness. Never forget that good deeds from the heart are always rewarded. Merry Christmas Alisa, the snow whispered and stopped swirling, as if by magic the wind faded away.
-This is real winter magic, she said stunned, watching the snowflakes dance in the night sky.
*Sweet fried pancakes known in the cuisine of Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Serbia and Belarus.
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