Lumpy really wasn't sure he could do what he was going to do. It was Christmas Eve, and for many years, he had taken on the role of Santa and delivered presents to his friends. He loved doing that; the main reason he did it was because he wanted to make their Christmases as wonderful as possible. This year, however, an unexpected and unfortunate event had happened - an event that would turn this job into a challenge. Lumpy wasn't feeling so good.
His head hurt constantly, and his throat felt very sore and dry. He was feeling very tired and sore; just turning or tilting his neck caused a persistent pain to run down his spine. His nose was a bright red hue, with occasional drops of mucus oozing out of his nostrils, and had become extremely sensitive and ticklish. Lumpy had sneezed several times this morning.
However, despite that he was feeling sick, Lumpy wanted to make his friends' Christmases the best holidays that they had ever had. He made a plan to just hold back his sneezes, and try to keep them as quiet as he could. He wouldn't let his sick and sneezy self get in the way of his mission.
But little did the moose know, this wasn't going to be as easy as he thought it would...
Lumpy stood outside of Cuddles' house, the moose being dressed up in Santa's iconic outfit (except for the beard; he didn't want to make himself need to sneeze even more). It was snowing gently outside, and the cold air that surrounded him made him shiver.
"You can do this, Lumpy. Believe in yourself," Lumpy said to himself. "You've messed up a few times before, but you can't mess up this time..."
Lumpy then tilted his neck back and took a deep sniffle, trying to clear his slightly runny nose. That worked slightly, but his nostrils began to twitch and quiver. The freezing cold air was tickling his hypersensitive nose, making it itch.
Lumpy raised his hand to his nose and rubbed several times. It became clear that this wasn't helping, however. Removing his hand, Lumpy reached into his pocket and pulled out a soft, white handkerchief, which he had decided to bring from his house. He rubbed it under his nose as he tried to soothe the ever-growing tickle in his nose. But that wasn't working, either, since the germs that were causing his sickness were tickling his nose as well.
"Aaah..." Lumpy tilted his neck back slightly. "Aaaaaaahhhh..."
Knowing what was going to happen, Lumpy stopped rubbing his nose and prepared to sneeze into his handkerchief. It was a better idea to let it out now than have to release it while he was inside the house. He didn't want to risk waking Cuddles up.
"Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh... Aaaaah, AaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH..." Lumpy's nostrils flared to several times his normal size as he tilted his neck as far back as he could. He was pretty sure this would be a really satisfying sneeze; hopefully, enough to not make him need to sneeze again for a while. But there was only one way to find out... "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-"
Lumpy shot his neck forwards as he released the sneeze, which blew the handkerchief away from his nostrils. One could clearly see him firing a large amount of spray from his mouth and a large amount of mucus from his nostrils. The saliva went airborne as the mucus landed right into the ground, sticking to the snow once it had made contact. It was a bit painful to release the sneeze, but at the same time, it was pretty satisfying.
Ever so gently, Lumpy rubbed his forefinger under his runny nose, sniffling deeply. True to his expectations, his sneeze did feel great to let out. Pulling his forefinger away, he raised his handkerchief to his nose and blew hard, clearing his nose slightly. He sighed with relief as he wiped the excess mucus off his nose, and then cleaned off his forefinger with the handkerchief.
"I bet my nose liked that," he said to himself. "Now let's deliver these presents."
Putting his handkerchief back in his pocket, Lumpy walked up to the back of the house and started to climb up to the roof. Despite that he still had a minor headache from his sickness, he managed to make it up to the top. Panting a few times to relax a little bit, Lumpy rubbed his head, trying to make it feel better. Ignoring the fact that it wasn't subsiding, he crawled over to the chimney, making sure there wasn't any smoke coming out. Thankfully, there wasn't.
"Okay. Here I go," he said quietly.
He stepped into the chimney, held onto his bag of presents and slid down the chimney. It felt like a long fall, but he made it to the bottom with a thud. He opened his eyes to realize that he was in Cuddles' living room, where the Christmas tree was waiting.
Lumpy crawled out from the fireplace and stood up, clouds of soot filling the air after his landing. His nostrils quivered due to the soot, and he absentmindedly rubbed under his nose with his forefinger, trying to defend his nose from the tickly black dust.
"Ugh, darn soot..." he muttered to himself. He was glad it wasn't as strong or as painful as pepper, but it frequently caused problems for his nose. Once even a small amount had made it into at least one of his nostrils, it would tickle his nose strongly until he sneezed it all out. But Lumpy couldn't sneeze now... If Cuddles heard him, this would all be ruined.
Lumpy rubbed his forefinger furiously under his nose, trying to counter the tickle. But what he didn't realize was how sensitive his nose had become thanks to his illness. His nostrils grew and shrunk over and over, begging for him to sneeze and get it over with. He didn't have much of a choice.
"Ah, aaaaah..." Lumpy raised his hands over his mouth and nose as he tilted his neck back. He was going to try to stifle this sneeze. It probably wouldn't be a good idea, but he had to try so that he wouldn't be too loud. "AAAAAAH-"
"Chooo!" A painful sensation made its way through his body, but on the bright side, he managed to make it clean and quiet. It wasn't enough relief, however, so he let out another quiet sneeze into the palms of his hands, hoping it would help. "Aah-chooo!"
These sneezes might not have been as satisfying as Lumpy wanted them to be, but they were at least enough relief for his nose. Lumpy rubbed his nose with his forefinger, looking disappointed that he couldn't stop his sneezes, but at least glad he could keep them quiet. He wiped his hands off on his coat, and then reached into his bag of presents.
He pulled out a couple of gifts with Cuddles' name on them, and set them under the tree. Feeling satisfied, he went back to the fireplace, entered it and climbed back up to the roof. He could feel clouds of soot gathering around him as he made his way up the chimney, but he mostly coughed a lot from it. By the time he had made it to the top, however, a small cloud of soot got up his nose, making him need to sneeze.
"Aaaaaah-" Before he could sneeze, however, Lumpy reached his hand over to his nostrils and plugged them with his thumb and forefinger. The sneeze was stopped in its tracks, but now the soot was trapped inside his nostrils, leaving a perpetual tickle inside.
Crawling away from the chimney, Lumpy climbed down the roof until he made it back to the ground. It wasn't easy trying to stave off the urge to sneeze until he was far enough away from earshot, but he managed. The moment he felt his boots land back on the snow, Lumpy walked as far away from Cuddles' house as he could so he wouldn't hear him. Once he knew he got far enough, he let go of his nose, waiting for the sneeze to release.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH-" Lumpy took a massive breath as he tilted his entire neck backward, nostrils flaring and snout twitching. And then, it came. "CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Lumpy's sneeze was a lot larger and a great deal louder than the last two he had released. A good amount of spray came out of his mouth, and a large amount of mucus was fired out of both nostrils. Luckily, this sneeze was enough to clear the soot from his nasal passages, even though Lumpy's nose started to run a bit after the sneeze.
Lumpy sniffled and rubbed his nose with his forefinger, then pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose deeply into it. Then he wiped his nose a few times until it felt satisfied.
Seeing that his mucus was starting to look visible on the handkerchief, Lumpy removed it from his nose and shook the cloth out, trying to get the mucus off. Some of it was flung off into the snow, but some still remained. Lumpy had to pull it off with his fingers just to clean it off.
Lumpy then went over to the next house available, Toothy's house. He balled up his handkerchief and put it back in his pocket, and then wiped the excess phlegm off his fingers with his coat. He then proceeded toward the back of the house and climbed up to the roof, ever so carefully so he wouldn't wake up Toothy.
Soon, Lumpy made it up to the top of the roof and panted for a few moments, trying to catch his breath. He coughed a few times due to his sore throat and sniffled wetly due to his runny nose when he was done.
Lumpy wiped his nose with his sleeve, wishing it would stop running. He may have been feeling terrible, but he just wanted to keep delivering these presents to his friends before Christmas morning. He had already gotten all of his gifts wrapped, even while he was sick.
Lumpy went over to the chimney, entered it and slid down into the house. He tried to stop himself just before he reached the bottom, but there was nothing he could do to execute that, and clouds of soot arose where he landed.
As he crawled out from the fireplace, Lumpy's nose tickled and his nostrils flared from the powdery soot that was floating around. Fearing the worst, Lumpy raised his forefinger to his nostrils and rubbed back and forth, trying to relieve the tickling sensation. To his dismay, it wasn't working.
"Ugh, why don't these people ever clean their chimneys?" he wondered to himself. "They're so dusty!"
Just hearing himself say the word dusty caused Lumpy's nose to tickle even more, and his nostrils flared to an even larger size. He was going to sneeze again. Lumpy could feel his breath beginning to hitch.
"Aaaaah..." Lumpy pressed his forefinger against his nose as it twitched and quivered. He just couldn't sneeze right now, but his nose just felt so itchy. And the fact that he still wasn't feeling well didn't help at all. "Aaaaaaah... AaaaaaaAAAAAH..."
Lumpy cringed internally as his inhales started to get louder. His sneeze wasn't going to be as easy to stifle now. But what if somebody would hear him? If he couldn't stifle his sneeze, there was only one possible thing he could do: hide right after the sneeze.
Lumpy pulled out his handkerchief and held it over his nose, not wanting to make a mess with his approaching sneeze. His nostrils flared and rumbled as his snout quivered and twitched.
"Aaaaaaah... AaaaaaaAAAAAAAAH..." Lumpy really didn't want to sneeze, but he had just about no choice in the matter. He was going to let it out, whether he wanted to or not. "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH-"
Lumpy doubled over as he released the sneeze into the handkerchief, the edges fluttering around with his release. And as he feared, it was incredibly loud. But it at least provided a good amount of relief from that pesky tickle the soot had been torturing him with.
Lumpy enjoyed the relief he received as he rubbed his nose with his forefinger. Unfortunately for him, it was short-lived, as he heard a familiar voice as well as footsteps approaching.
"Whoa, what the heck was that?" Toothy asked as he walked down the stairs.
Lumpy started to panic. Toothy was coming, and he had to hide somewhere, and fast. Lumpy ran behind the sofa and stayed there, trying to keep himself out of view. He held his breath, trying to stay quiet.
Toothy stopped once he had reached the doorway to the living room, and looked around from where he stood. He didn't see anything unusual, except a couple clouds of soot floating around the fireplace before settling to the floor, but he didn't bother to question that. He simply raised an eyebrow, scratching one side of his head with his forefinger.
"I could've sworn I heard a sneeze..."
He turned back to the stairs and started to climb back upstairs, yawning into his hand along the way. Lumpy popped his head out from behind the sofa and smiled as he watched him go. It was a miracle.
Lumpy wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and sighed quietly with relief. Then, reaching to his bag of gifts, he pulled out a few presents that had Toothy's name on them and set them under the Christmas tree. As he did, however, one of the branches on the Christmas tree touched his nose, the bristles brushing and tickling his nostrils.
"Oh, come on-!" Lumpy wanted to act dismayed about what was going to happen from this, but he really couldn't, as his nostrils started to flare up again. Another sneeze was coming, again. "Aaaaah..."
Lumpy pulled out his handkerchief and held it to his nostrils. He didn't notice that there was still some mucus covering the cloth, and the mucus that was remaining was smeared against his nose. The germs that he had blown out of his nose earlier entered his nostrils, tickling the insides of his nasal passages and making him need to sneeze even more.
"Aaaaaaah, AAAAAAAH-" Tilting his neck back, Lumpy used all of his strength to pinch his nose into the handkerchief, wanting to stifle the sneeze. It was the only way he could think of to keep from giving himself away. And it worked, but led to a short fit of tiny, painful sneezes.
"Ah-choooo! Aaah-choooo! Ah... Aaaah-chooooooooo!"
All three of the sneezes managed to be clean and quiet, but Lumpy could feel his nose running afterwards. He rubbed his nostrils with the handkerchief, blowing his nose slightly and trying hard not to be too loud. He then looked around the room and sighed in relief. Toothy most likely hadn't heard those sneezes, or didn't pay much attention to them.
Putting away his handkerchief, Lumpy finished setting the presents under the tree, and then went back to the fireplace. He climbed back up to the top of the roof, coughing a little as he loosened soot from the flue walls. When he finally made it out of the chimney, he kneeled down, panting and coughing. He was feeling horrible, there was no doubt about that, but he really wanted to finish delivering his presents to the remainder of his friends. He just wanted them to be happy.
Luckily, there was only one place Lumpy had chosen to stop by left: Sniffles' house. Lumpy was pretty sure he could make it. Lumpy climbed down the roof and headed over to Sniffles' house, sniffling every step of the way. When he finally got there, he climbed up to the top of the roof, trying to be as quiet as he could be.
By the time he had made it up there, his nose had started running and itching slightly due to his illness. Lumpy rubbed his arm back and forth under his nose, thinking this would have more of an effect than if he used his forefinger or hand. The itch soon faded away, but his nose still felt a little runny.
He crawled toward the chimney, stepped into it and slid down to the bottom of the fireplace. Again, a good amount of soot arose from where he landed. But this time, he held his nose with his forefinger and thumb, trying not to let any soot into his nostrils. He succeeded, but he was pretty sure he knew what was going to happen soon.
Letting go of his nose, Lumpy crawled out of the fireplace and stood up, dusting himself off. He then put down his bag of presents, which was nearly empty, and pulled out a few presents that had Sniffles' name on them. He set each one of them under the Christmas tree.
Lumpy stood up again and breathed a deep sigh of relief. His work was finally finished, and he could go home and go to bed. As he went back to the fireplace, however, his nose twitched and his nostrils flared up again, and he noticed.
"Oh, not again…" Lumpy thought to himself. He sniffled deeply and brought his hand up to rub his nose. As he feared, it wasn't working as well as he thought it would. His nose continued to wiggle around, as his nostrils continued to grow and shrink repeatedly. He was going to sneeze.
"Aaaah…" Lumpy inhaled, and then pressed his forefinger under his nose. He couldn't sneeze now; he was simply too close to getting out of here. He kept his forefinger under his nose until the urge to sneeze weakened, enough for him to stop inhaling, but still leaving a tiny tickle in his nostrils. "Ah."
Lumpy carefully pulled his forefinger away, and then proceeded up the chimney. He had to use both hands in order to climb up to the top, but he tried as hard as he could not to breathe through his nose. But the closer he got to the roof, the more the urge to sneeze grew.
Eventually, when he finally made it to the top, Lumpy popped his head out from the chimney, only for a cloud of soot to emerge right when he did so. His nose twitched and wiggled around as his nostrils flared up. Knowing what was going to happen, the moose hastily crawled out of the chimney. He tried to make his way towards the edge of the roof, but the tickle in his nose was getting more urgent by the second, and a few desperate gasps slipped out of his mouth when he started climbing down the roof.
Lumpy tilted his neck back as he inhaled. Deep down, he was fearing the worst; even if Sniffles had gone to sleep, he seriously doubted he wouldn't hear this sneeze. But all his nose wanted to do was let that sneeze free. He didn't have much of a choice.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…" When Lumpy finally reached the ground, he stepped onto the snow and ran as far away from Sniffles' house as he could. But he couldn't get much further than a few feet, since the urge to sneeze had become absolutely undeniable. He absolutely had to release it, whether he liked it or not. With his snout quivering and his nostrils growing as widely as they could, Lumpy tilted his neck as far back as he could as he gave a final inhale.
A painful sensation surged through Lumpy's entire body, especially his chest and nose, as he shot his neck forwards with the sneeze. A massive amount of spit came spraying out of his mouth, and a huge amount of sticky mucus came blasting out of his nose. The saliva spray journeyed off into the air, while the mucus landed right onto the snow.
From his bedroom, Sniffles, who had been sleeping in his bed, heard the sneeze. But rather than waking up, he simply stirred in his sleep, smiling and giggling slightly in adoration. He had visualized Lumpy releasing that sneeze, and enjoyed it, even if it wasn't something out of his dream.
"Gesundheit, Lumpy…" he muttered in his sleep.
Back outside, Lumpy's forefinger immediately went to rub underneath his red nostrils, which had started to run constantly due to the massive sneeze. As powerful as that sneeze had been, it felt amazing to release, and had brought a massive amount of relief to his unfortunate nose. Lumpy sniffled deeply, trying to suck the mucus back up his nose.
Reaching into his pocket, Lumpy pulled out his handkerchief, held it to his nose and blew loudly, trying to stop his nose from running. It wasn't working, but that was okay. Lumpy just smiled in relief as he wiped his nose, rubbing the handkerchief over his nostrils.
"I cad fidally go to bed…" he said to himself. His voice had begun to sound stuffy than it had sounded earlier.
Lumpy then returned home, sniffling and occasionally coughing along the way. When he finally reached his house, he took off his hat, coat and boots, cringing as he felt a massive chill surge through his body. He then put his festive costume in the closet so that he could wear it again next year.
Lumpy then tossed his handkerchief in the washer and started it up, setting it to the lowest possible load setting. Feeling satisfied, Lumpy went into the living room just as his nose tickled again.
"Aaaah… Aaaaaaahhhhh…" Lumpy tilted his neck back as he inhaled. He would have tried to hold it back again, but he really didn't have to, as he wasn't outside. So he sniffled slightly, waiting for the sneeze to come. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-"
"CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Lumpy shot his neck forwards as he sneezed, with a large amount of spray and mucus coming out of his mouth and nose.
Lumpy then rubbed his nose with his forefinger, sniffling as he grabbed a tissue from the tissue box on the coffee table. He blew his nose into the tissue, trying as hard as he could to clear his runny and stuffy nose, and then wiped it gently. Throwing the tissue away, Lumpy looked over at the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, close to his fireplace. From the fireplace hung a blue stocking with white snowflakes on it, and Lumpy's name was written very close to the edge of the stocking.
Getting an idea, Lumpy took a sticky note and a pencil, and decided to write a note to the real Santa. This is what he wrote:
"Dear Santa, I'm looking forward to your arrival, but I'm afraid I'm not feeling so good this year. Of all the nights my body could've chosen to get sick, it chose this night. Now my head hurts, my throat hurts and I sneeze a lot. Then again, I sneeze all the time, but especially when I'm sick, like I am now. Maybe you could send me some more tissues, please…? From, Lumpy. P.S., no milk or cookies, sorry."
Lumpy placed the sticky note on the fireplace, just above his stocking. Putting his pencil away, he turned off the light and walked out of the living room. He changed into his pajamas and crawled into bed, wrapping himself in all of the blankets that were on the bed. It took him a while to fall asleep due to his stuffy nose, which kept clogging and unclogging throughout the night, but he soon dozed off, snoring through his mouth.
The next morning, Lumpy woke up a lot later than he usually did on Christmas morning. Usually, on this day of the year, he woke up at almost seven in the morning, but this time, he woke up when it was half past nine. He sat up in bed, rubbing his eye with one hand as he sniffled congestedly. He was still feeling sick, but at least he could open his presents. Lumpy gathered all of his strength to step out of bed and slowly walked out of his room.
As he headed toward the living room, he sniffled, coughed and rubbed his nose frequently. On at least two occasions, he thought he was going to sneeze, but the urge faded before he could. Eventually, he made it to the living room, and just under the Christmas tree was a variety of presents, just for him. Lumpy was surprised and delighted to see them, as any child would be on Christmas morning.
Lumpy walked over to the Christmas tree to inspect the presents, but before he could select even one of them to open, he noticed that there was a piece of paper in his stocking. Most likely, not the sticky note he had left for Santa. He took the piece of paper out of the stocking and read it.
"Dear Lumpy, I'm so sorry to hear you're not feeling well. You poor thing, always getting sick and sneezing… But I feel your pain; I've been sick on Christmas Eve before, too. And since you've been good all year, I decided to help you out. Here's some tissues and cold medicine, just for you, in addition to your presents. I promise that they'll help you feel better. Love, Santa."
Lumpy smiled as he read the letter. He couldn't believe that Santa could relate to his illness, but his decision to leave him tissues and medicine out of sympathy was such a kind action, it was heartwarming. Lumpy was going to say something to himself, but his nose twitched, and he turned away from the letter and sneezed.
The sneeze contained relatively less spray and less mucus than most of his sneezes from the night before, but it was still pretty loud. Lumpy rubbed his nose with his forefinger as he turned back to the letter, only to notice it had some extra text on it.
"P.S., bless you."
Lumpy blushed, still smiling as he continued to rub his nose.
"I ab truly blessed…" he said to himself.
Lumpy then checked his stocking, and it turned out that Santa had left a bottle of liquid cold medicine in it, just for him. The bottle said that the medicine was "cherry-flavored," but Lumpy seriously doubted it would taste good, and there was a small measuring cup covering the cap on the bottle. Lumpy brought the bottle into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water.
He then poured a small amount of medicine into the measuring cup, making sure it was the recommended dosage that he needed for his illness. He nervously drank the medicine down, cringing from the horrible taste, which he then tried to drown out with a swig of his water. It helped slightly, but Lumpy could still feel a slight aftertaste in his mouth, even though his stuffy nose could have kept him from tasting it.
Lumpy filled the measuring cup with a small amount of water to get the rest of the medicine, and then drank that down as well. After that, Lumpy finished his water and got another glass, which he then drank to get rid of the aftertaste in his mouth. Feeling more satisfied, Lumpy closed his bottle of medicine, finished his water, and went back into the living room to open his presents.
Under the Christmas tree, there were about ten presents, all of which were for Lumpy since he lived by himself. Among the stash, Lumpy had received a wool scarf that was light blue and had white snowflakes covering it, matching his stocking; a dark blue electric blanket; a CD that contained all of his favorite songs by a certain band; a copy of Kirby: Planet Robobot for the Nintendo 3DS; and a copy of Mario Party: The Top 100 for the same system, among others. Lumpy was happy to receive these presents and all, but only one of them really made him happy.
That one present was a DVD of My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure. The final adaption to the third generation of My Little Pony (which Lumpy absolutely loved as a guilty pleasure), and also the one that Lumpy was the most fascinated with. He watched it constantly online, ignoring his friends' comments on how "outdated" and "childish" it was, and insisting that it was the best movie of 2009. In his mind, the third generation of My Little Pony was a great deal better than the fourth generation, Friendship is Magic, which Lumpy was always reluctant to pay attention to.
With all of his presents opened, Lumpy threw away the excess wrapping paper and ribbons that he had pulled off. He then went into the kitchen to fix himself some chicken noodle soup for an early lunch. He sniffled, coughed and occasionally sneezed while he was cooking it, but he kept turning away from his food and rubbing his nose after all of the sneezes. When it was finally ready, Lumpy took a tray, put the bowl of soup onto it and carried it into the living room.
Setting the tray onto the coffee table, Lumpy placed his new box of tissues (the one that Santa had put in his stocking for him) on the tray and put on his scarf. He put the DVD of Twinkle Wish Adventure into the DVD player and sat down on the couch, covering his body with the electric blanket. He turned on the electric blanket, setting it to its highest setting since he was feeling so cold. The box that the electric blanket came in stated that it was water resistant. Feeling ready to watch the movie on DVD for the first time ever, Lumpy took the tray, opened the handles under it, placed it onto his lap and pressed the play button on the remote. When the main menu came on, he selected "Play Movie," and the movie began. Lumpy watched the movie from the start to the finish, even when he was finished with his soup.
Despite that he still coughed and sneezed throughout the holiday, Lumpy actually had a great Christmas. It probably would have been the best if he weren't sick, but it was still something to remember long after Christmas. He also couldn't help but wonder how his friends' holidays had turned out to be. What he didn't know was that they, indeed, had a good Christmas as well.
Cuddles got Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch, and spent hours playing it once his presents had all been opened.
Toothy got The Dog Island for Playstation 2 and Nintendogs + Cats for the Nintendo 3DS, both of which he enjoyed a good amount.
And Sniffles got a container of sneezing powder and a sneeze-inducing kit, which mainly contained feathers, pepper and other sneeze-causing powders. He happily planned to use these on his friends sometime in the future.
When his movie was finally over, Lumpy proceeded to enjoy the rest of his Christmas in peace, if his symptoms didn't count. It might not have been the best, but it was at least a good memory. Completing all of the hard work he had done on Christmas Eve, even though he had been feeling sick then, might have been a challenge, but if so, this day alone was a major reward.