"Where are we going daddy?" Olga excitedly asked her father, as she and her family were grabbing their coats and boots.
Christmas Day at the Pataki residence meant a lavish lunch followed by a movie. This was a tradition she cherished. Olga knew that while her parents weren't the most attentive and celebratory people, Christmas was one holiday that not even Big Bob would blow off for a major deal.
"Wherever you want Olga," Big Bob said with proud smile on his face. Olga smiled. Her father was letting her choose the place to eat and the movie to watch.
"The Sushi place on Washington Avenue," Olga said happily, "And the Happy Elves." Big Bob rolled his eyes at Olga's childish choice, but still accepted it.
"C'mon Miriam, let's get going," Big Bob said with some impatience.
"OK, Bob," Miriam said, a happy smile on her normally morose face, as she put on her coat. Olga looked at her mom with some pride. Despite her demons, Miriam wasn't let them prevent her from having fun.
"I can't help but think we're forgetting something," Miriam said. The Patakis stood around, wondering what they were missing.
"What could we be forgetting?" Big Bob asked, chin in his hand. "Oh yeah," he said, grabbing something off of the counter. "My watch."
"And, my baby sister," Olga said happily.
"Oh yeah," Big Bob muttered as Olga cheerfully ran upstairs to Helga's room. "The other kid."
Olga ran up to the door to Helga's room and politely tapped on it.
"Helga," Olga asked happily. "Are you ready to go?"
"Yes," Helga said. Olga's eyes narrowed. Olga knew her sister was a bit of a grump. But instead saying "Yeah, yeah," with an annoyed tone, she sounded melancholy.
"Helga, is everything OK?" Olga asked with some concern in her voice. The door suddenly opened and Helga emerged with her coat and hat. Instead of the usual scowl on Helga's face, Helga looked…sad and tired.
"Helga, what's wrong?" Olga asked.
"Nothing," Helga said unconvincingly. What stunned Olga was that Helga wasn't even trying to push her away.
"Helga, tell me what it is?" Olga asked with some alarm in her voice. "Oh wait, let me guess. You're upset because I'm only going to be here for two more days?"
"Yeah," Helga said, her eyes darting back and forth. "That's…it."
"Well don't worry baby sister," Olga said, giving Helga what she thought was a comforting hug. "I'm promise to visit more often."
"Thanks," Helga said with a forced smile on her face.
"Now come on," Olga said, taking Helga's hand and pulling her down the stairs. "Let's get going."
The two reached the first floor, with a cheerful looking Miriam and an impatient looking Bob were waiting for them.
"Let's go already." Big Bob said with some impatience. Miriam looked down at Helga and frowned.
"Helga, where are the boots I bought you?" Miriam said with some concern, noticing Helga was wearing her old boots. Olga noticed Helga's uncomfortable expression returned.
"Well," Helga said uneasily, "I…don't want to ruin their resale value in the snow.". Olga frowned again, seeing Helga look so shaken up.
"Ah, know that's how a Pataki thinks," Big Bob said with pride.
Miriam accepted the answer, silently turning to the door. When she opened it, she found some fat, bespectacled, bald man near the door. He was carrying some kind of wrapped present.
"Is this the Pataki residence?" the man asked.
"Yes," Miriam said.
"The Helga G. Pataki residence," the man repeated.
"Who's at the door Miriam?" Big Bob asked in a frustrated tone. "Oh, it is one of these nuts asking for handouts!" Big Bob got up into the man's face, who stepped back from Big Bob's aggression. "Listen bum, we've got a whole of day of Christmas to celebrate! So why don't you-,"
"Mr. Bailey," Helga said, running to the front door. "What are you doing here?"
"Helga, who's your…friend?" Olga said awkwardly, not thinking of a better way to describe the man.
"Call me Bailey," Mr. Bailey said. He held out the package in question. "I have…something to give her."
"Really," Helga said with some interest.
"You got my sister a present?" Olga asked, her concern about the man giving way to cheer.
"Sort of," the man said with an uneasy smile. Helga opened the box, and to her surprise, she found the Nancy Spumoni snow boats in there.
"You're giving these back?" Helga said with surprise.
"Give back?" Miriam asked with confusion. "What do you mean-,"
"One of your daughter's friends was looking for a missing person," Mr. Bailey said. "The truth is…I was only willing to help when the friend did some errands for me," he said sheepishly. "But the one thing the kid couldn't get was those boots," Mr. Bailey said. To his shock, Big Bob got back into the man's face.
"Did you steal the boots from my daughter?!" Big Bob said furiously, grabbing the man by his coat. "Because if you did-,"
"Bob stop!" Helga said. Big Bob let the man go, but still continued to scowl at him. "I gave him the boots so he would help Arnold." Helga flinched when she saw Miriam giving her a sad look.
"Not only that, she spent the whole night helping me find the missing person," Mr. Bailey said. He began rubbing the back of his neck. "The truth is…I felt kind of bad about this. So I told my wife and daughter about what your daughter did, and they agreed that you deserved to have them more."
"Really?" Helga asked with disbelief.
"Yes," Mr. Bailey said, a proud smile forming on his normally dour face. "I want to say Mr. and Mrs. Pataki that you've raised a good kid. Happy Holidays." Mr. Bailey turned around, and walked back to the snowy streets.
Helga noticed that her family was staring at her and again felt uncomfortable.
"Helga, did you really give away these boots?" Miriam asked with concern. Helga stared at the floor in shame. She felt her head being raised. She thought she would be looking at disappointment, but instead it was…pride.
"Helga, I'm so proud of you," Miriam said, motherly joy in her voice, before giving Helga a warm hug.
"Me, too baby sister," Olga said, joining in on the hug. Big Bob didn't say anything, but instead gave Helga a pat on shoulder.
"Good job kid," he said with a small smile.
"You're not upset?" Helga asked her mother in a heavy voice, breaking from the hug. "You told me you stood in line for hours."
"Honey," Miriam said, a reassuring smile on her face. "What makes me happy isn't you wearing some fancy boots. The best gift of all is you becoming a wonderful person." She looked at Big Bob. "Bob?"
"Today, the kid can decide where we can go out to eat and what movie we'll see," Big Bob said, looking at her with a proud smile. Helga looked at her family. Helga wasn't naïve enough to believe their issues were going to be resolved, for one day, they were looking at her with joy.
To her surprise, Helga found she was smiling at them too. That was a better present than all of the Nancy Spumoni boots in the world.
Watching the episode, I really felt bad for Helga. She gave away the one gift she wanted the most, knowing she wouldn't be thanked for it. I felt that like Arnold, she deserved really deserved a miracle. So I gave her the gift of her family appreciating her.
Happy Holidays everybody!