Young shopper discovers surprise in snow globe

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Editor’s note: This is the first chapter of the 12-part holiday tale “The Snow Elf,” running daily through Christmas morning. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to their children.

­CHAPTER 1

“Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.” Anna Berry furrowed her brow as she counted out the stacks of coins next to the empty pink piggy bank. “Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one.”

She grinned and looked up, swiping brown bangs out of her eyes. “Twelve dollars and 31 cents. Can I get lots of good presents with 12 dollars and 31 cents, Alex?”

Her big brother snorted. “Don’t be silly, that’s hardly anything.”

Anna’s face fell, and Alex immediately felt bad. For weeks, Anna had been saving her allowance and sticking any loose change she found into her piggy bank. She was determined to buy Christmas presents this year using her very own money.

“Well,” he said slowly, “it’s not much, but I bet if we go to Second Chance, we can find some good stuff for $12.”

“And thirty-one cents,” Anna added, smiling brightly. She hopped up and down. “Can we go right now, Alex? Please, please, pleeeease?”

Alex sighed and set down his video game controller; it was impossible to say no when his little sister was looking at him with her best puppy-dog eyes. “Sure, Anna Banana. Let’s go.”

She practically bounced with excitement as she scooped her money into her small, sparkly pink purse. The entire drive to the thrift store, she opened and closed the zipper, double and triple and quadruple checking that her money was all there.

When Anna and Alex pushed open the doors to the Second Chance Thrift Shop, Anna paused to take it all in. While some people might see piles and racks of junk that no one wanted, she saw wonderful treasures everywhere she looked.

Anna dove right in, digging through the shelves and racks, making Alex promise not to look so his gift would be a surprise. One by one, she managed to find the perfect present for everyone on her list: a blue checkered necktie for her dad; a shiny glass angel figurine to add to her mom’s collection; a ruffled apron for her grandma; and a vintage superhero T-shirt for Alex.

As she carefully added up the total, she realized she still had some money left over. She wandered over to the toy section, hoping to find something fun for herself. But all the toys she liked cost more than she had left, so with a sigh she clutched her basket of gifts and headed to the checkout counter.

Something sparkly caught her eye. A small round snow globe sat on the edge of a shelf, right at her level, and she could have sworn it hadn’t been there just a moment ago. She picked it up and shook it, watching the glittering silver flakes inside drift down to surround a snow-covered village. It was really pretty, and she had just enough money left over to buy it for herself.

Then, something inside moved. She peered closer with a frown, then gasped and almost dropped the snow globe.

Inside the snow globe stood a tiny little elf figure, right in between the post office and a bakery. His red and white striped jacket and green tights were bright against the white snow. When he noticed her noticing him, he waved his arms over his head and began jumping up and down.

“The Snow Elf” continues tomorrow with Chapter 2.

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