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The kitchen was sparkling clean, it was snowing outside and Damien the Demon-Elf was gone. Lola was positively bouncing with excitement and it felt like Christmas stood a chance of being Christmassy at last.
Mum pulled the cake down from the back of a cupboard where it had been ‘maturing’ and carefully covered it in a blanket first of marzipan and then of snowy white icing. Once it was all smooth and perfect she stood it in the middle of the kitchen table and handed everyone a block of coloured icing. It was cake decorating time!
Lola was tasked with making different sized cubes of red and drawing ribbons and patterns on them with edible markers to make presents, Dad was using the left over white icing to make a polar bear, Mum was using yellow to make stars and James had the green to make trees. He’d watched a load of videos on the Internet on how to make really effective trees using a pair of scissors to snip out triangular branch shapes – it had looked dead simple but took him ages to perfect.
While they worked, the radio played carols in the background and Lola began to compose her letter to Santa out loud.
“Do you think I should tell him that his elf was really naughty and made me sad and scared?” she asked, plonking an enormous icing present right in the middle of the cake.
“No, Sweetheart. I think Santa knows – that’s why Damien’s gone away, he got called back to be told off. Let’s not think about him anymore, yeah?” Mum’s smile was strained and James couldn’t help but glance at the back door to make sure the elf hadn’t snuck back in and perched himself there again. Just the mention of it made him nervous now, he wished he had Lola’s ability to bounce back from it all – being seven had its perks.
The Christmas cake was perfect. Some of the presents were taller than the polar bear and most of the stars had failed to stay on the trees and lay wonkily on the cake like they’d fallen out of the sky, but it was festive and bright and they’d all made it together. James was particularly proud of his trees which he’d dusted with icing sugar as a finishing touch to make them look snowy.
Dad took a photograph of them all stood together round the cake, using his usual trick of balancing the camera on the kitchen worktop and moaning the whole time that Santa needed to buy him a tripod for Christmas. Lola sternly reminded him that he never wrote to Santa, so how could he possibly expect Santa to know what to bring?
Nobody noticed Damien the elf, sat on the top of a kitchen cabinet behind them holding up a note that said in big, red letters:
I’M STILL WATCHING…