Part 1 is here.
“So what was I to say? I looked at Beulah. I swallowed hard and tried to smile, (ever try to do both of those at once?) and I said, ‘Thank you, Beulie (That’s what I called her back then, “Beulie”.) I can tell you put a lot of yourself into this!’
“Well, we had opened all of our presents, so we all went outside to play. Pretty soon, every kid in the neighborhood was in our back yard. We had a hill that ran down into the edge of the forest, which was perfect for sledding! So, whenever we got a good snow, everybody came to our house and brought sleds, toboggans, old tires – whatever they could find – and went whooshing down our hill.
“After a while, you get tired of lugging your sled back up the hill. So we started playing hide-and-seek in the woods. I had just snowed, so everything was white and black and shades of gray. I was wearing my brand new amazing, fantastic, stupendously ugly Christmas sweater. How well do you think I did at hide-and-seek? Imagine a parrot playing hide-and-seek with a bunch of penguins! I was ‘it’ a lot! I was NOT having much fun. So when everyone else went inside for hot cocoa, I stayed out and went for a walk in the forest.
“It had started snowing again – great big flakes like silver dollars falling down through the tops of the trees. It was beautiful. And delicious! Better than ice cream. I walked all around the trees, looking up into the sky, trying to catch snowflakes in my mouth – they were too big to just catch on your tongue. I was doing that for a long time, until I cheered up and decided to go inside and have a cup of cocoa, myself. But when I looked around, I didn’t recognize anything. Just trees and trees and trees.
“I listened carefully to see if I could hear some of the kids playing outside again, but I couldn’t hear anything. It was quiet. Quiet in that way that only snow brings: like everything is wrapped up in cotton. I thought about calling for help, but I figured that if I couldn’t hear anybody, they were too far away to hear me.
“Just then, I got a brilliant idea! I would just follow my tracks in the snow until I found my way back home! That worked for a while, but it was snowing so hard, my footprints were filling up with snow. Pretty soon, I wasn’t sure if I was following my tracks or just low places in the ground -- and it was starting to get dark!
“I was tired and cold, so I sat down with my back up against a fir tree. And I fell asleep. But don’t worry. I didn’t freeze to death! My sister Beulie found me!
“She had gone out to look for me once it started getting dark. The moon was shining brightly, and the trees were casting their long shadows on the snow. ‘Everything was black or white,’ she said, ‘except for the Christmas present under the evergreen!’ In the moonlight, she could see all the colors of my amazing, fantastic, stupendously ugly Christmas sweater, and I looked just like a Christmas present to her!
“ ‘See!’ she said, ‘I TOLD you the best gifts were the ones you give!’
“After that, though, we made up a few new rules for playing hide-and-seek. Any time somebody was ‘it’ twice in a row, and they were gonna be ‘it’ again, they had to choose somebody else to be ‘it’ instead. AND if somebody was too good at hiding, and no one could ever find them, they had to trade sweaters with me!”