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Sandy Claus

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"I know we said we weren't going to buy presents for each other, but I made you something," Mallory said shyly, setting her backpack on the porch steps and rummaging around until she found a lumpy-looking package. The paper was covered with cartoonish snowmen throwing snowballs at each other.

Ben blushed and shoved his hands into his coat pockets. “You didn’t have to do that. I don’t have anything for you.”

“I know! I mean, I didn’t think you would have. We said we weren’t going to do anything. But Charlotte Johansson wanted to do a craft project the other day when I was sitting for her. I made this and thought you might like it.”

“What is it?” he asked.

Mallory shoved the package at him awkwardly. “Open it!”

Ben ripped off the paper. It was an old peanut butter jar filled with water. A small plastic Santa figure and some seashells were stuck upside down to the inside of the lid. “Um… thanks?”

“Turn it over and shake it.”

Ben shook the jar and laughed as sand swirled around. “It’s a snow globe?”

“A sand globe,” Mallory corrected. “I thought you might be missing Christmas back in Australia. Vanessa had brought home a plastic bag full of sand and shells from Sea City this summer and let me use some of them.”

“This is the nicest present anyone ever gave me,” Ben leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you.”

Mallory gave out a squeak of surprise. Now it was her turn to blush. “You’re welcome.”

“Speaking of the beach, it’s really cold out here.”

“Totally. Do you want to come in for some hot chocolate?”

“I’d like that,” Ben replied. The two bounded up the stairs and into the warmth of the Pike house. It wasn’t quite home, but he could get used to it.