Empath woke up on December 24 to a bright and snowy Christmas Eve morning. He was watching as the village was making final preparations for Christmas Day, one of his favorite days of the year. He knew that that day was a custom mostly celebrated by humans that coincided with the Smurfs' original celebration of the Winter Solstice, which was a few days earlier. However, that day seemed special to humans because it was the day that legends say the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ, was born in a stable in Bethlehem, as his fellow Smurf Tapper had explained to him. This Savior had grown up to do all sorts of miracles -- healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding a few thousand people with only a few loaves and some fish -- that rivaled and even surpassed what any wizard could do. However, His greatest miracle was being able to raise Himself from the dead after three days of being laid in a tomb when He was crucified for the sins of mankind. And one of His promises, which made Tapper sound very excited every time he spoke of it, is that He will return to set up His kingdom here on Earth when the gospel has been shared all around the world as a witness to all the nations.
Empath sighed as he watched from his doorstep all the activity going on, happy to know that this will be his first Christmas in the Smurf Village as a free Smurf. He couldn't think of a gift that was more worthy to be thankful for other than his freedom, where he no longer had to spend similar holidays being locked up in a place where it was all work and study with no time or place for any celebrations or feeling anything. Now that he thought of it, another gift he was thankful for was knowing who and what he truly is, after years of being told that he was a Psyche.
Just then, Smurfette showed up at Empath's door. "Morning, Empath," she greeted as she gave him a kiss.
"Salutations, Smurfette," Empath greeted back. "That is an unusual way to greet your fellow Smurf in the morning, particularly this smurf."
Smurfette giggled. "You're smurfing under the mistletoe, silly!" She pointed to the sprig of mistletoe hanging over Empath's door. "It's tradition that whoever smurfs under the mistletoe around this time of year must smurf a kiss by someone who loves him."
Empath looked at Smurfette suspiciously. "This smurf can only wonder which Smurf put the mistletoe there in the first place!"
"Just you wait until you smurf what I have smurfed you for Christmas, Empath!" Smurfette said slyly.
"This smurf only hopes that it's in this smurf's size, Smurfette," Empath responded playfully.
Then the scent of something delicious tickled their noses. "It smells like Greedy is making up his Christmas gingerbread Smurf cookies," Empath noted.
"Mmmm, how smurfy they must be," Smurfette said. "Let's go and smurf if Greedy will smurf us a sample!"
"Hold on, Smurfette," Empath said as Smurfette pulled on his arm to go with her to Greedy's kitchen. "Don't you think it would ruin Christmas Day if you have one of Greedy's cookies now?"
"And let's not forget Tapper's eggnog with a little bit of sarsaparilla in it," Smurfette added. "And a smurfing cup of hot chocolate with a minty smurf of a smurfberry candy cane. Something to smurf us up on a cold winter's smurf."
"Great Ancestors, Smurfette, you seem very excited about this holiday," Empath commented.
"How could I not be this excited about it, Empath?" Smurfette said. "It's only about the sixth Christmas that I have smurfed since I was made into a real Smurf by Papa Smurf. Moreover, how could you not be this excited about it? This is your first Christmas away from Psychelia, where you don't have to worry about smurfing back there ever again. You're with your friends and your family, and more importantly, you're with me, and I don't want you to ever smurf a Christmas apart from me. Isn't that worth being excited?"
"Now that you've put it that way, Smurfette, there's just not enough days in the year to celebrate those things," Empath said. "But this smurf will be happy for the day when you will decide which Smurf you're going to marry someday."
"Well, that will have to be a surprise, Empath, but for now I'm happy enough to be smurfing with you," Smurfette said. "By the way, do you have any idea of what Handy may be smurfing us for Christmas?"
"This smurf doesn't use his minds-eye to invade somebody's private thoughts without their permission or when such may be necessary, Smurfette, so this smurf actually doesn't know," Empath replied. "All this smurf knows is that it's something similar to what the human enchanter Homnibus has in his hovel, and that it's going to take some time to build it, so we won't be able to see it until sometime early next year."
"Hmmm," Smurfette said, feeling a little disappointed. "Well, whatever it is, I am sure it will be smurf waiting for."
Just then, Duncan McSmurf came passing by. "Merry Christmas, fellow Smurfs," he greeted. "Can't wait to smurf open your present from Smurfette now, eh?"
"Honestly, Duncan, all Smurfette gave this smurf this morning was a kiss under the mistletoe...an entirely innocent greeting at that," Empath said.
Duncan chuckled at Empath's response. "Oh, don't mind me and anyone else's imagination smurfing wild on a day like today, laddie. I can understand that this is your first year of Christmas with Smurfette, so naturally your fellow Smurfs are going to expect something a bit more smurfing on than just a harmless kiss from a pretty blue lassie like her."
"How I feel for Empath on this holiday season isn't for any other Smurf to know about, Duncan, but if you must know, we are just being good friends," Smurfette said.
"Aye, my lips are smurfed regarding your relationship to Empath, lassie," Duncan said. "However, if you want to share a friendly mistletoe kiss with your fellow Smurfsman, you know where I'll be waiting for you." With that, he headed off in the direction he was going to leave both Empath and Smurfette alone.
"Hmmm...the nerve of some Smurfs to think that I would just freely smurf my mistletoe kisses to about any Smurf on the block," Smurfette said, making it sound like she was slightly offended. "Just what kind of a Smurfette do those Smurfs think that I am, anyway?"
"This smurf does sense that the other Smurfs are rather jealous of the kind of kiss that you gave this smurf one time shortly after we drove Gargamel out of the forest forever, Smurfette," Empath said.
"Well, those Smurfs can keep dreaming that I will smurf them the same kind of special kiss, Empath," Smurfette said with a smirk on her face. "But if I find out that you're not being so nice this year, I'm going to have to ask Mr. Nicholas if he can smurf you a lump of coal to keep you warm next winter."
"So would that mean that this smurf gets no more special kisses from you?" Empath asked.
"I might end up smurfing my special kiss to Duncan, just to make you feel jealous, Empath," Smurfette said. "After all, he's the only Smurf in the village who has those smurfy sideburns that make him look so smurfy."
"This smurf competing against my own friend Duncan for Smurfette's heart," Empath mused as he continued to walk with Smurfette beside him. "Well, Smurfette, if he's the one who can make you completely happy, this smurf would want to make sure that your happiness is fulfilled."
Tapper was at the door of his tavern, sweeping away the snow from the walkway, when his fellow Smurf Duncan passed by him. "Smurf o' the morning to you, my fellow Duncan," he greeted. "A beautiful day that the Almighty has smurfed, which is worthy of rejoicing and being glad."
"That it is, my boy, that it is indeed," Duncan said. "So far it hasn't been so windy as to smurf a draft underneath my kilt to smurf even the bravest Smurfsman the icy chills upon his crown jewels."
"It helps to smurf you warm in the winter, my friend, so I have no complaints about your choice of dress," Tapper said.
"If only it was me with the sweet lassie Smurfette smurfing me warm all winter instead of Empath," Duncan said. "I just smurfed the two of them smurfing a kiss under the mistletoe outside the laddie's house a short while ago."
"Surely there's nothing wrong with Smurfette trying to be friendly with Empath during the holiday season when it's his first year smurfing it as a free Smurf away from Psychelia," Tapper said.
"But how long are the two of them going to smurf friends with each other?" Duncan asked. "The more I smurf them together, the more I think they're going to smurf the knot sooner or later."
"The Almighty knows what He's doing as far as Empath's relationship with Smurfette is concerned, my fellow Duncan," Tapper said. "If it's His desire that they should become a couple sometime soon, He'll smurf everything He can to bring it to pass."
"But what if this Almighty of yours doesn't want Empath and Smurfette to smurf together anytime soon, if even at all, perish the thought?" Duncan asked.
"I will leave worrying about their relationship in the Almighty's hands, for only He alone knows what tomorrow will smurf for any of us," Tapper said.
"It's just not fair that there's only one beautiful lassie like her for the hundred of us Smurfs to smurf in love with," Duncan said.
"I know how you feel, Duncan, I honestly do," Tapper said, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder to show empathy. "I can only pray to the Almighty that He will satisfy our hearts with the comfort of His eternal presence no matter what happens with our dear friend Smurfette."
At that point, Papa Smurf was busy in his laboratory talking to Brainy about one of his experiments when a Smurf was knocking on his door. The village leader opened it and found that it was Dreamy. "Good morning, Dreamy," he greeted. "What may I smurf you for?"
"Papa Smurf, I smurfed this excellent idea while I was smurfing last night," Dreamy started to explain, all excited. "You know how that human, Nicholas the toymaker, smurfs around on his sleigh with his smurf of eight reindeer on Christmas Eve smurfing gifts to all the people and children. Well, now that Empath is home, maybe we can smurf up our own sleigh and our own smurf of reindeer and smurf gifts to all our friends, like Homnibus, Sir Johan, Peewit, King Gerard, and Malchior. Wouldn't that be smurfy?"
"Dreamy, Dreamy, Dreamy, that idea is just too smurfy to work!" Brainy scolded. "It's too close to Christmas Day to smurf all that together, and besides that we smurfed most of our gifts for our fellow Smurfs, so how can we smurf gifts for our friends as well? Why don't you smurf back next year to present this idea to Papa Smurf when we actually have more time to smurf it?"
"Hold on, Brainy," Papa Smurf interrupted. "Although this idea may be too smurf to Christmas Day, I think that we may be able to smurf it off with every Smurf working together. Anyway, Christmas isn't all about what we smurf for ourselves, it's also about what we smurf for others, including the humans that we have been friends with since we first smurfed Johan and Peewit the time we were smurfing for the magic flute we had lost. Dreamy, we will smurf this idea of yours into motion!"
"Thank you, Papa Smurf," Dreamy said.
Brainy sighed. "If you smurf so, Papa Smurf, I will gladly smurf my advice on how we can smurf it."
Just then, Empath showed up in Papa Smurf's laboratory with Smurfette. "Salutations, Papa Smurf," Empath greeted. "What did Dreamy wanted to see you for?"
"Remember the human boy we had smurfed in the forest 60 years ago, Empath?" Papa Smurf asked.
"The boy named Nicholas, as this smurf can recall," Empath answered. "He thought that the Smurfs were a group of little blue elves as we were helping him find his way out of the forest to be reunited with his parents who were looking for him when he was lost."
"Well, that human boy is now a toymaker, and one of the things he smurfs around this time of year is to smurf toys to children on a wooden sleigh being smurfed by a smurf of eight reindeer," Papa Smurf said. "He smurfs no children of his own, but he smurfs children enough to smurf his trade without any thought of reward other than smurfing that children are happy during Christmas."
"And apparently he hasn't forgotten about Papa Smurf, for he smurfs this big red suit whenever he smurfs out on Christmas Eve to smurf out his presents with his smurf of flying reindeer..." Dreamy explained further.
"Flying reindeer?" Empath asked, sounding that he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"Actually, the reindeer didn't fly until we smurfed out that Baby Smurf had smurfed the reindeer to fly on that Christmas Eve when Nicholas was under the evil spell of Chlorhydris that we had to smurf him out of," Brainy interjected.
"Anyway, Dreamy had this suggestion that we should smurf up our own sleigh and smurf of reindeer that we should smurf into practice by Christmas Eve, and I would like to smurf it with the entire Smurf Village," Papa Smurf said.
"Oooh, that sounds like a smurfy idea, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said. "But who's going to smurf the part of Nicholas on his sleigh? And where are we going to smurf the reindeer for the sleigh?"
"If I undersmurf Dreamy's suggestion correctly, it would smurf to reason that Tailor Smurf would smurf up reindeer costumes for eight Smurfs to wear," Brainy answered. "And Empath would most likely be one of the reindeer since he can smurf the sleigh and the reindeer into the sky with his minds-eye. And as for the part of Nicholas, I believe Papa Smurf would be the best Smurf for that job."
"Thank you, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "I appreciate that you would smurf me suitable for the role of Nicholas, given the role that I smurf in the village with my little Smurfs."
"It's not just the qualities of your character that you smurf, Papa Smurf," Brainy said. "It's also that you resemble Nicholas, with the red suit, the white beard, and that stomach of yours!"
Papa Smurf didn't like hearing the "stomach of yours" part as the other Smurfs in the laboratory giggled. "Thank you again, Brainy!"
"So what's the plan, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked. "Are we actually going to put Dreamy's suggestion into practice?"
"I don't see why we wouldn't, Empath, even as smurf as we are to Christmas Day," Papa Smurf said. "It's more of a human custom as we have very few friends among humans that we can smurf our presents to, but that's part of what the holiday is about, and it's also part of what being a Smurf is all about. Have Harmony summon every Smurf around the speaking mushroom so I can smurf them what we're going to smurf, Empath. I want to get this smurfing right away."
"This smurf acknowledges, Papa Smurf," Empath said, sounding excited.