When the letter carrier rang the doorbell, Leo was startled for a moment. But it was nothing out of the ordinary, just a few more parcels being delivered.
Leo’s father acted a little strangely with one of them. He grabbed it quickly and tried to hide it under his sweater. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him and then climbed down the cellar stairs to the hobby room.
“Funny,” thought Leo. “The fact that I’m watching him doesn’t seem to bother him at all. So it’s probably not a secret that concerns me. I think I’ll go after him.”
He sauntered after his father on soft velvety paws and peered around the corner.
INFOHere you will find a great collection of Christmas stories for kids and adults.
Leo saw his father open an old suitcase, stow the parcel inside, and then go back upstairs. Then he began opening the other parcels as if nothing had happened.
There were some clothes, a new coffee machine and all sorts of other stuff in the other parcels. Leo played with the empty boxes.
First he played hide-and-seek and he then tried to stack them on top of each other until they fell over with a crash. It was fun for a while, but when it got boring, Leo climbed onto his beloved windowsill.
He liked it when it got colder outside. He liked watching the first snowflakes fall gently to the ground and that it becomes more and more cozy inside.
Plus, because it was getting dark earlier and earlier, people had put up fairy lights on their terraces and trees and there were sparkles and twinkles everywhere. Leo really liked that.
After all the parcels were opened and the wrapping disposed of, Leo’s parents came to the living room. They sat on the couch by candlelight and muted music and drank a delicious-smelling tea.
“I think I might join them,” thought Leo. “There’s a bit of space in between them.”
He jumped off the windowsill and headed towards his father when he suddenly remembered his mysterious behaviour from earlier. What was that parcel in the old suitcase about?
Leo’s curiosity got the better of him and so he crept quietly down stairs instead.
“Meow, it’s dark down here. Not that I’m afraid. But maybe I should come back tomorrow in the daylight. My parents won’t be here then, so won’t have to sneak around either.”
He went back upstairs and snuggled up comfortably between his parents.
“Leo! Isn’t it wonderful?” said his mother. “You’re probably already looking forward to the beautiful Advent season, aren’t you? We can enjoy all the goodies we don’t get during the rest of the year. Why don’t we cook a feast on Sunday, the first day of Advent?”
“Hmm… how about a delicious duck with red cabbage and dumplings,” said Leo’s father. “Then the traditional Christmas goose will be perfect for Christmas day. Our guests always look forward to it. What do you think, Leo?”
“Meow,” Leo agreed, licking his lips at the idea of a festive meal and continuing to let himself be cuddled.
This idyll was abruptly disturbed when Leo’s father’s phone rang. He got up and walked into the hall where they could only hear bits of conversation. And only very quietly at that.
“Yes, yes…it arrived and…I don’t know how to pack everything…no one is supposed to… hmm…I haven’t got everything…I’ve got myself into a mess! I should have done it sooner… time is running out… well… it’ll be fine… it was a good idea of yours… yes… I promise, I’ll do it… and thanks for sending it.”
And then the conversation was over and Leo’s father rejoined them.
“Who was that?” asked Leo’s mother.
“Oh!” Leo’s father looked uncomfortable. “Just… uh… a colleague, about… uh… the presentation tomorrow….And they said to tell you happy holidays!”
“That’s nice!” said the woman and continued to leaf through her magazine, completely unphased.
“Oh look!” she said and pointed to an Advent wreath in her magazine. “Isn’t that beautiful?”
“Yes,” the man replied somewhat absently.
“I think I’ll use it as inspiration for our Advent wreath this year,” she said. “It will look great on our table. I’m already looking forward to the scent of pine and the candles. Advent is the best time of the festive season!
Leo looked from one of his parents to the other. “Meow… something’s not right here,” he thought. “A new mystery…Meow!”
The next day, when the cat was home alone, he ran to the old suitcase in the cellar.
“I hope it isn’t locked!” he thought. But it was locked with a combination lock. “I’ll just turn it at random.”
Leo pushed on the lock like he had seen his parents do before. Only the lock always popped open immediately for them. He turned the dial in all directions, back and forth, but nothing worked. Annoyed, but all the more curious, he trotted upstairs.
When everyone was home that evening, Leo’s father said: “I’ve had quite a day! I think I’ll relax a bit and unpack my new tools in the hobby room. That will take my mind off things.”
He made his way to the cellar. That was Leo’s cue. He followed him inconspicuously.
When he reached the suitcase, the man turned the lock for a moment and the lid popped open. Something was bothering him because he was talking to himself.
“Where am I supposed to get 24 surprises on such short notice?” he said. “She thought this would be such a good idea, my colleague… said that everyone would be thrilled to have a home-made Advent calendar and that it would be really easy to come up with something nice to put in it. But there’s so little time. Well, it doesn’t need to be ready until the day after tomorrow.”
He looked at the cat. “Oh Leo, sometimes I’d like to swap places with you…”
Leo meowed. “What is he talking about?” he wondered. He jumped up onto the workbench and looked into the suitcase. He saw lots of small packages, each a different size and with a little door to open. There was also a number on each one.
The man built a pyramid-shaped house out of sturdy cardboard. Then he placed each package inside so it could be pulled out like a drawer.
It didn’t look easy. Several packages didn’t quite fit and he had to make adjustments.
“It’s not that difficult to assemble, but finding the right things for each compartment… that’s going to be a challenge,” he said.
When he was done, he inspected the house from all sides.
“Look Leo, this little door is already done…” he said. “It turned out quite nicely, didn’t it?”
Leo felt like this was a call to action.
“It won’t be that difficult to fill this Advent calendar,” he thought. “What’s he worrying about? I’ll help him. Meow!”
The assembled Advent calendar no longer fit back into the suitcase. Leo’s father covered it with a large blanket and tucked it away in a corner.
“There’s still time,” he assured himself. Then they both went upstairs to the cozy living room, where it smelled of delicious vanilla cookies.
The next morning, Leo’s father went back downstairs. He was wearing workout clothing to make it look like he was going to do some exercise. Leo followed him. Leo’s father got back to work filling the Advent calendar. Little by little, sweets in silver paper, small surprises with bows and other things disappeared into the compartments.
“Well, that’s not bad,” he said. He left the doors open that still needed to be filled and went back upstairs.
It all took far too long for Leo.
“It can be done much quicker,” he thought. “I’ll take over. Besides, I can fit a lot more in there.” When his parents left the house to go shopping, he started to look around the house for suitable things.
He found a beautiful pearl necklace on the dresser. He ran downstairs, put it in one of the compartments and closed it with his paw.
Then he ran back upstairs.
“How about these new red socks!” he thought, dashing downstairs again to fill another compartment.
Next he tried a cozy scarf, but it was too big for any of the compartments.
Then, he saw the plate of dried fruit and nuts. He grabbed some and filled two more compartments in the Advent calendar.
“Hey, this is so much fun!” he thought. “What else do my parents like?”
Then he saw the computer mouse on the table. “They play with that quite often.” And in a flash, it was stowed away too.
He added a silk scarf from the wardrobe, a cloth bag for shopping, and a charging cable. Leo had noticed that people often used these things. He knew it was going to be a big surprise when they found it in the calendar.
He was delighted to have found such great things that he was sure his parents would be happy about. He used his paw to check again that all the little doors were properly closed. He carefully left five compartments open so his father wouldn’t notice he had helped.
On the first day of Advent, after a hearty breakfast, Leo’s parents lit the first candle on the Advent wreath. He was anxious for the calendar to make an appearance.
Finally, his father brought it up from the cellar and placed it on the mantelpiece.
Leo’s mother was thrilled. “And you made it yourself?” she exclaimed. “What a lovely surprise!”
Leo meowed and thought, “Well, not quite all by himself!”
She opened the first door and pulled out a small porcelain figurine.
“Oh, she’s adorable! How beautiful!” she said. “But, wait, there’s something else in here.” And she pulled out a marble.
Leo waited eagerly each day for the moment when the next door would be opened. His parents were always surprised and often burst out laughing at what they found.
Leo’s father looked at Leo, winked and said, “We haven’t had such a lovely Advent in a long time.”
Leo was happy. He thought, “Meow, what would they do without me?”