It was already eleven when Lock left the store. It was Christmas eve and he had to attend to several customers with their Christmas shopping that day. The store resembled an adorable shop from toy-land with strings of lights stretching along the walls and over the windows. They had a huge Christmas tree set right in the middle of the floor. It was grander than the last year's. Lock, the other assistants and the store-owner had decorated it together. At night, it looked so stunning through the windows that passers-by would actually come in to admire it.
When Lock stepped out in the December chill, he noticed the winter this year was less harsh. But it was cold enough to be a good company for his hot coffee at home. He was going to brew a steaming cup of coffee for himself, he had decided. The Christmas eve dinner at the store was filling; the store-owner had a good taste in wine.
That day Lock had bought a shiny Christmas tree star to place atop his Christmas tree. He was excited about it and he couldn't wait to show it to Lia. She would certainly love it. Their old one had to be powered by electricity and did not look much appealing. He was sure this one would light up the entire room on its own... and also Lia's eyes.
The living room looked warm in the glow of the Christmas tree. Lia had decorated the tree beautifully with colourful Christmas balls, light bulbs and tiny figurines of reindeer and a portly Santa Claus in a sledge. When Lock placed the new star at the top of the tree, it seemed as if Santa Claus with his entourage of reindeer were flying up towards it. He placed his gifts under the tree beside Lia's and looked around the room. He loved his home.
Lia had already dozed off in the bedroom while reading a book. Lock silently settled on the couch feeling the warm china cup and relishing the silent glow of the only ornament in the room: the Christmas tree. The warmth of the first draught that spread through his body was what he had longed for while walking back home.
Lia appeared at the living-room door.
'Hey, did I wake you up?' asked Lock.
'No, I was waiting for you. You seem to have had a long day.'
He nodded. Lia snuggled up with him in his arms.
'Try the coffee,' Lock offered. 'The beans are some new arrivals of the season at the store.'
'Mmm!' said Lia as she took a sip. 'They are perfectly roasted.'
A beep from his wristwatch told them it was midnight. It was Christmas. The glow of the new star now seemed magically radiant. He realised that it was the warmth of Lia against him that he had actually yearned for while walking back home.
'Happy Christmas, Lock,' whispered Lia, as she rested her head on his shoulders.
He lovingly kissed her hair, 'Happy Christmas, dearest.'