On Christmas morning, Sofia was the first to awaken. She leaped out of bed and put on her favorite party dress and princess tiara. Not only was today Christmas, but it was also her 13th birthday.
She started to race downstairs, then stopped and rubbed her eyes. At the foot of the stairs, near a big shiny pile of presents, stood a stranger.
“Hey!” cried Sofia. “You’re not Santa Claus!” She let out a high-pitched shriek.
“Shh!” The stranger put a finger to her grayish lips. “Of course I am not Santa Claus. I am…I am…an elf.” The stranger placed a blue envelope beside the pile of gifts, and then darted through the front door just before the rest of the family came to see what all the commotion was.
Naturally, no one believed that Sofia had seen an actual elf, though when she mentioned the stranger’s gray skin, Adriano shifted uncomfortably and looked away. Soon, the incident was forgotten, as friends and relatives began to arrive to celebrate the holiday with the Bastida-Ray family. The house was soon filled with laughter and good food. Then everyone took turns opening gift after gift, until the only gift left was the mysterious blue envelope.
“It’s from the elf!” Sofia cried, and began to open it, but Adriano intevened. With a grim expression, he opened the envelope and peered inside. Suddenly, all the color drained from his face.
“I can’t believe it!” he gasped.
“Who is it from?” asked Lily.
“It’s from — my mother.” Adriano looked into Lily’s stunned face. “She has given our family a surprise vacation. We’re going to France.”
“France! Wow!” Everyone began to talk at once. The Bastida-Ray kids jumped up and down with excitement. “Best Christmas gift ever!”
Then, just when the family was sure that they could not handle any more excitement, their little princess, Sofia, transformed into a stunning teenage girl.