A couple of days before Christmas, Melinda gets their Christmas tree out of the basement and sets it up.
Christmas, she thinks, isn't Christmas without at least one little kid around. Too bad there's no rent-a-kid store.
Christmas hasn't been the same since Melinda told her parents she knew the truth about Santa Clause.
Melinda thinks she's the only reason her parents are still together. She's pretty sure she isn't the kind of kid they want, though. She doesn't have any great qualities.
She's actually just like her parents, a regular person with lots of "secrets and lies" (33.3). She wishes her family would just admit that they aren't a success. They could sell the house, divide the money between them and live separate lives.
Oh, the Christmas spirit.
After calling Heather and learning that she's out shopping, Melinda goes out in the backyard. It's really beautiful out here because it's snowing.
Melinda gets some holly branches, takes them back in the house, and uses them to decorate the mantle. The holly smells good.
On Christmas day, Melinda and her family all get up around 12pm and open presents.
Among other gifts, Melinda gets a sketch pad and some charcoal pencils. Her parents have noticed her interest in drawing. She almost tells them her secret at this moment.
Realizing that her parents have actually noticed that she's been drawing almost makes her cry. Her parents are watching her, trying to tell if she likes the gift.
She didn't tell them her secret before, because they weren't home when she came back after the party. By the time they got home, Melinda had showered and was in bed.
Her parents came home separately that night and at different times. Melinda wonders where they were and what they were doing. She has a pretty good idea.
She just doesn't know how to begin telling them what happened that night.
Mom and Dad clean up the wrapping paper and then leave the room.
Melinda is still sitting there, holding the sketch pad and charcoals. She's missed her chance to thank them for the gift.