There was a young teenage girl of thirteen years who had flaming red hair like a volcano, possessed rosy red cheeks like a tomato, and always painted her nails red like the shade of strawberries. She built castles in the air over the passion of colour red and always dressed in a red outfit. Her name was Ella, but people of her small mountainous town in the Alps nicknamed her “The Red Riding Hood.”
One might visualize the life of Red Riding Hood as bright and colourful as the red poppies scenting the air. However, our Red Riding Hood’s life had been burning with the hues of fire since she was born. Her parents faced a financial crisis in exporting apples and had to endure anxiety and stress, which reflected its stinking essence in the atmosphere. Little Ella grew up seeing her parents fight over minute things with each other. Her grandmother had not been keeping well and died when Ella was seven. She became crazy for attracting love and affection from the world, especially after her grandmother’s demise, as her grandmother was the only one in the world who spent time with Ella and nurtured her like a little red rose since she had been a tiny seed. Her parents rarely had time to think about Ella as they had been too engrossed in their problems. As a result, Ella became so hypnotized by the concept of love seeing how her peers in school shared such a strong relationship with their families, that she got fascinated by the colour red; the colour of love, and she started fantasizing about her life around this colour since the age of seven. She believed that she could successfully excavate love through the source of its colour; red.
Due to Ella’s obsession with the colour red, her school peers started mocking her and often laughed behind her back. Whenever her class teacher Mrs. Meeker asked any question in class, Ella always associated the colour red in all her answers.
For example, once Mrs. Meeker asked everyone, “What is the colour of your favourite animal?”
“Red,” chimed Ella.
Everyone looked at Ella and started giggling.
“Ah, red.” Mrs. Meeker asked curiously, “Which animal has the colour red, Ella?”
“Must be someone desiring love,” Ella mumbled innocently and off the class went laughing again like hooligans.
Ella was slowly wandering towards depression. Her life seemed miserable. Her parents worked hard all the time, be it any festival or holiday, and isolated her alone in the house. Until one fine Christmas Eve…
Ella was sketching a red velvet cheesecake while her parents were doing late-night shifts. She was about to complete the final touches when someone knocked on the door of her home. Ella got up cautiously and peered into the keyhole. What she saw stirred excitement in her – a Santa Claus of her age.
“Santa!” exclaimed Ella as she opened the door.
Santa replied, “Hey, I’m not Santa. I am a child dressing as Santa for a party. But my red jacket got torn, and everyone will make fun of me if I go wearing this. Since you are my age, do you have a red jacket I could use? I will give it back to you after the party.”
“Uhm,” Ella replied, “I have a red jacket, but it’s very dear to me. My grandma gave it to me on her deathbed. I can give it to you, but will you promise to return it after the party?”
“Yes, in two hours, I will give it back to you,” replied the kid Santa. “Meanwhile, may I leave this torn jacket at your house? I will take it back when I come to give yours back.”
Ella agreed and gave her jacket to the red Santa while taking his torn jacket. The night passed. Two hours turned into four. Her parents returned. It turned into midnight.
But the kid Santa never came.
Ella became disheartened and started weeping. Her mother scolded her, “That’s what you get for being generous in today’s world.”
The next day on Christmas, Ella’s mom shouted with excitement in the house.
“Ella,” she screamed at the top of her lungs, “Look at this.”
Ella came rushing and what she saw swelled tears in her eyes.
Her mom pulled out a red sweater with the name Ella printed on it.
“Mom,” Ella exclaimed, “This is the red sweater Granny promised to knit for me, but she died before that. Where did you find it?”
Her mom ushered in the torn pockets of the kid Santa’s red jacket. It unravelled like a hidden maze, and as her mom dived into it further, she found two letters attached with red ribbons. One was addressed to Ella, while the other had been addressed to her parents. Ella opened her letter with fidgety. The letter said:
Dearest Red Riding Hood,
I am Santa, indeed, from the North Pole. While delivering gifts, my jacket got torn, and I needed a new one. You helped me when I needed it. Now here is a gift your grandma in Heaven sent for you. You are loved, my child, by your grandma and everyone in this universe. I told about your kind act to Mrs. Clause and my army of reindeer and elves. They all got greatly moved, and Mrs. Clause would adore inviting you to our North Pole place for a delicious dinner prepared by her. Let me know your answer in response to this letter, and keep it outside under the flowerpot. I will collect it at night and then go ahead and finalize a date with you. Also, I would be honoured to have you as one of my helpers in distributing toys around the world for Christmas Eve next year. This is what you get for being generous in today’s world. Finally, remember to take your grandma’s beloved red jacket that I left under the flower pot because delivering gifts worldwide took a long time, and it was late.
Ella looked up excitedly and saw her parents in tears too. They hugged Ella and whispered in her ears, “We love you.”
The letter Santa had addressed to Ella’s parents was lying on the shelf. It said:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,
I am Santa from the North Pole. I know you both have been having a hard time with life, and it’s challenging to survive with financial problems. Struggles are a part of destiny, and everything takes time to build. We all encounter stress, but that does not mean we get frustrated all the time and stop paying attention to our loved ones. Ella needs your love; she is a bright child and would do wonders if you caress her with affection. Spending time with her would also make you both positive and help you perform better in all spheres of life. Neglect is not the answer to obstacles; the answer lies in encountering and overpowering them.