Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! The carol echoed through the busy department store with an energetic Kotoko singing along, a little loud and out of tune.
Her husband groaned. "Do you ALWAYS have to sing Christmas songs?"
"Of course!" was the enthusiastic reply. "You have to get into the Christmas SPIRIT, Irie-kun! This is going to be the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!"
Kotomi gurgled from her spot in Irie's arms, as if agreeing.
"Ok, I'm going to look for surprise presents for you and Kotomi-chan!" She bounded away, barely hearing Irie's reply of, "how can they be surprise gifts if you just told us about them? Sheesh. Baka."
Kotoko's dad was buying gift wrap for his present for the bouncy redhead, which was a scarf and pair of mittens because she always managed to lose them in the space of 2-3 days.
"Aihara-san," Irie said warmly, which made the man look up.
"Oh, hello, Naoki-kun." He was talking to the saleswoman. "Yeah, that blue wrap will be nice."
"Pardon me for saying this, Aihara-san, but Kotoko likes 'cute' gift-wrap with sparkles and teddy bears on them. So maybe that one?" Irie pointed to a gift wrap with bunnies on it.
"Wow, thank you, Naoki-kun! Yes, please, that one instead," he gestured to the salesman.
On Christmas Day, Aihara san gave his present to Kotoko.
"AWW THE GIFT WRAP IS SO ADORABLE! RIGHT IRIE KUN? RIGHT, KOTOMI CHAN?" She tickled the baby's chin. "Thank you so much, dad! I love it! It's so cute!" Kotoko traced the path of the hopping bunnies on the gift wrap with her finger.
She tore open the gift. "And look at this scarf! And mittens! I really needed these!" But, as expected, her attention veered back to the gift wrap.
"It's sooooooo adorable! Can I hang it on the wall?"
Grumbling, Irie tossed his present to Kotoko. It was five rolls of gift wrap, each with a different animal and different colored sparkles.
"IRIE-KUN THESE ARE SO KAWAIIIIIIIIIII!" She squealed, giving him a kiss on the cheek and was met with a brief smile.
Later, when Kotoko was busy showing her gift wrap rolls to Kotomi, who didn't seem to enjoy them as much as her mother did, Irie confided in Aihara, "The real gift is the necklace hidden in the gift wrap packages, but I think that she wouldn't care as much because she is so infatuated with the gift wrap." Irie gave one of his real grins.
"And you love her for it?" asked the father.
"And I love her for it." Irie's eyes crinkled in a rare display of happiness.