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The streets

(The P.S. 118 bell rings, and all the kids run out cheering. Helga and Phoebe are walking on the sidewalk.)

Phoebe
Almost Christmas... I love the way the city's transformed by all the decorations. What do you most love about Christmas, Helga?
Helga
Ha! Are you kiddin'? The presents! I'm gonna make a hall this year!
Phoebe
But Helga, Christmas is all about giving and sharing! Family and friends! Holiday spirit!
Helga
Ho-oh, come off your high horse, sister! Christmas is all about presents! It's about getting as much stuff as you can possibly get! It's about money and flash! It's about shopping like a barbarian! It's about getting yours before the other guy gets his! It's about dropping hints, making lists, Christmas is about... (Helga stops, and looks at a glass display.) ...snow boots.
(Runs up to the display) Nancy Spumoni signature snow boots: Imported leather, bold emboss, hand-riveted, zigzag spread, steel toe. I gotta have 'em! I just gotta have them!
Rhonda
(snickers) You and every other girl in the city, Helga. The stores are practically sold out, there just aren't enough for everybody.
Helga
I'll get my boots, Rhondaloid. I've been dropping to my parents for weeks, and they better not blow it, or I'll show them some holiday spirit!

(Scene cuts to Arnold and Gerald coming out of a store.)

Arnold
So what did you get your dad?
Gerald
A nice plaid tie, not too loud.
Arnold
That's nice. What did you get Jamie O?
Gerald
A tie, red and blue.
Arnold
That's good. What did you get Timberly?
Gerald
A tie, with a little pink thing on it.
Arnold
Gerald, you can't give Timberly a tie for Christmas. She's a little four-year-old girl! What's she gonna wear a tie for?
Gerald
A formal occassion.
Arnold
You can't just give everyone a tie for Christmas.
Gerald
Why not?
Arnold
Because Christmas is special. It's about showing the people you're close to that you really care about them. When you give somebody a present, it should be unique.
Gerald
Well, maybe you're right. Maybe I give my grandpa the tie I got for Timberly, and I get her a toy or something.
Arnold
Now you're getting the Christmas spirit.
Gerald
Well, see ya.
Arnold
Where you going?
Gerald
I gotta go take your present back.
Arnold
(smiles) See you, Gerald.

(Arnold walks by Helga and Phoebe.)

Helga
Arnold. What a goof, what a sap, what a holiday fool, how I revile his very existence. And yet, I love him. His awkward gait, his half-lidded gaze, his brave, if misguided, concern for those less fortunate. I must find the perfect gift for my beloved, something big and flashy, something that'll impress him and make him pine for me the way I pine for him.

(A Green Meats truck passes, splashing Helga.)

Sunset Arms boarding house

(Mr. Hyunh arrives, as he hears a woman's gasp and a helicopter rotor. He enters.)

Grandma
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Grandpa
So that's all of us. It's time to pick your secret santa.
Oskar
Go ahead everybody, pick a random name from the bowl.

(Everyone takes a paper slip.)

Mr. Hyunh
(to Ernie) Don't tell anyone, but I got Oskar.
Ernie
I got Oskar too.
Grandpa
So did I.
Oskar
Eh heh heh heh! What a coincidence!
Ernie
Kokoshka, you bum! You wrote your name on all the slips!
Oskar
Okay, okay, it was a joke. A Christmas joke, eh.
Grandpa
A yuletide prankster, eh? Okay, we'll start over. Pookie, how about a little Christmas music?

(Grandma plays "Yankee Doodle Boy" as everyone takes a slip. Arnold gets Mr. Hyunh.)

Arnold
Mr. Hyunh...

Outside the boarding house

(Everyone is having a snowball fight.)

Gerald
Arnold, it's simple. Just get him a tie.
Arnold
Gerald, that's what everybody gets when you don't know what to get somebody.
Gerald
Exactly my point.
Arnold
I don't know, he always seems so sad at this time of year. I gotta figure something special, something that would cheer him up!
Gerald
Well, if you really wanna find out what the guy wants, why don't you just go talk to him?
Arnold
Yeah, I'll just go talk to him. Gather some clues, figure out what he wants! What a great plan, Gerald! (gets hit with a snowball)

Mr. Hyunh's room

Mr. Hyunh
Is there something special you want to talk with me about, Arnold?
Arnold
No, no. I just wanted to say hello, and, um... just see how you're doing.
Mr. Hyunh
Oh, I am fine, thank you. I wish I had some candy to offer you. I never have any candy around here.
Arnold
Oh, do you like candy, Mr. Hyunh?
Mr. Hyunh
No, no, no. Candy is bad for my stomach.
Arnold
Sure has been cold lately.
Mr. Hyunh
Yes, very cold. Make me shiver.
Arnold
I bet you could probably use a nice, warm sweater.
Mr. Hyunh
Noo! I gotta plenty o' sweater. (opens his closet) See? Red, blue, green, wool, cotton. Plenty o' sweater! You want one?
Arnold
Uh, no thanks. So, it's almost Christmas time.
Mr. Hyunh
Yes. This time of year, always make me remember. (Grabs a picture of a baby girl.)
Arnold
Remember what?
Mr. Hyunh
It was a long time ago, Arnold. A very complicated story.
Arnold
I'd like to hear it. Please tell me.

Mr. Hyunh's story

(A flashback of Mr. Hyunh's life and the events of his story, are shown while he narrates.)

Mr. Hyunh (narrating)
Many years ago, I lived in another country, far away. I was a young man with a family. A beautiful baby girl, I call her Mai. I was the luckiest man in the world.
At night, I used to dream about our future together. To watch Mai grow up and go to school. To see her be happy. But there was trouble in my country. There was a war in the North, and every day, the fighting was coming closer and closer. I knew this would not be a good place for my child to grow up. I could not keep her safe, maybe not even have enough food for her to eat. So I decided we must try to get out. We must try to find a better life.
Everyone was trying to get out. Everywhere, there was confusion. Somehow, I got through. The only way out of the city was by helicopter. There were too many people. I begged the soldier "Please! Please take us! Help us find a new life!", but he could not. He said there was only room for one of us.
Then, I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. I knew I had to do the best thing for Mai. I knew if I gave Mai to the soldier, they would take care of her. They would find a home for her, and then, as soon as I could, I would get out of the country and find her again. As the helicopter left, the soldier called out the name of a city.

Mr. Hyunh's room

Mr. Hyunh
This city. He said he would bring her here.
Arnold
You had to go to the soldier, you were saving her life.
Mr. Hyunh
Yes.
Arnold
You've never seen her since?
Mr. Hyunh
No. It took me twenty years until I could finally get out of the country. That's why I came to this city. I believe she is here somewhere, but I have not been able to find her. Sometimes it is so difficult, I almost give up hope. But I never stop thinking about her. I will never stop trying. I would do anything to see her again, to know that she is happy.

The streets

Gerald
You're crazy Arnold, really crazy. You oughta hang out with that Monkeyman guy, that's how crazy you are.
Arnold
What's so crazy about it? Mr. Hyunh only wants one thing, and that's to see his daughter. I know it's a long shot, but if I could find her and bring them together, it'd be the best Christmas gift I could give Mr. Hyunh!
Gerald
Arnold, it's the day before Christmas! There's millions of people in this city! It would take a miracle to find her.
Arnold
Maybe, but what better time for a miracle than Christmas? Isn't that what Christmas is really about?

Toy store

Helga
Presents, presents, presents! I've got to find the right present for Arnold! Hmm, a new kite, maybe? Nah, too cheap. Or a unicycle. No, not flashy enough. Whatever I get him has got to be big, really big! I know, a deluxe 240-piece train set! Complete with autumn foliage, collapsable bridge, and One-Legged Bob, the affable railroad tramp. ...No, too juvenile. Arnold's too mature for that. Think, Helga, think! What would Arnold want for Christmas!?

The street

Arnold
Here it is!
Gerald
Here what is?
Arnold
I've been on the phone all morning, calling every government agency in town, and everything led me to this place.
Gerald
Federal Office of Information?
Arnold
Somewhere in this building is the information we need to find Mr. Hyunh's daughter, all we gotta do is get it!

Federal Office of Information

(Arnold and Gerald enter the building, go down a hallway, and see a Christmas party.)

Gerald
I think we're too late, Arnold. It's already Christmas for these guys.
Arnold
Come on. There must be somebody still working here. (They find a room with the lights on.) Come on. (They go in.)

Mr. Bailey's office

Arnold
Excuse me? Mr. Bailey?
Mr. Bailey
What are you two kids doing here? Nobody's allowed in here. Can't you see I'm busy?
Arnold
We're looking for a missing person named Mai Hyunh. We think she lives somewhere in the city.
Mr. Bailey
So what do you want me to do about it?
Arnold
Uh, we thought you could find her for us. Please? She was separated from her father by a war. He's a really good guy! He's a friend of mine. I wanna bring them together for Christmas.
Gerald
And what a perfect Christmas present, don't you think, Mr. Bailey?
Mr. Bailey
Look, kid. Your story has touched me. Deeply. But to find your "Mai Hyunh" would be a huge job. It would take hours, maybe even days! I can't do it at a time like this. Now go on, there's a Christmas party down the hall. Go, have some eggnog. (phone rings)
Yeah? Oh, hi dear! (Arnold and Gerald start leaving sadly.) No, no, I didn't do the Christmas shopping yet. (Arnold overhears, makes Gerald return.) What do you expect, I got a ton of work here! Yes, yes, I-I got the list right here. Yes, I know it's Christmas Eve. (sighs) Okay, o-okay, look: I'll get it done somehow. I-I love you too, dear. Bye.
(groans, then turns around) What, you still here?
Arnold
I was just wondering, what if Gerald and me did your Christmas shopping for you?
Gerald
Huh?
Mr. Bailey
What, I'm gonna trust you kids with my Christmas shopping?
Arnold
Yeah.
Gerald
Yeah!
Mr. Bailey
Right, I'm gonna give 300 bucks to a couple of nine-year-old kids.
Arnold
How else are you gonna get it done on time? (Arnold approaches Mr. Bailey) Mister, I'd do anything to get Mr. Hyunh and his daughter together. I'll do your shopping, you can trust me. I'll come back, no matter what.
Mr. Bailey
...Okay, you got yourself a deal. I hate shopping anyway, plus I'm desperate. Be back here by closing time with the stuff on the list, and I mean ALL the stuff, and then I'll try running a search on your Mai Hyunh. (Arnold and Mr. Bailey shake hands). Well, what are you waiting for? It's the last shopping day before Christmas! Shoo! (sighs, groans)

Outside the government building

Arnold
Right, now all we gotta do is buy this stuff, and then Mr. Bailey will find Mai, and Mr. Hyunh will have the best Christmas ever!

Budnick's department store

Helga
(grabs a skateboard) This is it, the perfect flashy present to impress Arnold, at last!
Stinky
That sure is a keen skateboard, Helga. I should know, on account Arnold got one just like it. His is bare potoo. (Helga groans, gives Stinky the skateboard) Bye, Helga. Hope your Christmas doesn't bite.

(Arnold and Gerald are shown buying stuff in that same store. They then go around the city buying what the list says. They sit on a bench outside.)

Arnold
Only one more item, Gerald: Official Nancy Spumoni snow boots.

Another store

Helga
I have found it! The Frozen Tundra Death Warrior 7000, the jewel in the crown of videogames: flashy, expensive, perfect for my beloved. (sighs) Arnold will be overwhelmed; on Christmas morn, he will unwrap my gift, his little heart will fill with joy, his little eyes will find the attached tag: "To Arnold, from Helga", and his uniquely football-shaped head will fill with thoughts about me, Helga Pataki, and perhaps, then those same thoughts will lead him to feel

the same admiration and, dare I say it, love for me that I have so long and secretly harbored for him! (sighs) This, truly must be the meaning of Christmas. (Helga turns around and sees Arnold and Gerald approaching. She hides the game behind her.)

Arnold
Oh, uh, hi Helga.
Helga
So, Football Head and Tall Hair Boy, what a last-minute Christmas shopping I see.
Arnold
Yeah, what are you getting? (Helga pulls out the game.)
Gerald
Hmm, Frozen Tundra Death Warrior 7000.
Helga
That's right. I guess if somebody got a present like that, they'd be pretty impressed by whoever gave it to them, don't you think?
Gerald
Well, I don't know, Helga. Basically, it's kind of an expensive flashy gift, that isn't really personal, and doesn't necessarily express any real feeling or understanding of the person you might be giving it to. No offense, Helga.
Arnold
Gerald, we better get going. Merry Christmas, Helga!
Helga
(Angrily throws the game into a shopping cart, and sees Mr. Bailey's list, which Arnold dropped.) Nancy Spumoni snow boots? (She follows them.)
Arnold
Excuse me, sir.
Clerk
Yes?
Arnold
I need a pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots.
Clerk
Could you wait just a minute?
Arnold
Sure. (Clerk walks away) See, this is gonna be easy! (Clerk returns, with two more employees.)
Clerk
Go ahead kid, tell us what you want.
Arnold
A pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots. (The clerks begin laughing.) I don't get it, what's so funny?
Clerk
We've been sold out of those boots for a month! But in a-in all seriousness, if you wanna put your name on a waiting list, I could get ya a pair by oh, say, the Fourth of July! (They laugh again.)
Other Clerk
Fourth of July!
Arnold
There's gotta be a pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots out there somewhere! (Helga witnesses all of this.)

The streets

(Arnold and Gerald take the subway and go to several stores, only to find clerks laughing at them. The clock tower eventually sounds.)

Arnold
Oh, no. The government office is gonna close. We're outta time!
Gerald
Come on, Arnold. Let's just go back and tell the guy we just can't find the boots.
Arnold
Ughh... I can't believe there isn't one pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots left in this whole city.

Mr. Bailey's office

Mr. Bailey
No snow boots? Look kid, we made a deal. You get everything on the list, and then I find your missing person!
Arnold
But we tried, we looked everywhere!
Gerald
We must've looked in over a hundred shoe stores.
Mr. Bailey
Listen, boys. My wife specifically told me to get Nancy Spumoni snow boots for our daughter. I gotta have those snow boots! (hits his desk) No snow boots, no deal!
(Arnold and Gerald leave sadly)
Yeah? Okay, look--

Outside the government building

Arnold
I just can't believe after all this, I blew it, Gerald. (Helga is overhearing behind a tree. Arnold and Gerald sit on a bench.) All I had to bring a pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots to Mr. Bailey, at that crazy Federal Office of Information, and he'd find Mr. Hyunh's daughter. But it's "no snow boots, no deal". (sighs) Well, thanks for sticking with me like a true friend, Gerald. I needed a miracle, I guess. I just couldn't get one.
Gerald
Hey, Arnold. You did alright man. You tried harder than anyone else I know. All for Mr. Hyunh, a guy who's alone in this country. The stuff you did is more important than a bunch of presents. It's more important that some dumb snow boots. What you did... well, that's what Christmas is all about, Arnold.
Arnold
Thanks, Gerald. I just wish I could've put Mr. Hyunh and his daughter together for Christmas.

(Arnold and Gerald get up to take the bus, while Helga comes out of hiding and looks at the list.)

The Patakis' house

(Olga is playing the piano, while Big Bob and Miriam sing "Jingle Bells".)

Big Bob and Miriam (singing)
Oh! what fun it is to ride!
In a one-horse open sleigh!

(Bob and Miriam laugh, as Helga sits on the couch.)

Big Bob
Oh, give me another eggnog.
Miriam
Helga! Where have you been all day?
Helga
Out, Miriam.
Miriam
Honey, you look depressed. Why don't you open one of your presents now?
(Helga opens the box.) Merry X-Mas!
Helga
Oh my gosh! Nancy Spumoni signature snow boots! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!
Miriam
I stood in line for eighteen hours to get these Helga, I swear they must be the last pair in the city.
Helga
Wow. Thanks Mom, I wanted these more than anything, anything in the whole wide world! I gotta try 'em out!
(Helga goes out with the snow boots and dances around, until Helga accidentally drops Mr. Bailey's list.)
Oh, criminy. Not another moral dilemma! (sigh) Okay, on the one hand, I've got what I wanted for Christmas. I'm happy, and that's really all that matters, right? But, on the other hand, I finally discovered the one perfect thing Arnold wants for Christmas, and through a truly bizarre quirk of fate, it's these same snow boots. I could give them up and give Arnold what he wants, but then I wouldn't have anything. And these snow boots are really boss! Ohh, what's the right thing to do?

Arnold's room

(Arnold is laying on this bed, defeated. He thinks back to Mr. Hyunh's story.)

Federal Office of Information, outside

Helga
Here they are, pal! One pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots! Now turn those lights back on, we've got a missing person to locate!
Mr. Bailey
Are you kiddin'? I'm going home, it's Christmas Eve for crying out loud!
Helga
Can't you see? It's not about snow boots, it's not about flashy, expensive presents, or getting yours before the other guy gets his! It's about showing people you really care about 'em! And most of all, it's about a funny little football-headed kid with a good heart but no sense of reality whose entire world feels at stake!
Mr. Bailey
(Gives Helga her box back, and grabs his bags.) Look kid, I appreciate your little holiday speech and all that , but it's late and I'm going home. Now.
Helga
(Looks at Mr. Bailey leaving.) For Pete's sake, are you that cold? Look into your heart, and we've got a choice here. Either you and I work all night to find a certain lost daughter, or you can leave now. But if you leave now, that little football-headed kid will never believe in miracles again.

(Mr. Bailey is about to leave on a cab, but thinks over Helga's words and has a change of heart.)

The boarding house, Christmas Day

(Kids are cheering and playing in the snow. Grandma lets Gerald in. Oskar and Grandpa laugh.)

Gerald
Merry Christmas man.
Arnold
Merry Christmas, Gerald.

(Both of them turn to look at Mr. Hyunh, who is staring at the fireplace. They look at each other sadly.)

Grandpa
Alright, this one's for Oskar.
Oskar
Eh heh heh heh! I'm so excited! I'm going to open my Christmas present now! Everybody look, what can it be?
(Pulls out a bag of coal.) Coal? It looks like a bag of coal. Who would give me a bag of coal on Christmas?
Ernie
Wasn't me.
Grandpa
Well, I guess that's everybody. Merry Christmas!
Ernie
Hey, woah, woah, wait a minute! What about Mr. Hyunh? He didn't get a present.
Grandpa
That's right. There should be a present for Mr. Hyunh here somewhere... (Arnold sulks) That's funny, there's nothing here for Mr. Hyunh!

(Miles and Stella parachute into the jungle, with Miles getting stuck in tree branches)

Mr. Hyunh
It's alright! I don't need a present! It's nothing!
Arnold
Wait! I have something to tell you. (The doorbell rings.)
Grandpa
Oh, now who could that be!? I'm coming, I'm coming! Lousy yuletide pranksters...

(Sad music plays, while Mr. Hyunh looks at the fireplace, and Arnold and Gerald look at him. The door is heard closing, and Grandpa brings Mai in.)

Mai
Ba... (Father...)
(Mr. Hyunh turns, and looks at Mai in shock.)
Father?
Mr. Hyunh
Mai? I can't believe it! (They hug, while Arnold is shocked and everyone else looks at their reunion.) Mai, is it really you? Look at you. Everyone, this is Mai, my daughter!
Mai
Hello everyone.
Arnold
Merry Christmas, Mr. Hyunh.
Mr. Hyunh
Mai. Trời, ba nhớ con qúa. (God, father missed you so much.)
Grandpa
Well, I guess Mr. Hyunh got his present after all! (to Grandma) And I thought she was a yuletide prankster.
Gerald
Well, I guess miracles can happen after all.
Arnold
Yeah, but... how did it happen, Gerald? I mean, it doesn't make sense.
Gerald
Don't try to make sense out of it, Arnold. A miracle's a miracle, and that's all there is to it. Maybe you got a... Christmas angel looking out for you or something.
Arnold
A Christmas angel? Yeah, maybe.

(Helga is outside the boarding house, standing in the snow.)

Helga
(whispering) Merry Christmas, Arnold.

(The episode fades to black.)

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