Friday, December 25
“Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Oh look, Santa came! Come on, everyone!”
Lily’s joyful voice echoed throughout the house, buoyed by Jack’s excited baying and the sounds of running feet. Schrodinger, who had been curled up at Molly’s feet, raised his head, sleep still in his eyes. They had come in fairly late the night before.
Then, as Molly watched, what Lily was shouting penetrated the sleep fog and Schrodinger said, Christmas! It’s Christmas! He jumped up, stepping on Drew and Molly in the process, and leapt from the bed, shouting at the top of his mental lungs, It’s Christmas!
“Yes, yes it is,” Drew said resignedly. “I don’t suppose I can go back to sleep yet, can I?”
“You can take a nap later,” Molly promised him. “You know as well as I do that they’ll be outside playing after dinner, and it will be quiet.”
“I’m holding you to that,” he grumbled, but Molly saw the twinkle in his eyes.
She laughed and got up, putting on her slippers before she padded down the stairs to start a pot of tea, and put the cinnamon rolls she’d set up from the freezer the night before into the oven. By the time the water was hot, everyone was up and in the living room, where the floor was all but gone under the massive mountain of presents.
“Good lord, where did all this come from?” Molly said, looking around.
“Santa, of course!” Lily told her, rolling her eyes. “Where else?”
“Well, some of it came from us too,” her mother said, laughing. “And don’t forget, Grandma and Grampa will be bringing more later.”
Lily, however, had realized there were more people than just her family in the room. “Grandma Ella!” she squealed excitedly, throwing herself in Pavel’s mother’s arms. “You came to Christmas!”
“And where else would I be?” Ella asked, hugging her. “Christmas is time for family, after all.”
I smell Pavel too! Jack said, wagging his tail enthusiastically and nearly taking out the tree. Schrodinger quickly shouldered his friend aside. And someone else…
“Yes, this is my mother, Brynna, and her husband Paul,” Ella said, and Lily’s eyes went wide. “Pavel’s grandmother. Mother, Paul, this is Molly’s niece Lily and her dog Jack.”
“Pavel has a grandma?” Lily said, astonished.
“Yes, he does,” Brynna said, smiling. “It’s very nice to meet you, Lily, Jack.”
When did you guys get here? Jack said, after politely sniffing Brynna and Paul’s hands.
“Late,” Molly told him, settling in on the couch. “You guys were already in bed.”
Someone knocked on the door, and Drew called, “Come in, it’s open!”
Doug and Tim appeared a few minutes later, with Ryan, and right after them, Mr and Mrs Barrett, then Peter and Donna Allard, with Lily’s best friend Zoey. To Jack’s and Schrodinger’s delight, Zoey had a wriggling puppy in her arms.
“Isn’t she adorable?” Zoey said, proudly showing off the puppy, who had a fuzzy coat and bright blue eyes. “Her name is Aurora.”
Aurora barked squeakily as Zoey set her down, her eyes on Jack, who leaned down to sniff her. Hello, Aurora, he said.
Big dog, Aurora said, and then sneezed. And cat!
My name is Schrodinger, the CrossCat said, coming over to her. Merry Christmas!
Christmas! Aurora agreed, and sneezed again.
“She’s from the Dorrs’ farm,” Donna told Molly. “They have a new breed that they’re trying out. It’s a cross between a Husky and a dog from one of the nearby Realms.”
Which Realm? Schrodinger asked, his eyes bright.
“I forget,” Donna admitted. “But apparently, these dogs are trackers, and are very smart. Aurora beelined for Zoey yesterday, and well, that was that.”
“So cool!” Lily said, reaching down to let Aurora sniff her hand. “Now we both have dogs!” She petted Aurora, then said to Zoey, “Come on, we need to sort the packages.”
“I’m going to get more tea,” Molly said, and got up.
Tim followed her into the kitchen to help, and as they assembled a tray, he said, “I got a phone call last night.”
“Oh?” Molly said noncommittally. “From who?”
“Not my parents,” Tim admitted. “I was hoping, but no go. But my sister called.” He smiled at Molly. “She loved the gingerbread house, and the pictures I sent of Ryan and Doug. We talked for a long time, and she’s thinking of coming out in the spring.”
“Oh, Tim, that’s wonderful!” Molly said, throwing her arms around him. “I’m so happy for you!”
He hugged her back. “Thanks to you. Without your support, I wouldn’t have even tried. Thank you, Molly, for accepting us.”
“Molly, if you don’t come back, we can’t open presents!” Lily called out, and Molly and Tim laughed.
“We’re coming, we’re coming!” Molly called back.
“You know, if we add any more people to this holiday next year, we’re going to need a bigger living room,” Drew said quietly, as Molly rejoined him on the couch.
“We could knock out the wall between here and the dining room,” she said, putting her head on his shoulder. “We don’t really need a dining room, do we?”
“Either that, or join the library to this room.”
“Oh, I like that idea,” Molly mused, watching Lily and Zoey hand out presents to people. Even Brynna and Paul had gifts in front of them. “More room for books that way.”
Aurora had fun playing with the bits of paper flying everywhere, chasing them through the air with baby growls. Jack and Schrodinger joined her, and Molly’s sides soon hurt from laughing. Finally, they got through all the presents and the kids were dispatched outside to play in the softly-falling snow while Molly got breakfast out.
As the adults were sitting down around the table, enjoying the cinnamon rolls and fresh cups of tea (and the quiet), Mrs. Barrett said teasingly, “So, Molly, when do we get another grandchild to add to the mayhem?”
“Do you need another one?” Molly teased back, grinning. “Don’t we have enough?”
“There’s never enough grandchildren,” Ella said, nodding at Mrs. Barrett. “Because you can spoil them.”
“As soon as we do, we’ll let you know,” Drew said. Then he looked at Molly. “Right?”
“Right,” she said. “Sorry, Mom, but nothing yet. We’re still enjoying just being married.”
“You know I’m just teasing,” Mrs. Barrett said. “You’ll do it when you’re ready.”
Molly was about to reply when there was another knock on the door. She looked at the clock, and frowned. Aunt Margie and Uncle Art had decided to go to her cousin Alicia’s for Christmas, so they weren’t expecting anyone else. “Who could that be?”
“I’ll go,” Drew said, and went out to the front door. Everyone in the kitchen looked at each other, waiting to hear what he said.
“Oh my! Merry Christmas!” he said. “Come in, come in!”
When he came back to the kitchen, to Molly’s surprise, Aunt Janice and Uncle Larry were with him. “You didn’t tell us you were actually coming! I thought you couldn’t make it?” she said, hopping up to hug the man and woman who had raised Drew after his parents died.
“It was a spur of the moment decision,” Aunt Janice admitted, hugging her, and then pulling her son Doug into an embrace. “I missed my family.” She hugged Tim tightly too. “All my boys were here, so I told Larry we needed to be here too. I’m glad he agreed with me.”
“Me too,” Doug said. “Me too.”
Merry Christmas, folks! I hope you enjoyed the Advent story this year!
- (advent) December 24
- (personal/writing/advent) New Year brings new opportunities