Saturday, December 24
“Where is everyone?” Molly asked, sticking her head out into the tea room. She had expected to see the children, Jack, and Schrodinger curled up in the beds next to the wood stove, but the tea room was empty except for Kiaya, who was writing, and Lucille and Stephen Dorr, who were reading to each other while she knit something.
Kiaya looked up and blinked. “Oh, the kids?” she said after a moment. “I don’t know, actually. They were here, and then…” She frowned. “Then they weren’t.”
“I’m sure they’re fine,” Molly said, trying to ignore the little thrill of fear that went down her spine. “Goldie’s not here either, so he must be with them.” She closed her eyes and thought, Schrodinger? Where are you?
Upstairs. His voice came back, louder than she was expecting. Why? What’s wrong?
Is everyone else with you?
Yes. His mental voice sounded confused. Do you need us to come down? Everyone was concentrating, and we didn’t want to be distracting. Goldie is with us.
Molly heaved a sigh of relief. “No,” she said out loud, so Kiaya could hear. “We just didn’t know where you all had gone.” Then she said to Kiaya, “They’re upstairs. I’ll go check on them now.”
She took a carafe of hot water with her, knowing that there were several people upstairs that might want refills on their tea. Her most popular tea bags she carried in the pocket of her sweater, but her gifts meant that if someone asked for something else, she could pull it magically to her from the pantry below.
Rounding the final corner into the main room, she saw that the children were all clustered around a chair in front of the fireplace. Seated in the chair was Pavel’s mother Ella, her dark hair wrapped in braids around her head, pale yarn in her lap that was rapidly becoming something lovely.
“Hello, Molly!” Ella said, as Molly came over to them. “Are you going to join us? The children are reading me stories.”
She had Schrodinger in her lap, along with the knitting, and Jack was lying on the hearthstone next to her chair. Lily was sitting in the chair next to her, with Gideon and Kaylee snuggled up on either side of Jack. It was a charming picture.
“I’d love to,” Molly said, sitting down next to Kaylee, who snuggled up to her. “What are we reading?”
After listening to “Twas the Night before Christmas,” Molly said, “Do you guys want to do the Advent castle now? It’s going to be time to close soon.”
As if her words had summoned her, Aunt Margie’s voice came over the loudspeakers. “Just a reminder, folks, we’re closing at noon today, which is in twenty minutes! DC and I are ready to check you out downstairs!”
“Let’s go. Come on, Grandma Ella!” Kaylee said, getting up and heading to the stairs, Gideon and Jack in hot pursuit.
Molly had left the castle out again, and so they gathered around the table, each looking for the number 24.
It’s on the smaller tower! Schrodinger said suddenly. Here!
He touched the side of the castle with one claw, where the 24 had twined around the corners of a window. The window opened to show a place that looked very much like the bookstore upstairs, except it went on forever, and in the center, with her paw holding open a large tome, was the Librarian.
She looked up at them, her green eyes calm and wise, and said Merry Christmas, children. I hope you have a wonderful night. Ella has your gifts for you. And then the window closed.
They all turned to Ella, who laughed. “I’m so happy to be part of this!” she said, opening her large knitting bag and pulling out wrapped gifts. “And this is my favorite part!”
Wrapping paper went everywhere as they tore into the gifts. It was, as Molly knew it would be, books.
Ella and Brynna had introduced them to the custom of giving books on Christmas Eve last year, and Molly had loved including it in their family traditions. Now, as she watched them exclaim over the new books, Molly realized how happy she was that the next generation clearly loved books as much as she and Aunt Margie did.
“Thank you!” Kaylee said, throwing her arms around Ella. “I love it!” Her book had ponies and rainbows on it, and Molly realized it was one of her favorite things: a coloring book.
Gideon also had a coloring book, filled with all sorts of odd creatures. Lily’s book was a leather-bound story book that she was already reading the beginning of.
Schrodinger’s book was one of maps, and he was thrilled beyond words. Jack’s book was detective stories, and he was settled in beside Lily, already reading.
>Activity: Exchange books! This is an Icelandic tradition that I love. Take this chance to give someone a copy of YOUR favorite book, and spread the love!
- (advent) Day 23 – The nutcracker dances…
- (advent) Day 25 – Merry Christmas!