Wow! Christmas is the day after tomorrow! Hard to believe. This week, no– this month, . . . actually–this year have flown by. But much to my astonished delight, I actually have everything that I "needed" to do before Christmas crossed off my list. Yep, now I can go read. :) I love it when I get things done and can go read without feeling guilty. How about you? Are you ready for Christmas?
This is the last part of this story. I hope you enjoy it. I'd love to know what you think of it.
The walk home didn’t seem to take as long. The wind had picked up, and I pulled off my jacket to place over the child in John’s arms. As the light of my lantern fell on the boy’s face, I saw that he had fallen asleep. His dirty face was tear-stained and one arm was around the neck of his new friend.
When we stepped inside the house, Virginia, forgetful of her injured ankle, tried to stand up, holding out her arms for her young brother, but John said quickly, “Don’t get up, he’s all right.”
The little boy, roused from his sleep by the lights, wrapped his arms about his sister’s neck. “I tried to help you,” he sobbed, “but it wasn’t there!”
For several minutes we all stood around and watched. Then my wife motioned us to the dining room. “I’ve kept your supper hot,” she said. “The girls and I have already eaten.”
“Peter should eat too,” I said, glancing back into the living room where the reunited siblings continued to cling to each other.
Mary nodded. “I know, but I don’t think Virginia is going to let him go.”
“Let me try,” John said quietly.
I don’t know what he said, but within five minutes he was back with Peter and, after the two of them had washed their hands, they sat down together to eat.
Virginia wanted to return to their boarding house once Peter had eaten, but I shook my head. “No, the doctor said you weren’t to use that foot for a while, and I have a feeling that if you were to go home, you wouldn’t follow those orders.” The young woman colored and a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Now,” I continued, “we’ll bed Peter down on a cot in the boys’ room, and you can sleep in Dorothy’s room.”
“But I don’t want to put her out,” protested Virginia. “I can sleep on the couch. I don’t mind, really. The tree smells so lovely, and it’s decorated so nice . . .” her voice trailed off as her gaze rested on the tree.
“It’s not putting me out,” Dorothy said. “I have an extra bed in my room, and I’d love to have a room mate. You can enjoy the tree tomorrow. You said you didn’t have to go back to work until the day after Christmas. Why don’t you just stay here until then?”
My oldest daughter’s impulsiveness brought approval from her brothers and sisters.
“But we can’t impose. Christmas is for families and–”
But John interrupted. “Then pretend we are family. And, if you won’t do it for your own sake, do it for Peter’s. He needs a special Christmas this year.”
The appeal for Peter’s sake was the deciding factor, for Virginia looked down at her sleepy brother as he sat beside her, and nodded.
Peter’s chatter enlivened the breakfast table the next morning. His inquisitive questions sometimes puzzled even John and me, and we were obliged to tell the little fellow we didn’t know. Since it was Christmas Eve day, I didn’t have to work and enjoyed being home with my family. All morning long Peter was a shadow, and not a very silent one either. He followed John and Charles around the house, outside, and even down the road to return a lantern which had been left at our house the night before.
Stuck on the couch with her injured ankle up on a pillow, Virginia didn’t suffer from lack of company. Dorothy seemed to think it her special task to wait upon our guest’s every whim, though Virginia was anything but demanding. Even Ruth and Alice could be found in the living room listening as Virginia told stories.
After lunch, Dorothy suggested they make fudge. When Mary gave assent, John carried Virginia to the kitchen, while Charles brought a rocker, and Ruth and Peter dragged in a footstool. I was going to take a nap but paused long enough to see the candy making well established. There was a bright glow on Virginia’s face, and I wondered how long it had been since she had spent even a few carefree hours enjoying herself.
“Christmas is coming!” Peter sang, climbing up on a chair beside John.
“What would that child’s Christmas Eve have been like had he not run up to that cabin?” I mused half to myself.
“It would probably have been a much lonelier and quieter one,” Mary replied.
I nodded. “Mary, we’ll have to see to it that both those children aren’t forgotten after Christmas.”
“I don’t think they will be.” And my wife smiled knowingly.
That evening, after the supper dishes were washed and everyone had settled down, Charles plugged in the Christmas tree lights and turned off all the others. A hush fell even over Peter who sat on the couch between his sister and John. There was no snow outside and no prospect of any for tomorrow, but no one minded. Silently I let my gaze wander around the room. The younger ones were looking at the many presents which lay wrapped under the branches of the tree. That afternoon Dorothy and I had driven over to Mrs. Mead’s and picked up the few presents Virginia had for Peter. We did a little shopping of our own before we returned and now, though she didn’t say anything, I could tell my oldest daughter was fairly bursting with our secrets.
Then Peter’s young voice broke the silence. Somehow I knew he would be the first to talk. “That house did do it,” he stated.
“Do what, Peter,” his sister asked, taking one of his small hands in her own.
“It made everything all right and made you happy again. I tried to find something for you for Christmas, to make your sadness go away, Ginia, but–” he giggled, “I didn’t find anything. ‘Stead Mr. John and Mr. Hampton found me, and now everything is happy again.”
I didn’t miss the look my eldest son gave Virginia, and I didn’t need more lights than those on the Christmas tree to know she was blushing. It would be a very special day tomorrow. I reached out for my wife’s hand. Somehow I knew that none of us would forget Peter’s Christmas. Especially John and Virginia.
Did you like it?
What do you think happened after that?
Tomorrow I have a very short story for you.
Will you be back?
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