Cousins, young and old, gathered around Aunt Abby. Jules pulled Finley into her lap, singing softly in her ear. Constance joined her with Shannon. They started a quiet game of pat-a-cake with the two littles. Bruce dumped out a set of crayons and started to draw a tree, complete with owls and a blue jay. Ellie and Imogene hurried to draw trees too, with owls and blue jays. Joshua, Jude, and Remi emptied the car box. The boys lined the cars up by size and color, while Remi arranged the racetrack.
“Everyone ready?” Aunt Abby eyed all the busy fingers.
“Ready!” All ten cousins chorused.
“Ready,” Grandpa said, plopping between everyone and scooping Remi up in a loud, whiskery hug.
“Grandpa!” Remi yelled and giggled. Then everyone had to be hugged except Bruce, who didn’t like hugs, which only meant Grandpa hugged him harder. Once everyone had been hugged, and tickled, and gotten a drink, and gone potty, the ten cousins settled back down.
“Story time?” Aunt Abby asked.
“Yes, please,” Jules said.
“Will this have Zelda in it?” Ellie asked.
Aunt Abby through for a moment. “No, but how about the Ellie in the story is wearing a dress like Zelda?”
“Yes!” Ellie crowed.
“Who am I dressed like?” Imogene asked.
Realizing what she’d done, Aunt Abby quickly said, “Imogene is dressed like Moana. Jules like Princess Peach, Constance like Princess Leia, Shannon like Rey from Star Wars, Finley like Ginny from Harry Potter, and Remi like Hermione.”
“And us?” Joshua looked at the boys.
“Well, obviously Joshua, you’re dressed like Kylo Ren. Bruce is Garmadon, and Jude is Lightning McQueen. Good?”
Nods all around.
“Now are we ready for the story?”
After the sun went to bed, and the tiny warm lights shone bright in the dark, ten cousins—dressed in various bright, and some scary costumes—gathered around Grammie and Grandpa’s Christmas tree. Uncle Price read the Christmas story. His voice rose and fell with the rhyme. Anticipation and delight gleamed in every eye.
Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve. It was Christmas Eve. Time for presents, food, and sweets. Big boxes, odd shapes, tiny little things wrapped in red and green paper called to the children.
As Uncle Price said, “A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” a cheer filled the room.
Jude scooped up the Santa hat. “I can pass out the presents!”
“Silly boy,” said Jude’s Momma, “you can’t read yet. Let Uncle Jason be Santa.”
Disappointed, Jude gave up the red and white hat of power.
With many shouts over excited heads, the parents got each child sorted into a spot. Ready, Uncle Jason passed out the gifts.
A flat one went to Bruce, a big one to Jules, a soft one to Finley. More flat ones went to Constance, Remi, Shannon, and Ellie. A medium box brought a smile to Jude, while Joshua handled an awkwardly long box, and Uncle Jason gave Imogene a round box with reindeer wrapping paper. Books, pencils, stuffed animals, kits, crafts, clothes, pop-up-books, coloring books and more piled around the ten cousins.
Finally, to end the night, Imogene ripped off the last bit of paper on a box, opened the lid, and pulled out a yellow and black tactical bracelet, three sizes too big, complete with a tiny compass, and saw.
Delighted, Imogene held it high over the evening celebration, and exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted one of these.”
All the grownups paused.
Aunts, uncles, mommies, daddies, Grammie, and Grandpa all glanced at each other, then burst into laughter. They laughed and laughed. And each laugh expressed their satisfaction with the day, the cousins, the gifts, and each other.
“The end, already?” Imogene frowned.
“Just with that story. There will be more.”
“Why are there going to be more?” Imogene asked.
“Because there are so many of you and you keep doing silly things.”
“Hey!” Bruce said.
“Yeah, hey!” Jules echoed him.
Aunt Abby shrugged. “It’s not my fault y’all are silly. I’m just the storyteller.”
P.S. Usually I will only have one blog post a month, but if I write a short story that I don’t intend to publish professionally, I’ll post it on my blog spontaneously. I like to live on the edge. 😉
P.S.S. Did you know, I do posts specific to different social media? If you follow me on Twitter, you get the #oddwriter posts once a month. My Facebook posts are almost daily, with updates on what I’m working on. On Instagram, you’ll get to see the world through my eyes with images from around my home, including my trees, plants, decorations, and probably my computer. 🙂 My Pinterest is going to be mostly story related, but if you love faerie stories, you’ll enjoy seeing the magical things I find. My Patreon account will have mostly Patron only posts, but there will be some things you can still read and enjoy. On Spotify you can listen to the music that inspires me. (FaerieStories) Follow me where and when you please. (Links to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to your right.)