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Home For Christmas. - Pt. 1 -Christmas Treasures.
Home for Christmas
‘M-O-M, h-o-o-m-e!’ Goodness, thought Renee, does she have to shout so? Always been like a hurricane. And then she realised she was on the floor in the laundry room. Goodness, she thought, I fell asleep here?
In barged the hurricane. ‘Mom, why are you on the floor?’
‘I wondered the same myself. Never been here before. Why are you home?’
‘Be serious, mom. Did you have a pass-out? I’m calling Dr. Gallagher.’
‘Hey, I’m only pregnant, not struck by a truck. Fell asleep, and it was so warm and comfy here. You leave Dr. G. out of it. You just want to see the guy.‘ Silently, she thought, wow, I sure was tired.
The lovely 20-year-old blushed but squatted down to help her mother sit up on the floor and gave her a tender hug. ‘How’s Bummer?’
‘Just kicking so and like to break my ribs. Like you used to.‘ Renee gave her eldest her ‘evil eye’. ‘Well, no bones broken as of now.’
As Fleur was helping her up, Renee gasped.
‘What, mom? Are you hurt? Oh, is it Bummer?’ Fleur had been following her mother’s progress assiduously since the 45-year-old had unexpectedly got pregnant much to her own embarrassment and her husband’s horror and the children’s delight. She had insisted on accompanying her mother on her prenatal visits whenever she was home from college, sometimes tagging 15-year-old Leonie along whenever available. Little brother Paul, 12, thought doctors’ rooms were yucky.
Mom and Dad
Their father, their beloved old (50-plus) darling ‘Dads’ would be instructed to mind the house if he was not at his contractor’s work. Renee and Don had their suspicions about Fleur’s interest in the pre-natal visits, the sole and entire reason, they thought, being young Dr. Patrick Gallagher.
The pregnancy had gone very smoothly and at 38 weeks, was having every one in the house eyeing ‘Bummer’s’ movements and their mother’s activities. The accepted dictum was that if a very pregnant woman started frantically house-cleaning, the baby ‘wouldn’t be too long now’. He was due a few days after Christmas.
Well, this was exactly a week to Christmas, and naturally, weeks ago, Renee had started house-cleaning and baking the family’s favorite cookies. What would Christmas be without snickerdoodles? Or with dust balls under the settee? Don and the kids were great with helping set the house to rights. Don did all the heavy vacuuming and high dusting and he was going to be the chef for Christmas, but the baking needed Renee’s delicate touch.
So there were already bins of snickerdoodles and gingerbread and ginger cookies and biscotti - Renee’s mother was coming from Brittany on the 21st., with a couple of the kids' cousins - their best friends - who just loved to eat.
‘So, mom, is it Bummer?’ Renee came back to the present. ‘Is he kicking? You said, ‘Ouch’.
‘Yeah, he did.’ That must be it, she thought, though she felt a little achey, without knowing where she ached. I didn’t fall. I lowered myself to the floor, and there’s no injury that I can feel. ‘Help me to the settee, sweetheart. I could do with a little shut-eye. Didn’t sleep too much last night. Bummer was jumping the hoops.’
Fleur was thankful the college had closed down a few days early for Christmas. She was thankful she was there when her mother needed her. When Renee was settled comfortably and Fleur had drawn the crocheted cover over her, she went up to her bedroom and called Dr. Gallagher.
‘Yes, she was on the floor.... Said she’d had a nap there because it was so warm and comfy and she hadn’t slept well the night before... I don’t think she fell.... No, she had no pain, though she said ‘ouch’ once when I was helping her up and she said it was the baby...She walked fine... I put her on the settee to nap... Okay, I’ll keep an eye on her and call you again if anything changes. Thanks. Bye.‘
Now she felt much better, went downstairs and brought out some bins of Christmas decorations treasured through the years. An hour was spent pleasurably sorting the favorite antique decorations for the tree from those that would be taped or tacked or stood around the house. She had so looked forward to doing the Christmas preparations. Don and Renee had inculcated a love of Christmas in their three children growing up in that beloved house that their parents had built together.
Picking up a string of lights, Fleur wandered to the bay window of the spacious eat-in kitchen to drink in the cold beauty of the evergreens outside. There was a golden glow of the wintry sun through the still, majestic branches of the conifers. Later, with the snows would come the great breath-taking shows of sunlight glinting off dancing pure white snow crystals. Closer to the house, strands of red and white bead-like buds of the japanese pieris dangled shyly among their broad green leaves. Fleur spied two little wild rabbits in the undergrowth, standing, peering around, then running and scattering the piled leaves, oblivious of the enchanted girl watching them, so still.
gifts for the cooks on your list.
Companionship -Mother and Daughter
Sighing, she put down the lights and went to the fridge, bringing out four eggs and a medley of fresh vegetables and herbs. Expertly making a Spanish omelette, she rounded out the simple lunch with a pot of her mother’s favorite Earl Grey tea. She made up a tray for her and brought it to the den.
‘Rise and shine, mommy, nourishment time.’ Renee opened one eye.
‘Eating with me?’
‘Naturally. Let’s sit you up. Boy, you sure passed out. The nap did you good, huh, momma?’
‘Good as a vacation, angel.’
Fleur sat on the floor with her tray and they ate companionably together. Both had Earl Grey tea with a couple of rock-crystal sugar lumps, and the gentle fragrance of that lovely tea kept them company as they chatted quietly, loth to break the spell of the early afternoon. Fleur brought her mother up to date about her studies and school activities while surreptitiously examining her for any reportable signs and finding none.
She made her mother lie down for another hour while she cleared up and continued sorting the Christmas decorations.
Don and Leonie came home together and found Fleur twining the white-star Christmas lights around the banister which she herself had polished to a mirror shine several weeks before on a visit home.
‘Hey Daddy, school closed early for Christmas. Aren’t you glad? Now we can all start the decorations. Hands off the cookie-jar, Leonie, we’re starting dinner soon. Oh, mom’s resting, Dad. She was so tired she lay down in the laundry and fell asleep. She’s on the settee now.’
‘Welcome home, honey.’ Don kissed her and went in to see his wife. Seeing her dozing, he came back to the kitchen.
‘Hey to you too, Boss-lady,’ said Leonie, giving her big sister a hug. ‘Got cookie, will travel,’ She grinned that toothy grin of the irrepressible adolescent. ‘Got a little bit of homework. Don’t start dinner without me. Mom said I could do toad-in-the-hole tonight.’
‘Oh,good. Paul will love that. It’ll make up for his toad that leaped out from the glass tank and all over the house before mom made him put it out into the garden.’
‘Gave your mother conniptions!’ laughed Don. ‘I thought she was going to have the baby right then. By the way, Paul has an extra rehearsal today for the school concert. Jim’s giving him a ride home about 5.30.’
‘Is he singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone “ solo, Dad?’
‘That’s what I heard,’ smile her father proudly. ‘He has two solos. He’s also in the chorus of several other Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs. It’ll be a grand concert for Christmas. It's in, let's see, five days, on the 23rd.'
'You remembered to get tickets for everybody, Dad, Grandma and the other three?'
'Oh, yes! Wouldn't have anybody miss it for the world.'
Leonie went past the den, gave her mother a kiss on the cheek and went through to her ground floor bedroom. She soldiered for an hour with her chemistry assignment, coming out when she figured she had fasted long enough. Her mother was stretching luxuriously on the settee when she was passing and together they joined the two in the kitchen.
Renee and Don greeted each other affectionately and smiled at the two girls, so perfect in their eyes. ‘
‘Leonie and I are making dinner, Mom. She’s promised toad-in-the-hole. And I have a new salad recipe from my Thai girl friend.’
‘Great,’ Don said. ‘Mom and I will take a turn in the garden. I guess she hasn’t been out today, have you, honey?’
‘Uh- uh,’ Renee said. They donned coats and scarves and warm boots and, with her husband’s arm around her shoulders, left the girls to their task.