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Home for Christmas - Pt. 4 -O Christmas Tree.
O Christmas Tree
They brought the tree in between them. Fleur insisted on their having dinner before decorating it, knowing it would take all night. Paul had to choose between the tree and toad-in-the -hole, and the tree won over his stomach. So they had the old standby, mac-and-cheese with a cucumber and tomato salad. Eager to start on the tree, they cleaned up quickly between them and Paul brought in the heavy iron tree-stand from the mud-room. It took its place in its annual position, the corner of the den between two bay windows, which gave the tree maximum visibility from outside. ‘So friendly that way.’
They had the tree up in place in no time, standing in its bowl of water. They examined it from all angles before starting on the decorations. Fleur being the tallest, she stood on the step-stool to start the first string of lights at the top, leading the string down for her siblings to wind around the tree and back to her. The strings were plugged end to end for length, and were led into the thick of the leaves and in to the trunk and out again so that the lights would shine out from the tree, not just from the outer branches.
They were all white stars, because the children loved the illusion of starlight on their tree over Christmas. The last string ended with a plug which Leonie put into the socket and switched on.
‘Oh-h, how be-a-u-ti-ful!’ they sighed, stepping back to view their handiwork. ‘Now for the ornaments.‘ They placed the treasured pieces on the coffee table, the settee and spaces on the floor to decide where they were all to go for best effect. There were antique Christmas balls, angels and birds, a glass rocking horse, and a nativity crib carved from a tiny gourd, with little figures of the First Christmas. There was a five-pointed wooden photo frame with the family picture from six years ago, made by Leonie in fourth grade. These and many other ornaments were given their pride of place on the branches of that six-foot blue spruce, and when the last was in place, the three children stood silently before the tree and breathed in its peace, Fleur’s arms around the shoulders of her siblings.
My Christmas Tree
A Song for Mom.
‘Right, good job. Let’s call Mom and Dad and tell them about it.’
With the cell phone speaker on, there was a lively family conversation. Don was staying with Renee, which gave her comfort. She had some vague twinges now and then, nothing to be alarmed about.
The children told them about the nice Johnsons who gave them a gorgeous blue spruce Christmas tree and would come see the baby in the new year. Fleur thought she would send them a gift basket, which Renee thought was very thoughtful.
When Paul asked to sing for his mother he set her crying with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
When all the good nights were said, they had a nightcap of warm milk. Soon the children had to go to bed.
Fleur decided to wrap the presents she had been hoarding through the year, and put them under the tree. She then did some school research on her computer. It was soon, too soon, 11pm. Bedtime, whether she wanted it or not.
Labor and Delivery
Don and Renee were asleep, deaf to the muted sounds of the nurses doing the rounds and the occasional trundling of a stretcher passing. Renee was dreaming. She was hula-hooping with her troupe of girlfriends in high school. They were clapping and egging her on, ‘faster, Renee,faster.’ And she went spinning faster, faster, and she felt her body twisting too hard, and then she could not move, it was too painful.
‘No-o, no-o,’ she groaned. ‘No,no, oh no.’ Don sat bolt upright. His wife was twisting and groaning.
He switched on the night light.
‘Renee, Renee, what is it?’
Her eyes flew open. ‘Oh, Don, pain.’
‘You're having pains?’
'Is it the baby, sweetheart?'
‘O-o-h.’ She gasped. ‘The baby, Don, he’s started.’
Don pressed the call-bell and looked at his watch. 1.30 am. ‘A most inconsiderate baby, this,’ he grumbled.
The night nurse, Ms. Corel, came in, looked at the patient and asked for privacy to check on her, and Don stepped out. The nurse examined her with sterile gloves, and stayed watching and timing the contractions. ‘You’re in active labor, Mrs. Easton.’
‘No kidding,’ panted Renee.
Ms. Corel grinned. ‘I mean, your contractions are lasting more than 2 mins. and are quite strong and fairly close together. And you’re already quite dilated. It’s not uncommon, when you’ve had several previous births, that this will be a shortish labor. So I’m going to take you to Labor and Delivery and call your doctor in. It’s Dr. Gallagher, isn’t it?’
She called the desk and asked for Dr. Gallagher to be paged and to tell L&D to expect Mrs. Easton.
Everything happened in a whirl. Before he could gather his wits, Don was helping his wife transfer to a stretcher and pushing it with the nurse down a corridor to the Labor and Delivery ward, after which he sat at Renee’s head and tried miserably to comfort her.