Christmas Eve

“Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas!  This is the Lynch residence, Ed speaking.” 

Ed Lynch sat in his home office, reviewing a list of the toys he and his wife still needed to assemble for their four youngest children.  It was almost three o’clock on Christmas Eve. 

“Mr. Lynch?  It’s Joyce Skaggs, director of nursing at the Sleepyside Hospital.”  The voice was pleasant yet brisk.  “I’m calling to ask a great favor.”

“I’m always glad to do anything for the hospital,” Ed said with a jolly laugh.  “How can I help you, Mrs. Skaggs?”

“It’s our visit from Santa for the patients,” the nursing director explained.  “Our Santa had a medical emergency and is a patient himself.  I hate to ask you to step in at the last minute, but several people recommended you and… the patients look forward to Santa’s visit every year.  It’s no fun to be in the hospital on Christmas Eve.”

“Of course.”  Ed checked his watch.  “I can be there in an hour,” he told her.

“Wonderful, Mr. Lynch!  I knew we could count on you.”  He could imagine her beaming smile through the telephone line.  “Now, we do have a costume, and the gifts have been purchased and wrapped.  The only thing you’ll have to do is to dress up and visit each patient.  Thank you so much!”

“Where’s Daddy?” Larry Lynch asked.  “Isn’t he going to church with us?”

His mother stood in front of the big mirror over her dresser, carefully outlining her mouth with lipstick.  She blotted her lips on a tissue and dropped it into the wastebasket before answering.  “Daddy had to go into his office in the city to do some work this afternoon,” she replied.

“On Christmas Eve?  That’s no fair!”  Larry exclaimed.

“Well, he had some very important work to do.”  She fluffed her black hair and placed a black hat decorated with curly white feathers on her head.  Larry itched to touch those soft, wispy feathers, which moved if a breath of air reached them.  She was so beautiful in her dark red dress and black coat.  Larry thought she was the most beautiful mommy in the world.  When he grew up, he was going to marry her.

But now Mommy had turned to him, crouching down on the floor in front of him.  “Now, I need you and Terry to help me get your sisters to church.  After church we’ll eat dinner and read the Christmas story.”

“Okey-dokey,” he agreed, proud to be acting as the oldest for a change.  His sister Diana had gone to Arizona—far, far away—with her friends Trixie and Honey, and their brothers, for the holiday.  He missed her, but it was nice to be the oldest for once.

“Terry!  Margie!  Barbie!  Come on, it’s time to go to church!”  he shouted, not moving from his spot.  He turned a proud smile on his mother.  “I called them, Mommy.” 

Mrs. Lynch put a hand to her mouth.  It was a second before she answered. 

“Yes, darling, you called them.  Now I need you to go to the nursery and find them.  Everyone should be ready to go.”

Still carrying out his role as man of the family, Larry went to the nursery, where Barbie and Margie were playing with stuffed animals.  They’d already been dressed in red corduroy jumpers by their nannies.  The jumpers were color-matched to their mother’s dress, and were combined with white turtlenecks and tights, and black patent leather shoes.  The nannies had left immediately afterward to spend the holiday with their own families.  The little girls were babies, Larry thought from his lofty seniority of two years.  They were jabbering away in their own language while holding their favorite stuffed animals tightly. 

His twin brother Terry had built a fort of blocks in the corner and was preparing to ram his largest toy truck into it.  

“Are you ready for church, Terry?” he asked, walking over to watch Terry carry out his attack.  The block fort exploded with a satisfying crash, pieces flying out in all directions.  Larry itched to get down on the floor and play, too.  But his mom was counting on him, he reminded himself.

“Church?  Do we have to go?”  Terry turned around and scowled at him.

“Yes, it’s Christmas Eve,” he answered impatiently.  “Don’t you want to see Baby Jesus?  Besides, we get to eat as soon as we come home and open one present.  Mommy told me so.”

“Oh, all right,” Terry agreed, getting up.  He cast a lingering, regretful look at his destroyed fort.

Mrs. Lynch appeared in the doorway.  She was holding the girls’ coats.  “Come, kiddies,” she said.  “Let’s go.”  She slipped the coats onto her daughters, managing to let them keep holding onto their fluffy stuffed pets as she did.  After tying their white knitted hats on, she snapped a harness and leash onto each little girl.

“Can you boys get your coats on while I take the girls downstairs?  We’ve got to go in a minute.” 

Larry and Terry hurried, galumphing down the polished steps as they normally weren’t allowed to do.  Soon all five of them were loaded into the big black Cadillac that Di-Di called the Batmobile, and headed for Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church.

All during church, Larry made a real effort to sit still and to monitor the behavior of his brother and sisters.  Once, his mom had to separate him from Terry, because Terry just didn’t want to behave.  Instead, he kept taking his clip-on necktie off and flicking it open and closed.  When Larry tried to get him to behave, Terry hit him.  That’s when his mom separated them.  The girls fell asleep and lay down on the pew, and church was so crowded Larry had only an edge of the seat to sit on.  But he didn’t complain and barely pushed Margie to one side so he could move.  It wasn’t his fault she woke up and started crying.

“Was I a big help, Mommy?” he asked as they settled back into the car for the trip home.  “I tried to get those kids to behave,” he added virtuously.

“Yes, dear,” his mom assured him.  Her hair was messed up, he noticed.  Must have been when she had to crawl down under the pew to retrieve Barbie’s dumb stuffed kitty, he decided.

“You were too bossy,” Terry contradicted.  “You’re not the boss of me.”

“I’m the oldest,” Larry said loftily.  “That means I’m the boss.  Next to Di-Di.”

“Larry bossy,” Margie insisted.  “Larry woke me up.”

Barbie stuck her tongue out at him.  “Not bossy me.”

“You’re too little.  You don’t know what we’re talking about.”  He stuck his tongue out at her, too.

“Mommy, Larry’s being mean to me,” Barbie hollered.

“Let’s sing a song,” Mrs. Lynch suggested.  “How about Jingle Bells?”

They all knew how to sing Jingle Bells, and the argument was forgotten for the rest of the drive home.  

Back at home, Larry led the way into the house, tearing through the front hall in his snowy boots.  He pushed his way past Harrison and ran to the living room, where the big decorated Christmas tree stood.

“Come on, kids!  Hurry up!” he shouted.  “We hafta eat before we can open a present!”  He looked back for the others.  Terry had been caught by Harrison, who was removing his boots while Mommy took the girls’ coats off and hung them up. 

Oops!  He looked back and noticed the clumps of snow and puddles of water where the snow from his boots was already melting.

“Don’t worry, Mommy!  I can take off my own boots,” he shouted.

He sat down right on a wet spot and started pulling on the boots.  Once his feet were free he carried the boots back into the hall, not noticing that a few more clumps of snow now decorated the shiny polished wooden floor of the hallway.

Harrison took the boots from him without smiling and assisted him with his coat.  As Larry turned around, he heard Terry giggling.  He spun around and saw his brother pointing at him, face red with laughter.

“Larry wetted his pants,” Terry choked out. 

“Did not!”  Terry wasn’t going to call him a baby!  He pushed his twin, knocking him into Margie, who was standing still and sucking her thumb.  Margie fell down and immediately let out a howl.

“Larry!”  Mommy was frowning at him.  “I thought you were going to be my helper.”

“I’ll be your helper, Mommy,” Terry immediately offered.

“No, you won’t!  I’m the oldest.”  Larry punched his brother and Terry hit him back.

“Boys!  Remember, Santa will be here tonight.  Does he leave toys for children who fight?”  His mom looked sad and Larry felt an immediate stab of fear.  What if Santa didn’t leave him anything?  He and Terry had asked for more Hot Wheel tracks and cars. 

“Sorry,” he offered to Terry.  He extended a hand to his twin.  “Shake?” 

Terry looked sorry...or at least a little bit worried.  He stuck out his hand and Larry shook it.  Next their mom said, “Boys, can you help your sisters come to the family dining room and get into your chairs?  We’ll eat supper and then you can each unwrap one present.”

“Yes!!!” Larry exclaimed.  “Margie!” he hollered in an earsplitting voice.  “Where did they go, Mommy?”

“I don’t know.  Go find them, darlings.”  Mrs. Lynch headed for the family dining room and Larry looked around.  Where could those two babies have gone?  His attention was caught by the brightly decorated, shiny aluminum tree, sparkling in the living room with a rotating colored light in front of it.  Maybe they’d gone in there.  He ran into the room, Terry right behind him.  Sure enough, the two girls stood before the tree, openmouthed in astonishment.  Margie was crouched down in front of the colored light and Barbie was watching as her sister took on first blue, then green, then red and yellow tints. 

“My turn!” she cried.

“No, you hafta come eat supper now,” Larry ordered, taking Margie by the hand.  She jerked away from him.


“My turn to watch colors,” Barbie said.  “Eat after my turn.”

“Let’s eat now,” Terry suggested, trying to help his brother.  “So we can open presents.”  He took Barbie’s hand and she started to howl.

“My turn!  My turn!”

“What’s taking so long, children?”  Mrs. Lynch appeared in the doorway, frowning.

“They won’t come, Mommy,” Larry explained.

 “Come, darlings,” Mrs. Lynch said with a sigh.  She picked up both of her daughters and carried them to the dining room, even though Margie cried and Barbie wailed, “I didn’t get my turn!”

After supper, Larry helped his mom carry the dirty dishes back into the kitchen.  He only  dropped one cup on the floor.  Fortunately, it was plastic and didn’t break.  Unfortunately, it had milk in it and left a puddle on the floor.

“Terry!” he yelled.  “Come clean up this milk.  I’m busy helping Mommy.”  He directed an angelic smile at his mother. 

Terry ran in to see what he was being told to do.  Seeing the puddle, he crossed his arms and said. “You aren’t the boss of me, and besides, you spilled the milk so you should clean it up.”

“Can’t you see I’m busy helping with dishes?” Larry countered.

“Boys!  Remember Santa can see you all the time.”   Mrs. Lynch frowned at both of them.  “Terry, please get a clean dishcloth and wipe up the milk.  Larry, don’t try to carry so much at one time.”

Santa!  Larry grabbed the dishcloth from Terry, who was carefully squeezing the water out of it.  He ran back to the spot but overshot his mark and slipped in the puddle of milk.  The wet dishcloth sailed out of his hand and landed on his mother’s red high-heeled shoe.

“Look what you did,” Terry pointed out.  “Now you made an even bigger mess.”

Mrs. Lynch removed the wet cloth from her shoe.  Larry thought her voice sounded frazzled.  “Both of you, go on out to the living room, please.  I’ll finish up in here.  See what your sisters are doing.” 

“We were trying to help,” Larry pointed out.  “So Santa would see.”

“I think Santa will like it just as well if you help me with your sisters.”

“Really?”  Terry didn’t sound like he believed that.

Larry saw an opportunity to get out of helping with dishes.  It wasn’t that much fun, anyway.  “We’ll go see what those little kids are up to.  We hafta make sure they don’t knock the light over.”  He started off toward the living room.  “Come on, Terry.” 

“Okey-dokey.”  Terry ran after his brother.  Larry started running, too.  He wasn’t about to let Terry beat him.  The two girls sat on the floor against the window wall, mesmerized by the rotating colored light.  He skidded to a stop just in time to keep from running over the light, but Terry couldn’t stop fast enough.  He ran right into Larry, and knocked him down.  The light toppled over and went out.

“Now look what you did!” Larry hollered.

“Larry break light,” Margie said, pointing at him.

“I did not!”

“Did, too!”  Barbie joined in.

“Terry pushed me, so it’s his fault.”  Larry picked himself up and glared at his brother.

“Is not!”

“Children!”  Mrs. Lynch stood in the doorway, hands on hips and an apron tied around her waist.  “Is anyone hurt?”

“No, Mommy.”  Larry spoke for all of them.  “But Terry was running and pushed me into the light, and it broke.”  His lower lip trembled.  Since he had broken the light, maybe Santa wouldn’t come.  Even though it wasn’t really his fault.

“I didn’t push him,” Terry protested.  “He stopped too fast and I ran into him.”

“Bofe of them were running, Mommy.”  Margie nodded emphatically.

“Bofe running.” Barbie echoed..

“Boys, you shouldn’t have been running in the house.  Girls, don’t tattle.”  She walked over to the outlet where the light was plugged into the wall and unplugged it.  “I’m going to change the lightbulb, but when I bring the light back, all of you need to keep away from it.”  She turned on a light next to the sofa.  “Now, be quiet for a few minutes and I’ll read you a story before bedtime.  Then you will have to go to sleep so Santa can come.” 

Larry noticed his mother’s voice was a little shaky, and wondered why.  More surprisingly, her makeup was a little smeared.  Had she been crying?

“Where’s Daddy?” Terry asked.  “He always helps us fix a snack for Santa and for Rudolph.”

“Yeah, where’s Daddy?”  Margie joined in.

“I want Daddy!” Barbie howled.

“And how will Santa find Di-Di when she’s way far away in Arizona?” Terry continued.

“I want my Di-Di!” Now Barbie was really crying.

“Di-Di might not get any presents!” Margie wept.

Larry looked at his mom, about to ask another question.  Her eyes were awfully watery, though, and her chin was shaking.  He was scared then, but addressed his siblings instead. 

“Kids, stop it!  Daddy had to go to his office for a while.  He’ll be back later.  Mommy knows what kind of snacks Santa and Rudolph like, anyway.  She can help us fix them.  And Santa is magic.  If he knows when we are sleeping and he’s keeping a list of all the kids in the world, then he knows where Di-Di is right now.  So there.”  He folded his arms across his chest and stood as tall as he could.

“Santa’s magic.”  Barbie nodded.

“He knows where Di-Di is.”  Margie agreed, drying her tears with the hem of her dress.

“Daddy will be home soon,” their mother assured them.  “He had some important work to do, but he’ll be home before Santa comes.”  Larry noticed her voice had lost its shakiness.  “Now, be good for just a few more minutes and listen to some nice Christmas music.”  She turned on the stereo and they all heard the jolly voice of Burl Ives singing songs from the Rudolph Christmas special they had watched a couple of weeks before.  Then she hurried out of the living room with the tree light and Larry could hear her rummaging around in the kitchen for a light bulb.

After the bulb was changed, Mrs. Lynch set up the rotating light again.  “Kiddies, I’ll be ready in just a couple of minutes.  Then we’ll go upstairs and I’ll read to you.”  She left them watching the rotating light and went back to the kitchen.

“I hafta go to the baf-room,” Margie announced.  “I hafta go now!”  She scooted off the sofa and toddled toward the hallway powder room.  But as Larry watched, she stopped and began to cry.  He jumped down from the sofa and followed after her.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.  “You said you were going to the bathroom.”

“I wetted my pants!  Now I’m all wet!” 

Larry looked down.  Sure enough, there was a puddle on the floor under her feet. 

Barbie joined them.  “What’s wrong, Margie?”  She reached out to hug her sister.

“I wetted myself!  Now Santa won’t bring me any toys.”  Margie cried louder.

“Santa will, too, bring you toys,” Larry said quickly, before Barbie could set up a howl, too.  “Wetting yourself isn’t being bad.”

“It’s not?”  Margie looked at him trustingly and he nodded firmly.

Terry joined the group, as usual wanting to see everything.  “Yuck!” he exclaimed.  “Why is the floor all wet?”

“Children!  What’s going on?”  Their mother looked down at the floor and sighed.  “Let me wipe up the floor and we’ll all go upstairs.”  She hurried back to the kitchen for paper towels while Barbie went to the powder room.

After wiping up the floor, Mrs. Lynch headed for the powder room to dispose of the used paper towels.  But the door would not open.  She rattled the door.  “Barbie!  Open the door!”

“Mommy!”  Barbie’s voice was panicky.  “The door’s stuck!”

“It’s locked, sweetie.  Did you lock it?”

“Yes.  My wanted pwi-vacy,” Barbie sobbed.

Mrs. Lynch rolled her eyes toward the ceiling.  “God give me strength!” Larry heard her say.

“Mommy!”  He pulled at her dress.  Margie had wandered back into the living room to stare at the tree, and Terry had followed her. 

“What, darling?” she asked, a frown creasing her forehead.

“Daddy showed me where he hided the baf-room key.”

“He did?  Can you get it for me?”    

“No, but if you pick me up I can get it.  He put it on top of the door-frame.”

“I remember now,” his mom said.  “Let’s see.”

“Mommy!” Barbie sobbed from inside the bathroom.

“Don’t worry, baby.  We’re going to get you out.  Don’t cry.”

Larry could hear Barbie sniffling, but she stopped crying.   “Lift me up, Mommy,” he said.  She lifted him until his head was higher than hers.  He felt the edge of the door frame.  The key was gone.  Oh, no!  He slid his hand along the top of the frame until he was almost to the other end.

“Larry, I’ve got to put you down for a minute,” his mother said. 

“Did you get key?”  Barbie’s voice came from inside the powder room. 

“Almost, sweetheart,” Mrs. Lynch assured her.  “Let’s try again, Larry.”

This time, he started at the end where he’d stopped before.  Just as he felt the piece of metal, it fell off the frame onto the floor with a plink.  His mom put him down and plucked the key from the floor, unlocking the door.  Barbie ran out and grabbed her mom around the knees.     

“Thank you, Mommy!” she cried.  “Thank you!”

Mrs. Lynch wobbled on her high heels, but didn’t fall.  “Thank Larry, sweetie.  I couldn’t have done it without his help.”

Larry stood proudly and puffed out his chest.  Surely Santa would let this good deed cancel out the broken Christmas tree light.  “Want me to put the key back now, Mommy?”

“Um, maybe later,” she replied.  “Right now, let’s get both of these girls washed up and get you kids into bed.”  She rubbed her back and rolled her shoulders before straightening Barbie’s tights and jumper.  Next she stepped into the powder room, flushed the toilet, and held Barbie up to the sink to wash her hands.

“But Mommy, you said we could open a present after supper,” Larry reminded her.

“Yes, I did.”  His mom sighed, and yawned like she was tired.  “All right, let’s go to the living room.”  She snatched a towel from the bar on the wall.

Margie sat on the blue and gold carpet, staring at the reflected light on the sparkly silver tree and its shiny ornaments, while Terry picked up and shook each of the seven packages under the tree in turn.

“Hey, stop that,” Larry told his brother.  “No fair for you to find out what we got first.”

“Nothing makes any noise,” Terry retorted.  “So how could I tell what it is?”

“Margie, darling, let me take off your wet tights.”  Mrs. Lynch lifted her daughter and pulled the wet tights down as she dropped the folded towel onto the spot where Margie had been sitting.  “Now, sit back down on the towel, it’s dry,” she said as she slipped Margie’s black patent leather shoes off.  Larry saw her studying the wet tights as if trying to decide where to put them.  Finally, she just dropped them on the floor.

“All right, then!  Who can read any of the names on the packages?” Mrs. Lynch asked with a little laugh.

Terry stared at the package he was holding, screwing up his face until Larry thought his eyes would cross.  No one spoke.  “My can’t read,” Barbie reminded her.

Larry stepped up to the tree and picked up a package.  “This one has a B on it,” he offered.  “Barbie starts with B.”  Barbie snatched the package before her mom could check it, and started tearing off the paper.  Inside was a package of flannel pajamas, white with red and green dots.

“Oh, those are pretty,” Mrs. Lynch exclaimed.  She helped Barbie remove them from their plastic bag packaging.

“Pajamas!”  Terry looked scornful.  Secretly, Larry agreed with him.  Pajamas were okay for little girls, but he really hoped his present contained some Hot Wheels track pieces.  He picked up another package. 

“This one has a T on it.  T-e-r-r-y, is that Terry?”  At his mother’s nod, he tossed the package to his brother.  Terry tore off the paper instantly, and his face fell as he stared at a pair of red and green plaid flannel pajamas.  He dropped the package on the floor.

“I thought Santa would bring me some new racetrack pieces,” he said with a glum face.

“I think those pajamas are very nice, and they’ll keep you good and warm this winter,” Mrs. Lynch said.  She smiled, but Larry thought she looked sad.

“Of course they will,” Larry insisted, despite a sinking feeling that his package contained pajamas as well.  He picked through the remaining packages for one with an M.  “Is this for Mommy or Margie?” he asked.

His mom took the package and studied it.  “This one is for Margie.”  She handed it to Margie, who ripped the paper and pulled out a package identical to Barbie’s. 

Margie, however, was excited.  “Pretty!” she exclaimed.  “Can I wear them right now?”

“Wait until we go upstairs and I’ll get you cleaned up and in some dry panties,” Mrs. Lynch replied with a real smile.

Four packages remained.  One had an M, two a D, and one an L—which he knew stood for Larry.  He decided to give his mom her package first, but she told him to open his own.  “I’ll open mine later, when Daddy gets home,” she said.  “Open yours.”

Just as he’d expected, his package held a pair of flannel pajamas.  His were dark green, instead of matching Terry’s.  Although he was disappointed, he still wanted to please his mom and show Santa he deserved to be on the “nice” list. 

“Thank you, Santa!” he shouted, looking up to the ceiling.  Another thought occurred to him.  “Why did Santa leave us one present, when he has to come back later with our real presents?”

“The pajamas are from Daddy and me,” his mom said with a smile.  “I guess you children didn’t think pajamas are much of a Christmas present, but we thought it would be nice to stay in our pajamas tomorrow while you play with your new toys.”  She stood up, picking up the wet tights and shoes again.  “Let’s go on upstairs.  I’ll get these girls cleaned up and read two stories to all of you.”

Thirty minutes later, all four children were in pajamas and their teeth were brushed.   Larry found their Christmas books, “The Night Before Christmas”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and a picture-book Bible story about the first Christmas.

“I thought I said just two stories,” Mrs. Lynch protested when he presented her with the three books.

“But I couldn’t choose just two,” Larry told her, gazing up into her eyes with his very best smile.

“I suppose I can read until my voice gives out,” she agreed.  “But after that, all of you have to get in bed and stay there.  Santa can’t come if you’re awake.”  Rather than going into one of the two bedrooms each set of twins shared, she took a seat on the comfortable sofa in the playroom that connected them.  The two little girls sat on her lap, and Larry and Terry snuggled up on each side.  She opened the first book and started.

“T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house...”

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Mrs. Lynch closed the Bible story picture book and handed it to Larry.  While he carried all three books back to the bookcase, she eased Margie off her lap, pushed off her red high heels and stood up, holding Barbie.  Both little girls were sound asleep.  Terry yawned and stretched before rubbing his eyes. 

“Good night, Mommy,” he mumbled. 

“Good night, sweetheart,” she replied, bending down to kiss him good night.  Although in the middle of a yawn, Larry ran to kiss her as well.  Then the two boys straggled into their room and crawled under the covers while she carried Barbie into the girls’ room and tucked her into her bed.  She returned to put Margie to bed as well.  Neither of the girls roused at all.  When she went into the boys’ room to tuck them in, they were both asleep.  She made sure they were tucked in and slowly went downstairs again, after retrieving her shoes. 

She sprinkled some baking soda on the wet spot in the living room where Margie had sat on the carpet in her wet clothes, and glanced back around the kitchen, making sure she had started the dishwasher and hadn’t left anything undone.

The big grandfather clock in the foyer chimed nine o’clock just as she turned out the kitchen light.  She couldn’t believe it.  She was exhausted and it felt like it should have been midnight.  I’ll just lie down on the couch in the den until Ed gets home, she thought.  Surely that will be soon.  Pulling a royal blue throw over herself, she snuggled down into the couch, her shoes on the floor in front of her.  She turned on the television and flipped the channels until she found one showing a rerun of Miracle on 34th Street

Finally, she allowed herself to relax, in spite of the confining girdle and her nice new dress.  She was so tired she just didn’t care.  Her eyes fluttered closed, and she decided to  rest them for a few minutes.

Larry woke up feeling thirsty.  He wondered what time it was, and if Santa had already come.  How much longer before he could get up and get a drink?  The house was silent except for the almost inaudible sounds his brother and sisters’ soft breathing.  If he were very quiet, Santa wouldn’t even hear him get up.  That decided him.  He used the hallway bathroom and ran a small, quiet stream of water from the faucet to get his drink.  Since there was still no sound from downstairs, he decided to sneak down to the landing, where he could see the grandfather clock.

Just as he reached the landing, two things happened.  The grandfather clock started to chime, and as he counted the strokes, he heard the noise of a car just outside.  He crouched down to make himself as small as possible.  There was a big decorative flowerpot thing against the corner of the landing, and he could almost hide behind it.

The clock chimed ten times.  Ten o’clock!  He’d never been up this late before.  Maybe Santa had already come.  Just as he decided to sneak all the way down to check the Christmas tree, he heard the sound of a key in the front door, and he crouched down again.  When a plump, jolly white-bearded man in a Santa suit let himself inside, Larry’s jaw dropped open.  Santa! 

Although he was surprised Santa would enter by the front door, after all, he was magic and could do what he wanted to.  And there wasn’t but a tiny bit of snow on the ground today.   

“Ho, ho, ho!” the jolly old elf said—although rather more softly than Larry would have expected. 

Even more surprisingly, Larry saw his mom emerge from the direction of the den.  Her pretty red dress was rumpled, and her hair was a little smushed.  But she still looked beautiful and she still wore her beautiful red high heels.

“I thought you’d never come,” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around Santa. 

“We’re standing under the mistletoe,” Santa said with a smile.  “I guess you know what that means.”

“I do.”  She turned her face up to his and kissed him—right on the lips. 

Larry was shocked, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away.  Mommy was kissing Santa—and he was kissing her back.

“The children left some cookies for you and a snack for the reindeer,” she said as they separated.

Santa twirled her and ended up facing the landing.  He stared straight at Larry with a bright blue eye and then said, “Maybe I’d better visit the Beldens first.  Young Bobby is asleep, but someone here is awake.”

Larry turned around, scrambled up the steps and scampered into his room, where he dove under the covers of his bed.  He tried hard to listen for the front door to open and close again, but he didn’t hear anything.  Maybe his room was too far from the door.  Still, he didn’t want to take a chance.  He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on breathing like he was asleep.  He’d had some practice listening to his dad sleep, so he felt like he did a good job.  Slowly, he started to feel like he was sinking into a fluffy pile of snow, but warmer.

Let Santa stay and leave us our toys, he prayed.  I don’t want Bobby to get his toys before us, when Santa was here first.  Just as the snow was getting really warm and comfortable, he thought again about the incredible sight of his mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Of course, being magic, Santa could kiss anyone he wanted to.  But how funny it would have been if Daddy had seen that...

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Author’s Notes

5300 words

Merry Christmas, Pat!

The idea for this story came to me a couple of years ago during the Jixewrimo.  I had fun recalling some of the things that happened at Christmas with my siblings as well as my children (and I made up some of the things that happened to the Lynches!)  Most likely, no one would ever request a Secret Santa story focused on the Lynch twins.  But I thought Pat might enjoy it since she is so fond of small children. I decided to dedicate it to her since she does so much to make Jix the friendliest place on the ’net. There are a few touches I added just for Pat:  polka dots; Fortunately/Unfortunately, and a mention of Bobby Belden, Pat’s favoritest.  I did spend some time trying to decide if Bobby could be the POV character, but since so much depended on the sibling interaction, I decided it wouldn’t work for this story.

Thank you to Pat, for your friendship and many acts of kindness over the past 10 years.  You truly represent the spirit of Jix!

Thank you to my fabulous and faithful trio of editors:  Ronda, Ryl, and Trish.  Your comments and corrections are greatly appreciated!  Any errors remaining are my own, and not their fault.

Thank you to all of my readers.  You all are the best!

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2010-2014 by MaryN/Dianafan. Images from and Microsoft Clip Art; manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. Graphics copyright by Mary N 2014.

Story copyright by Mary N, 2014.

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