Mary carefully placed the last gift she had wrapped beneath the tree. There weren’t many, but she knew they would be appreciated by everyone.
The fire had slowly burned itself down to embers and the radio had been turned off when Uncle Mark left the room. A lonely silence filled the house, a memory of who was missing. She remembered last year when Nate had helped her wrap the gifts for their aunt and uncle and then sneak them under the tree. He had winked at her as he pulled a small item from his pocket. “I know it’s not Christmas yet, but this is for you, Mary. Merry Christmas.”
Mary reached up and felt the small chain that hung around her neck, the gift he’d given her. The locket had once been their mother’s and now it was hers.
She stood and switched off the light before slowly starting up the stairs. She passed Nate’s room then opened the door to her own. She left the light off as she quickly changed into her nightgown, then walked over to the window and opened it. Closing her eyes, she let the the light snowflakes softy brush her cheeks. Taking a deep breath of the cold air she smiled. Yes, even though it didn’t seem like Christmas, the magic of the season was still there. But it’s not just the snow, she reminded herself. God’s gift to us is the best thing we can ever celebrate.
“Come on, Mary. Time to get up or I’m going to bombard you with these snowballs.” Nate’s voice was full of teasing. “Come on, M. Well, I guess you asked for it!”
Mary gasped as she came fully awake. Sitting up, she realized that Nate hadn't thrown a snowball at her, but instead light, powdery snow covered the quilts she had been covered with.
Her eyes flew to the window and with a start she realized she had left it open the night before. She shivered as she looked at the dusting of snow that covered about half of the room. Wow, it must have snowed a lot last night. And I have to walk through all that to get to the closet. At the very thought she shivered, even though she was still covered with the heap of blankets and quilts. Better get it over with. She threw back the blankets and raced to the closet. She quickly grabbed a skirt and long sleeved sweater and threw them on before grabbing a pair of socks. She was halfway to the door before she realized she had better close the window. She tiptoed through the snow on the floor and closed it shut before running and opening the door and stepping out into the much warmer hallway.
Aunt Josie smiled, “Good morning, Mary. Why, child, what’s the matter? You look as though you slept outside!”
Mary smiled, but she knew it looked more like a grimace. “I left the window open last night. My room looks like the outside. At first I thought Nate was pelting me with snowballs like he normally would, but I opened my eyes and instead realized I literally got a white Christmas. In fact it may have been a little too white. And cold.” She bent over and pulled the warm wool stockings onto her feet.
Aunt Josie chuckled, “really? Well, why don’t you come down and warm yourself by the stove. I’ve gotten the fruitcake that we made out and it’s ready for breakfast. There’s also some warm hot chocolate.”
At that, Mary’s eyes lit up. There wasn’t anything she liked more on a snowy day then hot chocolate. She followed her aunt down the stairs and into the kitchen. “But I thought we were saving the fruitcake until tomorrow morning when everyone else would be here.”
“We are, but I figured three pieces wouldn’t be missed too much.”
“Well, what do we have here?” Uncle Mark smiled as he took a seat at the table. “this looks good enough to eat.”
“It is, I made it,” Josie teased as she set the fruitcake down on the table.
“Ahh, the it must be scrumptious. Your cooking always is.”
Aunt Josie brushed off his compliment, but Mary could tell she was pleased. “We need to hurry and eat before the others get here. Once they do it will be nothing but noise and chaos.” Aunt Josie announced as she set a cup of cocoa down in front of Mary.
Mary chuckled. It was clear by the look of anticipation on both her Aunt and Uncle’s face that neither of them would mind the noise or the chaos.Uncle Mark folded his hands, “well, what do you say we bless the food so that we can get it eaten before everyone else gets here?” The question was directed at Mary who smiled and nodded. A silence fell over the room as Uncle Mark led them in prayer.