Part 3 coming your way on the tenth day of Christmas!!. :)
The fire blazed cheerily as everyone gathered around in the living room. The Aunts and Uncles and all the cousins had arrived earlier in the day. Now, after the evening meal, they all sat around the the living room with the fire blazing cheerily.
Mary’s eyes scanned the living room for a brief second. Aunt Ellie sat on the corner of the couch, nestled comfortably up against Uncle Baker who had an arm around her. Aunt Nettie sat with Aunt Josie on the couch, both of them with knitting of some kind in their hands. Nettie's eyes lit up as she laughed at something Baker said. Uncle Mark sat in the room's only chair, deep in a conversation with the others.
On the floor near Uncle Mark’s chair, seven-year-old Esther and five-year-old Sadie played quietly with their dolls and Levi and Brian were thoroughly engrossed in the wooden train set that had been brought down from the attic. Four out of five. Mary looked around the room for Joseph, the youngest of her charges. How in the world does he disappear so fast?
“Oo wead me a book, Mawy?”
She turned, relieved to see Joseph standing next to her, a book in his hands.
“Of course I’ll read you a book, you dear.” she lifted him onto her lap and bent down and kissed his curls. “Let’s see, what book is this?”
“It the stowy about Mawy and Joseph and Christmas. Like us. My name is Joseph and you is Mawy.
Mary chuckled, "that’s true! Okay, let’s see.” She opened the book to the first page. “Can you tell me what’s happening in this picture?”
Joseph scrunched up his face, “dey awe widing a horse.”
“Donkey,” Mary corrected. “Mary is riding a donkey. See? They’re on their way to Bethlehem.” She turned the page. “And what’s happening here?”
“Dey awe in a bawn. And dere are de animals all ‘wound and de baby Jesus is sleeping in de hay.” Joseph pointed to the manger and then sat back, satisfied he had narrated it correctly.
Mary smiled, “you’re right. Now how about on this page?”
“On dis page de shepherds and de wise men all came and gave de baby Jesus presents on his birthday.”
“That’s right! See you read the book to me! I didn’t even have to read any of it.”
Joseph smiled, both of his adorable dimples making an appearance on his chubby face. “I can wead the pictures. I can wead them all to you.”
“Yes, you can. You’re getting to be such a big boy, aren’t you?”
Joseph nodded, “I be twee. When I be twee, then I be big.”
“I see that. Three is a bigger age then two, isn’t it? Well, since you’re a big boy, how about reading me another book?”
Joseph nodded and toddled over to bookshelf. At that moment, Brian started arguing with Levi and Mary walked over to the boys. "What happened with your train set, Brian?”
“Levi took my caboose. He won’t give it back.”
“No, it was mine, I had it first!”
Mary put out her hand, “give me the caboose.”
Levi looked up at her, “But--”
“No buts. The caboose, please.”
Levi frowned, but handed it to her.
“Thank you. Now I will keep it until little boys can learn to get along.”
“And speaking of getting along,” Uncle Mark’s voice filled the room and Mary turned as he stood up and addressed everyone. “The better you play together, the more likely it is that Santa will come. And remember, he can’t come until everyone is asleep.”
“Uncle Mark is right,” Baker’s eyes twinkled at the boys. “So why don’t we all go and get in bed.”
“Oh, I can take them, Uncle Baker.” Mary quickly added as he started to stand on his crutches.
He nodded and eased himself back down onto the couch. “You boys be good for Mary, you understand?” He leveled his gaze to Levi and Brian.
“Yes, papa.” They said together, nodding solemnly.
Mary held back her laughter; the twins never failed to amuse her. She picked up Joseph and turned to Aunt Josie. “The little girls will sleep with me and the boys are in the room with their parents, right?”
Aunt Josie smiled, "that's right. And little Joseph is sleeping with his mother, so just put him down on the bed in Nate’s room.”
Mary nodded, “all right, come on upstairs, guys. Oh, and don’t worry, Aunt Josie. I’ll come and put their toys away later.”
“No need,” Baker grinned and winked at Mary. “If you can handle the troublesome twins and my princess, I’ll be more then happy to pick up their toys.”
Mary laughed, “Thank you, Uncle Baker.” She turned and started up the stairs, the fours cousins following her. “Levi and Brian you two go and use the bathroom first. Get your teeth brushed and change into your pajamas. Esther and Sadie, you can go and play quietly in my room until they’re finished if you’d like.”
Both Sadie and Esther's eyes lit up as they took their dolls and headed into the room.
Levi frowned, “That’s not fair. Besides, I thought it was supposed to be ladies first.”
Mary bit her lip to keep from smiling, “normally it is, but not today. Now scoot.”
He muttered something under his breath, but followed Brian.
Mary opened the door to Nate’s room and set Joseph on the bed as she rummaged through the suitcase. “Okay, here are your Pj’s buddy. Can you take your shirt off for me?”
Joseph nodded and did his best to undress himself before Mary decided to take over. Soon he was snuggled into his pajamas and she pulled back the blanket on Nate’s bed. “Alright, climb in and when you get up in the morning, you can run downstairs and see what you got from Santa.”
“But we don’t celebrate only Santa on Christmas. Mamma said he’s not real. We really celebrate Jesus, right?”
Mary tucked the covers around his chin and nodded. “That’s right. He came to earth to save us, because we were sinners who couldn't save ourselves. Now, you go to sleep, okay?”
“Okay, Goodnight, Mawy”
Mary bent down and kissed his forehead. “goodnight, Jo.” She left the room and closed the door behind her.
The sound of water splashing in the bathroom made her roll her eyes. What trouble have they gotten into now?
She opened the bathroom door and a sudden silence fell over the room as two boys looked up at her with guilty faces. Neither of them were wearing their shirts and it was clear they had not been doing what she had asked.
“Would you like to tell me you two are up to?”
“We’re pretending we’re in the pacific ocean! See, my toothbrush is a submarine and it’s going to shoot Brian’s toothbrush. His is an enemy ship.”
“Why do I always have to be the enemy?” Brian’s lip stuck out and it looked as though he was close to pouting.
Mary surveyed the scene in front of her. The sink was filled with water and a large amount of it had sloshed to the floor. “Right now neither of you should be the ally or the enemy. You’re supposed to be getting ready for bed.” She reached into the cupboard and got a towel. “Get your shirts on and get in bed. Now.”
The boys nodded as they quickly threw on their shirts and then gathered their old clothes in their arms and trooped out of the bathroom.
Mary cleaned up the water that had spilled on the floor and emptied the sink. She hung the wet towel over the shower door, turned off the light and headed to her room. Esther and Sadie were sitting on the bed, both of them holding their dolls in their hands.
“Your turn in the bathroom now, girls," Mary said with a smile.
They both nodded and set down their dolls before taking their nightgowns and heading to the door. Taking advantage of the privacy, Mary quickly changed her clothes and then grabbed the flannel robe off the hook before heading towards the guest room to check on Levi and Brian. To her surprise, they both lay in the bed that had been put out for them, covers pulled up to their chins.
“You boys going to sleep?”
Levi nodded, “We want to wake up soon, so we decided we needed to go to sleep right away.”
Mary nodded, “that sounds like a good idea. I’ll see you tomorrow.
She closed the door and leaned against it for a moment, half expecting to hear them jump up and play. When they didn’t, she sighed and headed down the stairs.
“Are they all down, Mary?” Aunt Josie looked up as she entered the living room.
“All except the girls. They’re brushing their teeth. I’m going to head to bed with them, I wanted to tell you all goodnight.” She walked over to Aunt Josie, who set down her knitting to give her a hug. “Alright then, You have a good night's sleep.”
Mary smiled, “I will. Goodnight, all. Oh, and thank you again Uncle Baker for picking up the toys.”
He grinned, “you bet. How’d the boys do?”
“Well, aside from the bathroom becoming the pacific ocean and their toothbrushes submarines, they did pretty well.”
Aunt Ellie chuckled, “yeah, that sounds like them. I do declare, they never slow down. Thank you for taking them, Mary.”
Mary nodded before heading back up the stairs. Both Sadie and Esther were already in bed, and she smiled as she lay down between them. “Are you girls having fun so far?”
Esther nodded, her eyes twinkling, “I can’t believe we get to sleep with you. It’s like a sleepover.”
Sadie nodded in agreement.
Mary smiled, “Well I’m glad you could stay in my room with me. Since it’s a sleepover, is there anything you’d like to do before we go to sleep?”
“No, we wanted to go to sleep fast so tomorrow will be here soon.” Sadie reminded her.
“But can you sing us a song?” Esther asked. “I love Christmas songs!”
Mary nodded, “okay. What one would you like me to sing?”
“Oh, sing I’ll be home for Christmas! Please?” Esther begged.”It’s my favorite song because my daddy came home for Christmas, just like it says in the song! Please, sing the first verse for me.”
“Alright.” Mary lay down and tucked the blanket up over them and then softly began to sing.
I'll be home for Christmas.
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
As she finished, her eyes wandered out across the room to the window. The stars shone brightly and the knowledge that somewhere Nate was looking at the same stars made her smile. Yes, he was with them. Maybe not in person, but he was in their thoughts and prayers. She turned over and closed her eyes and soon slipped into the land of dreams.