Today’s prompt is to write a holiday-themed story. I’m a little crunched for time tonight (giving myself about 30 minutes to write this), so it is just a beginning.
The first Christmas Eve is an embarrassment of presents. The first grandchild is here. Adults outnumber children, even counting one teenage aunt and one teenage uncle as kids. Amongst the plastic, newborn toys are eight “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, handpainted on glass. Grandma found them to preserve this moment of change in the family.
The third Christmas Eve brings the sixth grandchild and the first grandson. The piles of presents separate in blues and pinks. Proud papa sleep deprived but strutting with his two girls and his son, dreaming of baseball games and lazy summers fishing.
The seventh Christmas Eve really starts to stick in the memory. The three bedroom house hugs in twelve grandchildren and their squeals as they run around to play with their cousins. Their grandson is told the next baby is a boy, so he only has a few months of being the only one. The magic of Santa is fading from the oldest’s eyes, but they still believe when Grandpa comes bearing gifts in his red suit and slipping beard.
The eleventh Christmas Eve was full of song. Grandma’s angelic voice led them all through her favorite carols while the mothers sweat over the stove to finish the meal. The boys have disappeared to play at something else in the backyard, and the men are making sure their football team isn’t screwing up.
The fourteenth Christmas Eve brings the last grandchild. Twenty-four happy faces. Mostly happy faces. The oldest slides up to the adult table, listening. Always curious. The other teenaged girls are whispering about boys in the backroom. The boys play the rescued arcade games. The dads still armchair coach, and the moms still cook. Santa still brings presents, and the older, wiser grandkids smile knowingly, choosing not to ruin it for the little ones.
The twenty-fourth Christmas Eve brings the first great-grandchild and the first spouse. A change sooner than expected. The presents still pile high, and the ornaments, plastic and mass-produced, proclaim baby’s first Christmas.
The twenty-seventh Christmas Eve is the one where Grandma tells each person that she has Alzheimer’s, and tells them again within an hour. Her edge is gone, and she smiles and sings like there is no pain, no worry in her disease.
The thirtieth Christmas Eve is the last one with Grandma. She hugs each of her well-loved grandchildren close and gives her ten great-grandchildren thousands of kisses. The family gathers after food to sing all together for what they don’t know will be the last time.
The thirty-first Christmas Eve is hard. The house feels empty though it has never been more full.