Hey everyone! Merry Christmas Eve! :D I had a slight change of plans so Christmas Homecoming will now be in three parts, the ending of it included in tomorrow's post. :) Here it is! Hope you enjoy! :D
“Oh, there you are!” Olivia, James’ mother, rushed towards the couple with an assault of hugs and warmth the moment they entered the door. “Thank heavens, you're safe. I was about convinced the truck had slid off the bridge and you were at the bottom of that dreadful river.”
Emma returned her mother-in-law’s hug with a brief apology over being late and, insisting James was to blame, slipped into the kitchen to deposit her food contributions.
Mrs. Olivia tossed instructions on how to warm up the casserole as she hung her daughter-in-law’s coat on the rack and turned on James who stood just inside the door.
When she reached up to hug her son, Olivia spied the lumpy form in the front of his coat and jumped back with a yelp.
James laughed as he made his way to the couch and sat down. He set his crutches aside and began unbuttoning his coat. “Goodness, Mom, it's only Jamie!”
“Oh, good heavens, son.” Olivia clasped her hand over her heart. “What a way to carry a child!”
James grinned as he sat Jamie on the couch next to him and removed both their coats. “Aww, it's alright, Mom. Em and I are both learning new ways to do things.” He looked up just as his wife appeared in the kitchen doorway. The smile on her face told him she had stepped in in time to hear his words.
Because of the war their lives as individuals and the life they were building together was forever changed. They were adapting, learning to function as a family in new and different ways. They would never completely heal from the heartache the war had brought into their lives, but maybe that was for the better. What was the point of a trial if it didn't change and strengthen you? There would still be many tough days ahead, but James knew in his heart they would be alright. They had God in their midst.
A buzzing noise sounded from the general direction of the kitchen. Henry, James’ father, peeked out from behind his Bible in his rocker near the fireplace.
Emma winced at the persistent ring-a-linging. “Umm, that's why I came in here, Olivia. Molly said she isn't sure if that timer was for the pie in the oven or the greens on the stovetop.”
“Oh dear,” Olivia flapped her hand towards Emma. “That girl is such a daydreamer; I'm never for certain that she's even listening to me. I'll be right there to take care of it,” she concluded with a nod, and Emma ducked back into the kitchen.
James’ mother stepped toward the couch and kissed both his and Jamie's cheeks before skittering off the kitchen, calling over her shoulder for James to join his father near the fireplace. As if he was going to freeze to death sitting a mere three or four yards away from the blaze.
Before James could decide whether or not to be obedient, a dark curly head appeared from the kitchen, belonging to a jitterbugging teenager in a red polka dot dress.
“There's my favorite little munchkin!” Molly, James’ sixteen year-old sister, declared as she came swooping in and held out her arms to Jamie.
“Auntie Oll!” the toddler squealed. He bounced on the couch and clapped his hands until she scooped him up.
Chattering to Jamie, Molly started back towards the kitchen without a word to her brother.
“Well! Now I see how it is,” James leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest.
Molly stopped and turned back, grinning mischievously. “Hi there. Say, you look familiar, stranger. What's your name again?”
He rolled his eyes. “Love you too, sis.”
“Oh my!” Molly leaned her head against Jamie's, a dreamy look glazing over her eyes. “And now this dashing stranger has the nerve to profess his love at our first meeting.”
With dramatic grace, she twirled and fell to her knees next to her father's rocker, somehow managing to hold Jamie upright on her hip. “Oh, Papa, whatever should I do?”
Henry’s teasing eyes met James and he winked before turning to answer his youngest. “I don't know what you're going to do, Oll, but I think the rest of us need to ship you off to Hollywood or Broadway.”
“Broadway!” Molly squealed. “Did you hear that Jamie-boy? I'm going to being a famous actress! I'll let you all come to my performances and–”
“Dinner is ready!” The call came from the kitchen, interrupting Molly’s proclaimation. “Come on, y'all, let's eat!”
James grabbed his crutches, stood, and started for the kitchen. Henry and Molly followed, with Jamie in tow.
After a bountiful meal prepared by the ladies, the family exchanged small, but meaningful gifts around the Christmas tree. The clock on the mantle struck nine, nine-thirty, and ten, and no mention was made of James and Emma heading for home.
Gathered around the fireplace, the family told stories of past Christmases, laughing and smiling over the memories. A few tears were shed over the absence of Titus, but for the most part the family was content in the hope and steadfast in the faith that they would see their son and brother again.
Emma sighed as she settled against James shoulder. The setting in this room was so peaceful with the fireplace crackling and the lovely Christmas tree decorating the other side of the room, obscuring the view of the doorway.
She sat next to James on the couch by the fireplace, holding his hand and soaking up his missed presence. The family’s guiding light and inspiration to keep pushing on, Olivia and Henry, sat across from them in the rockers. Molly sat on the floor between them with Jamie on her lap. The later it got, the more the little boy’ eyelids drooped.
Talk lessened and a blissful quiet filled the room.mFor right now, everything was alright in Emma's world. With so much warmth and love in this room, closing her eyes she...could almost...fall asleep…
A knocking noise resounded through the house, disrupting the near-perfect setting.
Startled, Emma's eyes popped open and she sat up.
Molly turned from her position on the floor and looked towards the front door, as if she could see through the wood and know who was standing there. “Want me to get it, Dad?”
“Thanks, sweetie, but I'll go,” Henry stood and ambled around the Christmas tree and through the entryway to the door.
Olivia hoped up and quickly followed him. Emma didn't need to ask to know what the older woman was thinking – news on Titus. And less than an hour until Christmas Day too. Please Lord, let it be good.
His nap interrupted by the unknown visitor, Jamie began to squirm on Molly’s lap. “Aww, did you get woke up, darling?” She stood and brought him to his parents, setting him next to James. The little boy crawled into his father's lap, eyes heavy, and was soon asleep again.
“Who would come calling on Christmas Eve night?” Molly wondered aloud, still gazing in the direction her parents had gone.
“Maybe it's your beau,” James teased, eyebrows wiggling. “Bout time I met him anyway.”
“Very funny, J,” Molly grumbled, crossing her arms and peeking past the tree. “I wonder–”
“No, I'm serious! This is a very important matter.”
Emma snickered as she glanced up to see how her sister-in-law was enduring the teasing. Her eyes widened when she saw large tears sliding from Molly’s eyes as she continued looking past the Christmas tree to the entryway.
“What was his name again? Robert, was it?” James was still going on about Molly’s non-existent beau as he situated Jamie against his shoulder.
“Sweetheart…” Emma elbowed him and he glanced at her, eyes filling with concern as he followed her nod towards Molly.
“Sis, what's wrong?”
*beams* Wasn't it sweet of me to leave you there?! *inserts halo emoji*
I'm also throwing in the link to my one-shot Christmas Eve story from last year, in case you wanna, ya know, read it again or something...if you're extremely bored...or whatever. XD Blessed by the Light
Other stops in the linkup...
And two links didn't get added to my post until yesterday afternoon, so here they are again. :) Dotn want anyone to miss out!
Merry Christmas everyone!