“Christmas is coming, Grandma!” Nolan grabbed my still-gloved hand and pulled me toward the kitchen.
“You’re right, Nolan. Christmas IS coming! Isn’t that exciting? I’ll come with you as soon as I get out of my coat and boots.” Nolan danced around in circles waiting impatiently for my full attention. Meanwhile his mother filled me in.
“He wants to show you our countdown to Christmas. He’s been gluing a cotton ball on Santa’s beard every night in December –just one to go. Right, Nolan? Then Christmas will be here.”
The two year old squealed uncontrollably and we laughed. “Christmas will be at our house. Did Mommy tell you that?”
“Uh-huh. And Uncle Todd and Aunt…” he looked to his mom for help.
“Aunt Kristen, remember?” She turned her attention to me. “I’ve been showing him pictures from their wedding last summer, in hopes he’ll warm up to her right away.”
I smiled at the mention of our delightful new daughter-in-law, Kristen. Todd had experienced much sorrow in recent years, but with Kristen as his wife joy had finally arrived, along with a bounce in his step. I couldn’t wait to have them home for the first year as a married couple. I was a little nervous as well. Kristen was southern born and raised. She wasn’t accustomed to cold, snowy winters. Her family traditions and tastes in food were no doubt different, too. Would she feel at home with our family?
“Grandma-a-a!” Nolan’s tug nearly pulled my stocking feet out from under me this time, so I snapped to attention.
“Yes, sir! Where is this Santa Claus with the cotton ball beard?”
Since I had only stopped by to drop off a gift, I gave my grandson his needed attention, then bundled up again and headed home to finish final preparations. Todd and Kristen would arrive any time now, and the rest of the family would be home tomorrow. What a joyous Christmas it would be!
Todd and Kristen arrived, laden with luggage and packages. We exchanged hugs and pleasantries, arranged the packages under the tree, stayed up too late talking, and finally fell into bed.
After breakfast the next morning, our youngest son and his wife made their entrance with their two dogs in tow. They added more gifts to the growing mountain under the tree. Just as they finished, the door opened once more and Nolan burst in, babbling with anticipation just ahead of his parents–until he saw Kristen, that is. A sudden wave of shyness overcame him, and he took turns clinging to the legs of each of the family members he knew, all the while eyeing Kristen with interest. She smiled, wiggled her fingers in greeting, and motioned for him to come, all to no avail.
Thirty minutes passed before Nolan began using a couch pillow to play peek-a-boo with his new aunt. After several rounds of silence followed by bursts of laughter he finally approached her. “Hi Christmas,” he said coyly.
“Did he just say…”
I interrupted Nolan’s dad, putting my finger to my lips. “Isn’t that precious?” I whispered. “He called her Christmas.”
“Did y’all tell him to call me that?” Kristen inquired in her endearing drawl. She was clearly charmed.
“Read me bunny book, Christmas,” Nolan begged, “pleeeeze!”
“Nolan, it’s Aunt Kristen, not Christmas.” His dad may as well have spoken to the turkey waiting on the counter to be stuffed. Christmas she was, and nobody was going to change his mind. We could only suppose that counting the days until Christmas arrived held an entirely different meaning for Nolan than the one intended.
We continued through the day with our family traditions of reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter two and singing carols about baby Jesus, the shepherds and the wise men. Seated on Kristen’s lap, Nolan joined in with Silent Night and Away in a Manger, often looking up into her eyes, seeking her approval. We ended by kneeling and taking turns offering our prayers for country, friends and loved ones, and each other. Kristen fit right in, taking part in all of it. At dinnertime Nolan led her to the chair next to his. She raved about the food and seemed tickled with Nolan’s chatter.
Finally, the day came to an end and Nolan began saying his goodbyes. He offered a hug to each of us. Then he turned to Kristen. “Merry Christmas, Christmas!”
I could tell Christmas felt right at home.
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