How can a person not be excited about Christmas when their name is Natalie?
My name means “born on Christmas day” but I was really born on November 25. Both my mother and my father loved Christmas just as much as I do and most of my siblings have Christmas themed names. We keep up our decorations and a gold, fake Christmas tree all year long. In my house, it’s basically Christmas every day minus the presents.
Some of you may have already read a story that I previously wrote. In that story, I chronicled a year and a half of my life. In that year and a half, I moved from Miami, Florida to Florida, Massachusetts, I discovered that my father was basically murdered, my mom got remarried and I got two older sisters, my older sister, Abby, got married, we moved to New York City, my mother faced her past and I got two more older siblings–this time a brother and a sister,I became a paraplegic, we moved back to Florida, Massachusetts, my mother had triplets, and my older sister, Jaci, got married.
It was a rather busy year and a half, and life didn’t stop moving fast just because I felt like I needed a break.
The summer I wrote that story, I met the girl who asked me to write it. Her name is Charlotte Lily King, but almost everyone calls her Charlly. She just happened to be the stepdaughter of one of Mr. Stewart’s nephews. She also just happened to be moving to Florida, Massachusetts and be a paraplegic. Charlly moved in with me and my family since there is really no other wheelchair friendly house in Florida. While I would like to write about Charlly’s move to Florida and all the craziness her life brought, that’s Charlly’s story to tell. All you need to know is that her stepdad’s name is Laz, Charlly’s biological father’s name is ‘Lou’, Charlly has a younger sister named Becca Lou, a half brother named Jacob or ‘Mini-Lou’ as she likes to call him, and a stepbrother named Matt.
Life did start to slow down a little only to get more crazy. Then the craziest of all seasons arrived. Christmas.
As you can probably guess, Christmas is a big deal in my family and this Christmas would be particularly special. It would be the first we would spend at our new home, Drury Hall, and it would also be the triplet’s first Christmas. My mother invited every one in our family to come even my grandparents, who live in England. She was determined to make this Christmas special.
But this Christmas would be special and would be remembered for different reasons than what everyone had in mind. This Christmas would prove that there was still good in the world and that miracles really do happen.
And that hope helps bind us all together.
“Natalie?” My mother asked walking into my bedroom. “Do you know where I placed the ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornaments?I bought three for the triplets in September and now I can’t find them.”
“I haven’t seen them,” I said without taking my eyes off the sky. The weathermen had said there was a good chance that we would get a fresh snow this weekend and I desperately wanted to go sledding.
“Did you hear a word I said?” Momma asked.
“You asked if I had seen the triplets Christmas ornaments,” I said pulling my eyes away from the window and onto my mother. “I’ve never seen them in my life.”
My mother gave a mixture between a snort and a laugh and walked towards the door.
“Steve! Have you seen Avery, Love, and Emanuel’s ornaments?”
“It feels like snow!” Charlly squealed as she rolled into my–our bedroom. Charlly had opted to room with Noel and I. The experience was…interesting. Life left like one big sleepover with Charlly living in the house.
“You’re becoming a true Floridian,” I smiled. Charlly laughed.
“I can’t believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away,” Charlly said more to the window than to me.
“Why not? It surely feels like Christmas in this household,” I said.
“It feels like Christmas, but it just isn’t,” Charlly answered.
“How is that possible?” I asked.
“I just have this feeling,” Charlly trailed off.
“What kind of feeling?” I asked.
“It’s probably nothing,” Charlly said shaking her head. “Forget I ever said anything.”
“Charlly, if something is bothering you…,” I started.
“Charlly,” Momma said interupting me, “have you seen three ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornaments?”
“I thought I saw the new ones on the tree this morning,” Charlly said. Momma leaned against the door post and put her hand to her head.
“Forgive me, girls,” Momma said. “Christmas always gets me out of sorts. But I still love the season!”
“Let’s go to the B&B,” Charlly said before I can bring our previous subject back up. “The boys are about to return with the Christmas tree any moment now.”
“What happened in here?” I asked as Charlly and I rolled into the restaurant. The entire room was covered with tinsel.
“This is what you get when you give a four year old a box of tinsel,” Lou said as he started to clean up the mess.
“Why does that not surprise me?” Charlly asked as she pulled some tinsel through her wheel.
“I got this mess here. Why don’t you help Donna get ready for the tree?” Lou said taking the tinsel from Charlly.
“How come you didn’t go on the tree chopping trip?” I asked Lou.
“Don’t really my kind of thing,” Lou shrugged.
“Translation: Lou is lousy with a saw,” Charlly said.
“What can I say?” Lou asked. “Give me a saw and lose your eye.”
“Ok…,” I said. I quickly rolled into the family room.
“Where’s all the tinsel?” Ms. Donna asked as she rummaged through her box of Christmas decorations.
“Strewn all over your restaurant,” Charlly answered. She sent Jacob a look.
“Here!” Lou shouted. He threw some tinsel from the restaurant into the foyer.
“Oh my goodness,” Ms. Donna said as she walked towards the restaurant.
“We’re BACK!” Mr. Drew shouted as he and the rest carried the tree into the restaurant!
“We saw some flurries on our way back,” Darcy said as he helped up the tree in the holder.
Charlly squealed and rolled to the window.
“It’s snowing!” Charlly shouted.
“Someone’s excited,” Leo laughed. Charlly smacked him and Leo smirked.
I guess I should tell you this now in the story rather than later. Leo and Virginia ‘broke’ up this summer after Charlly came to town. Leo started liking Charlly and ever since their relationship has been…complicated. Also, Virginia refuses to speak to Charlly. Virginia hasn’t spoken a word to her since August.
“You guys can go play in the snow after we finish putting up the tree,” Charlly’s mom, Mrs. Jennifer Gray-Stewart, said as she hung the first ornament on the tree.
Soon everyone was busy hanging ornaments and stringing tinsel around the tree. By the time we’re finished, the ground was covered in snow, but sadly not enough to have impromptu sledding day.
“We’ll just have to have a Marshmallow Day tomorrow,” Darcy said as Charlly and I prepared to go home.
“Tomorrow,” I promised. “We’ll go to The Hill straight after school.”
Darcy nodded and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.
“We might come for dinner,” I said. “Momma’s been a little frazzled lately.”
“Understandable with the triplets and you to take care of,” Darcy said. I shoved him just as Charlly rolled up.
“I’m not even going to ask,” Charlly said as she rolled out the door.
“Bye,” I waved as I too rolled out the door.
“I really hope it keeps snowing,” Charlly said. “I really want to sled on the legendary Hill.”
“From the looks of it, tomorrow is going to be an awesome snow day,” I said looking at the clouds.
We would never get to go to sledding on The Hill the entire winter season.
The day started off wrong.
The triplets woke up around five A.M. screaming their lungs off and waking everybody up, snow had turned into rain, I woke up with an upset stomach, Noel had slept in the panic room and refused to come out, and Charlly didn’t speak a word the entire morning.
I could tell that she could feel it too.
Something terrible was going to happen.
By the time lunch came around, I was just about a nervous wreck. I kept telling myself that nothing that bad could possibly happen, but my emotions wouldn’t listen.
I was just about ready to snap when I saw Darcy leaning against a red trashcan, waiting for me and other friends to show up for lunch. I don’t know why it bothered me so much that Darcy leaned up against that silly trashcan. All I know is on that rainy December day, it infuriated me.
“Why do you lean up against the trash?” Those were the first words out of my mouth when I rolled up to him.
“I don’t know…,” Darcy stared at me. I could tell that he was caught off guard by the question.
“It’s disgusting!” I shouted.
“What?” Darcy asked. “Natalie, where is all of this coming from? You’ve been on edge all morning.”
“I just think that its a little disgusting that you’re leaning up against a trashcan!”
“It’s not like people barfed in it!”
“You don’t know that!”
“Fine!” Darcy shouted throwing his hands up in the air. “I’ll move!”
Just seconds after Darcy stepped away from the trashcan, the trashcan exploded, sending fire and something hard onto my face.