This morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise, it had snowed. And it was one of those good snows. It was still snowing now and I was determined to make a Marshmallow World Day out of it.
I was about to ask the very important question of going to The Hill when Virginia walked up to take our orders.
Momma insisted that everyone order before her because she didn’t know what she wanted. Virginia gave me a look that only I understood.
“I’ll have one order of pancakes, one order of waffles, one order of French toast. two biscuits, three…no four servings of bacon, and I’m craving some blueberries. Do you have any?” Momma asked. Virginia didn’t answer at first. She had a huge smirk on her face.
“No, but we do have blueberry jam,” Virginia said.
“That will have to do,” Momma said handing Virginia her menu. Virginia winked at me and walked towards the kitchen.
Daddy looked at Momma but he didn’t say anything.
“Can I go to The Hill?” I asked.
“Sure, I don’t see why not,” Daddy said before Momma could say no.
“Really?” I asked. I gave Daddy a hug.
“I don’t know, Steve,” Momma said with worry on her face.
“We’ll be there,” Daddy said.
“But we’ll be watching Megan and Bella,” Momma said.
“Yule and Darcy will look after her,” Daddy said. “She’ll be fine. She can go.”
Daddy said the last part with authority. Momma gave up her fight and started to complain about how long it was taking the food. And when the food came, she complained that she was only given three servings of bacon not four.
“You’re getting heavy,” Darcy said as he carried me back up The Hill. I smiled. Today has been a perfect day. I sledded with just about everybody but mostly with Darcy. The plan was that Darcy would carry me up The Hill on his back while I carried the sled in my hand. It was awkward but I wasn’t complaining.
“The only thing that could make this day better is if it was Christmas,” I said when we got back to the top of The Hill.
“It’s been that perfect, huh?” Darcy asked. “Then I guess carrying you up The Hill a hundred times was worth it.”
I smiled at him and the sled started to go down The Hill. Then we crashed, and Darcy landed on top of me. I started to laugh. This was our first crash of the day.
Then I felt Darcy’s cold nose against my nose. Darcy leaned towards me and this time I was sure I wasn’t imagining it. Then a scream filled the air. It sounded like Noel.
Darcy jerked his head up, and I couldn’t help but let a small frown cross my lips.
That sounded like Bennet. Noel was in labor.
Darcy picked me up and put me on his back. He ran up The Hill as fast as he could.
As we got closer to the top, I could hear Noel screaming like crazy. I felt sorry for her. No thirteen year old should experience that kind of pain.
“I’ll take her from here,” Yule said picking me up off Darcy’s back. Yule put me in the car.
“You ok?” I asked Noel who was sitting in the car screaming her head off. Noel looked at me. Ok, I know that was a stupid question.
“Do look ok!?” Noel shouted. Noel started to calm down. I guess the contraction stopped.
“I can’t find Bella!” Momma screamed. Bella ran up The Hill with Rachel by her side.
“Hey! I want to go too!” Grandma Shirley whined.
Soon everyone was in the car and we were off.
By the way Daddy was acting you would have thought Momma was the one having the baby. First he drove off in the wrong direction. When Momma corrected him, he got on the highway and passed the hospital exit. We had to turn around and then Daddy went to the cancer center instead of the hospital. A trip to the hospital that should have been no more than twenty minutes took thirty. Then he nearly blacked out when we walked into the hospital.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Noel had the baby two hours later.
“That’s the prettiest little baby girl I’ve ever delivered,” Dr. Walters smiled. “And I’m not just saying that because she’s family.”
“I’m way too young to be a great-grandmother,” Grandma Shirley said, “but she’s so cute I don’t mind.”
Noel couldn’t stop smiling. My little niece started to cry, and Noel didn’t seem to care.
“What are you going to name her?” Momma asked taking to baby out of Noel’s arms and trying to calm her down.
“Can’t be two Natalie’s so… Natalia!” Noel shouted. I felt honored.
“You wanna hold her?” Momma asked. I nodded.
“Hi, Natalia, I’m your auntie,” I cooed.
I was wrong. There really was something besides Christmas that could make this day better.
Since Natalia was born on the Eve of Christmas Eve, the hospital let Noel and Natalia come home on Christmas Eve.
Daddy, Darcy, Nelson, and Yule went to go get a tree from an actual forest. While the rest of us got out the many Christmas decorations.
“Hey, this isn’t ours,” Regina said pulling out an old looking wreath.
“Our wreath!” I cried. Regina handed the wreath to me.
The wreath had been here in Florida the entire time. I hadn’t even thought about it when we moved to New York City, but now it all made sense. New York City wasn’t home. Florida was and would always be.
Momma looked thoughtfully at the wreath. She unconsciously let her hand slip to her belly. I think I was the only one who noticed this since everybody was cooing over Natalia, who was just waking up.
“We’re back!” Daddy shouted. Yule and Darcy dragged the tree into the house.
“Oh! You’re getting pine needles everywhere, Yule!” Grandma Shirley complained.
Yule rolled his eyes. Grandma Shirley looked shocked.
“Humph!” Grandma Shirley said. She took one look at Natalia and started cooing over her.
Grandma Shirley held her tongue until it was time to put decorations on the tree.
“No, that doesn’t belong there,” Grandma Shirley said to Mrs. Stewart.
“What’s wrong with putting Natalia’s first Christmas ornament up there?” Mrs. Stewart asked pointing to the spot she was going to put the ornament.
“It should be on the bottom of the tree closer to where Natalia can see it,” Grandma Shirley said.
“Natalia won’t remember where the ornament was, but we will!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.
“Who is Natalia’s great-grandmother?” Grandma Shirley screamed.
“Stop!” Noel shouted.
“I’m her stepgrandmother!” Mrs. Stewart screamed.
“Stop!” Noel shouted but neither Grandma Shirley nor Mrs. Stewart paid her any attention.
“Please stop. You’re upsetting Noel!” Yule shouted.
“Shut up, you!” Grandma Shirley shouted at Yule.
“Don’t you talk to my son that way!” Momma shouted. Grandma Shirley burst out crying.
“You didn’t have to leave!” Grandma Shirley cried. “If you would have just told me what happened…I admit I might not have seem as loving but…I had high expectations of you. You had something special. You had this drive. You seemed to just be able to handle anything. I didn’t think that you needed all that extra loving and hugs and kisses. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Yule and Noel too. I’ve been resenting you. I felt like you took my daughter away from me but that’s not true.”
“It’s all right, Grandma,” Yule shrugged. Grandma Shirley started to weep and hugged Noel.
“Ah!” Noel screamed. She pushed Grandma Shirley away. She put Natalia in Grandma Shirley’s arms and all was forgiven.
The doorbell rang.
“Who is that?” Momma asked walking towards the door.
Grandpa Baldwin, Grandma Baldwin, Aunt Cerys, and Aunt Louise walked into the family room.
“Natalie!” Aunt Cerys shouted. She ran and gave me a hug.
“And this must be Natalia,” Grandma Baldwin cooed looking at Grandma Shirley. Grandma Shirley put Natalia in Grandma Baldwin’s arms.
“What are you guys doing here?” Momma asked walking into the family room.
“We came to surprise you,” Grandpa Baldwin said. “We couldn’t think of a better Christmas gift for our granddaughter.”
I smiled. Grandpa and Grandma Baldwin came and gave me a hug.
Soon everyone was talking and decorating the tree. I couldn’t help but smile. This was turning out to be a great Christmas.
I yawned. It was close to eleven o’clock and It’s a Wonderful Life had just gone off. Everyone else had already gone to bed, and Momma was the first to go. Daddy was the only one who stayed up with me.
“Daddy,” I said as Daddy turned off the TV and lights, “who’s in your family?”
After Grandma Shirley’s breakdown, I started to seriously ponder that question. What does the word family mean? Who’s in my family?
“You, Yule, Noel, Megan, Bella, Jaci, Abby, your mother,” Daddy started. “Grandma Shirley” He wiggled his eye brows and I laughed. “Grandpa Jack, your aunts and your uncles, Mrs. Rivers, Mr. Rivers, the twins, Jessie-Maria, Aunt Jane, Virginia, Rachel, Andrew, Caroline, Zach, Timmy, Bennet, Ms. Donna, Cece Elizabeth, Darcy, Mrs. Stewart, Emily, and just about everybody else in Florida!”
“That’s a mighty big family,” I said as Daddy carried me up the steps.
“Natalie, family isn’t just someone you’re related to by blood,” Daddy said. “Family is a person you deeply care about and love.”
“And what does home mean to you?” I asked. Daddy stopped walking and paused on the steps.
“Home is wherever my family is,” Daddy said. Then realization sunk in.
“I guess our family is spilt up, huh?” Daddy asked. I gave him a sad nod.
“So where would you like to sleep tonight?” Daddy asked. “With your mother and I or with Noel and Natalia.”
Natalia cried out.
“With your mom and me,” Daddy stated. I nodded.
As Daddy carried me into the room, I saw out of the corner of my eye Bennet stumble into Noel’s room. I couldn’t help but smile.
I woke up at eight A.M. on Christmas morning. I could hear Megan screaming for somebody to wake me up. I heard what sounded like two little feet and one set of huge feet walk up the steps. Then Megan, Bella, and Yule walked through the door.
“You’re up!” Megan screamed. Bella smiled at me and handed me a flower.
“Thank you,” I smiled as Yule carried me downstairs.
Everyone sat around the Christmas tree. Bennet was cradling Natalia, and Noel was smiling at him. Momma and Daddy were sitting on the couch. I noticed at Momma’s stomach looked a little bit bigger, but I could have been imagining it.
“Wait,” Daddy said as Megan started to open one of her gifts. “I think Natalie should open the first gift.”
“I agree,” Grandma Shirley said. She picked up a box and handed it to me.
“It’s from the entire Walters’ family,” Grandpa Jack said. I smiled and opened the present.
“It’s a camera,” I smiled. Momma laughed as she took a picture of the camera.
“Look inside the box,” Aunt Clarisse said mysteriously.
I opened the box and inside was a broacher for Paris, France and inside the broacher there was a voucher.
“Redeemable for one week in France!” I shouted reading the voucher.
“I’m taking the entire Matthews’ family on my yearly trip to France!” Grandma Shirley shouted. Abby started to scream.
“Here,” Daddy said handing a card to Yule. Megan pouted.
“You want to adopt Noel and me?” Yule asked.
“Only if you want me to,” Daddy said. “I mean we’ve started the process but if you don’t want me to…”
“No, it’s ok,” Yule smiled. “I’d like that.”
Soon all the presents where open or so we thought.
“There’s one card and nine gifts hidden way behind the tree,” Daddy said pulling them out. He handed the gifts to Yule, Noel, Abby, Bella, Jaci, Megan, Grandpa and Grandma Baldwin, Grandpa and Grandma Walters, and me. He kept the card for himself.
Momma stood in front of all of us with the camera. I could tell that she was taking a video because the red light was on.
I opened my presents and found three pacifiers. Huh?
Then all of a sudden Noel started to scream and jump up in down. She was waving a piece of paper in her hand. Momma was laughing her head off.
I started to look around. Yule looked very confused as he held up three bibs. Abby and Zach were pondering over three baby bottles. Grandma Shirley was having trouble opening her gift. Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin looked at the book that was there present with pride and joy. Jaci sat there with three spools of yarn and three pairs knitting needles. Daddy sat there smiling. I didn’t get the connection until I saw Megan’s gift.
“I didn’t ask for any clothes,” Megan pouted. She held up a shirt that said BIG SISTER!
Abby, Jaci, and I started to scream. Noel handed me the piece of paper in her hand, but before I could read it Grandma Shirley started to scream.
“My baby girl is having a baby!” Grandma Shirley screamed. She held up a photo album with an ultrasound photo on it.
“So Virginia was right,” I said out loud.
“Riley, I don’t get this card,” Daddy said.
He passed the card around. It said “We’re going to need a bigger car!” and the ultrasound photo was underneath it.
“We can fit one more in our car,” Daddy said.
Momma smiled a sly smile.
“Gather round,” Momma said. Everyone but Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin gathered around.
“There’s the head,” Momma pointed out on the ultrasound photo. “Then there’s his…or hers shoulders. There’s the head. Then there’s his…or hers shoulders. Then there’s another head and another set of shoulders.”
“Wait…you just said head and shoulders three times,” Daddy said.
“EEEE!” Grandma Baldwin shouted. She held up a book called How to Be the Godparents of Triplets.
I laughed as Daddy sat there lifeless looking. It turns out that Momma was thirteen weeks along and had been hiding her humongous baby bump by wearing body shapers and layering up.
“I just found out it was triplets this week,” Momma said. “I knew I was pregnant back in November but I had a feeling there might be more than one in there after stepping on the scale!”
What could make this Christmas better?
It took us three minutes to decide to tell them by taking a picture with my new camera and asking everybody to say: Riley’s having triplets!
So when the Rivers’ and Powers’ came for dinner we were ready.
“Say: Riley’s having triplets!” Daddy shouted after he set up the timer.
Jessie-Maria screamed and hugged Yule. Aunt Jane dropped Caroline, but Andrew caught Caroline. Mr. and Mrs. Rivers smiled and laughed and then started to give multiple tips like computers. When Rachel found out that triplets meant three babies, she started to scream. But Virginia’s reaction was priceless.
First Virginia started to scream, then she started to cry, and finally she fainted. Her face in the picture is a cross between happy and sad. She is also tumbling towards the floor.
“I didn’t know!” I shouted when Virginia came too. She was giving me accusing looks.
“Sure,” Virginia said rolling her eyes as Mr. Hank helped her towards the kitchen. I think to this day Virginia doesn’t believe me.
But dinner was even better than Virginia’s reaction.
“We have announcement to make,” Daddy said when everyone had finished eating. Virginia looked at me and I shrugged.
“We’re moving back to Florida!” Momma shouted.
“Joy to the world!” Virginia shouted standing up. “The Matthews’ are moving back!” She soon sat down looking embarrassed.
“We have something to say!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “Jack’s retiring!”
Everyone started to congratulate Grandpa Jack.
“And we’re moving to North Adams!” Grandma Shirley shouted.
“You are…,” I said.
“Speaking of announcements,” Mr. Hank said standing up and thankfully changing the subject. He got down on one knee.
“This really isn’t an announcement. It’s more of a question, but um will you Jane Powers marry me Hank Moore?” Mr. Hank asked Aunt Jane.
Aunt Jane screamed and then very tearfully said yes.
“I’m so full,” Darcy said as he pushed me towards the family room. Everyone else was cleaning up dishes in the kitchen.
I looked up and saw that we were under the mistletoe.
Darcy leaned in and gave me a kiss…on the lips…and it wasn’t a peck. 🙂
Best. Christmas. Ever.