All Decked Out!The roar of the vacuum stopped. Samantha trundled it to the closet and then stood at my elbow. “Can we talk before you take me home?”
“May we? Of course.” I scanned her face. Worry tucked her fair brows together and my heart clenched.
Her eyes were starting to fill. “How do you do Christmas without your husband? I mean…I miss Mom…”
Tears rolled down her cheeks as my throat tightened. The fact was, I didn’t do Christmas very well since Tom’s death. Reaching out, I gathered Samantha in. The small shoulders shook with sobs as my own tears overflowed and dropped into her curls.
Her whispered words said it all. “This is my third Christmas since—It’s not getting easier.”
My heart clenched around my own grief. “It’s my second and I know what you mean, but you kids helped me this time.” I wiped at a tear that had dripped to the end of my nose. “Listening to the boys fuss over crayons and snuggling with the twins helped."
“I’m sorry your Christmas bell got broken.”
My hand rose before I thought and wiped her tears, too. “It’s okay. I’m glad none of the kids got hurt.”
Samantha hunched her shoulders then let them fall. “I want to get Miss Cherie something. I saved a little bit from my allowance. It’s not much.” She tried to keep her tear-streaked face from blooming with hope, but it was a lost cause. “Mom never bought any presents, so I don’t know how.”
I bit my lip. What mother didn’t buy her child presents? A drug addled one.
“I think I can help with that because there will be presents this year.” I smiled. “I know just the place. Why don’t we shop a little on the way home. The dollar store had a lot of coloring books. That’ll take care of the boys. How about a big piece puzzle for the girls. They had them too.” And I’d make sure some of the presents had her name on them.
“Oh! Miss Laura Grace! Thank you.” Her reddened eyes were beginning to twinkle. “Could we get a hat and scarf for Miss Cherie? She doesn’t have any.”
“Sounds good. Let’s go shopping.”
Sipping hot tea as I lay back in the recliner, I smiled. Samantha’s shopping trip had taken the edge off the bittersweet feeling Christmas had folded about me. Dollar stores were underrated. Five gifts for five dollars and tax had to be a record. The creamy white scarf and hat had included a pair of gloves. The fleece was soft and would look good with any coat Cherie wore them with. And it had been half price.
A fuzzy, yellow head nosed its way into the living room. I chuckled as Sunshine stopped with one foot inside. The deep sniffing breaths were audible at my chair. “They’re gone, little boy. It’s safe.” Golden eyes took in the room then the cat crept along the carpet sniffing every inch where the boys had colored. Standing on his hind legs, Sunshine inspected the sofa.
I laughed as the inspector began on my recliner. “See. All gone.”He blinked at me and jumped onto the arm of the chair. Settling into his usual place with his feet tucked and his tail curled in front, the big cat let out a satisfied sigh.
“Get used to it, little lion.” I fluffed Sunshine’s fur. “They’ll be back.”
Have a wonderful Christmas Day and may your New Year be blessed!