“Christmas”

A few weeks ago, I began this series of blog posts inspired by an old, Christmas-themed short story of mine. Together, all of you, I, and (occasionally) my character pal, Al Fischer, have counted down, from 10 to 2, the reasons we love Christmas. That brings us to today – Christmas Eve, and time to reveal the number one thing that makes Christmas the world-rocking holiday it is; high time, too, that I finally let you read this story I’ve been going on about since November’s end! Here it is at last, Ever On Word readers: “The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World”.

* * *

All was peaceful. All was quiet. In the bedroom lay two sleeping boys, the younger with the beginnings of a frown on his face, the elder with a well-developed smile on his. The room was dark but, gradually, grew lighter. And then, in an instant, the smiling boy’s eyes snapped open wide, one word ringing in his head and heart and soul:

            Christmas.

            “Christmas!” he squealed, springing out of his bed and onto the one across the little room. “Carl, wake up!” he cried, shaking the boy on which he had pretty much landed. “It’s Christmas!”

            “Al, shut-up! Get off! What’s the matter with you?” Carl groaned.

            “The matter?” repeated Al, all surprise. “No matter here, Carl. Haven’t you heard? It’s Christmas!”

            “Yeah, I heard you. And if that chorus of ‘shut-up, Al ’-s means anything, I’m not the only one in town who did.”

            “Really, Carl,” Al tutted. “What a Scrooge you are.”

            “Oh, please, no!” said Carl, groaning again. “Do not go all Nephew Fred on me this year!”

            “But I must! He’s my favorite fellow from ‘A Christmas Carol ’! And besides, it’s a tradition. Have you no respect for tradition?”

            “None.”

            “Well, I love a good Christmas tradition,” Al said with relish. “It’s one of the top 10 reasons Christmas rocks my world. Reason number 7, in fact.”

            “You don’t say,” said Carl, trying to snuggle deeper under the covers and nudge his big brother off the bed all in one surreptitious movement. “Have them all numbered, do you?”

            “Of course. I’m organized, like that. Now don’t think I don’t see you trying to get all cozy in there. Stop it at once – up, up, up!”

            “Ugh…!” Carl protested as he was dragged out of the room and down both hall and stairs.

            “Oh, come, whatever are you ‘ugh’-ing for? Don’t you care about presents?”

            “Don’t you think that, for a fifteen-year-old, you care a little too much?”

            “Silly – they’re presents! You simply can’t care too much about them, whether you’re fifteen like me or ten like you! They’re reasons 5 and 6, man!”

            “How can one thing be two reasons?” Carl demanded.

            “6 for giving, 5 for getting,” Al answered patiently. Then he glanced around the living room and immediately became impatient. “Oh, honestly. Where is everybody? Mother!” he called. “Amy! Aaron! Dad! HAVE WE ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT DAY IT IS, HMM?”

            There followed sounds reminiscent of un-Christmas-like grumbles, succeeded by footsteps that ranged from tired shuffles to angry stomps. Sixteen-year-old Amy was the first to join her two younger brothers by the tree, tightening the belt of her robe with unnecessary ferocity and glaring at Al in much the same way.

            “You realize, I hope,” she hissed, “that this ceased to be cute, oh, a decade ago?”

            “Merry Christmas, Amy!” said Al, choosing to overlook her surly attitude. Leaning around her, he waved to the slower-moving, much less crabby others. “Merry Christmas, all, and God bless us, every one!”

            “Gag me,” said Aaron. Okay, so maybe the others were only slightly less crabby.

            “Aaron, Amy, be pleasant,” Engelbert Fischer instructed his two eldest, his words almost lost in a yawn. “And Al? Try to be a little… less pleasant.”

            Al sighed, his eyes rolling heavenward in a show of martyrdom. “I’ll attempt it, sir.”

            “All I’m asking.”

* * *

After a few gifts had been exchanged, everyone’s mood drastically improved – even Al’s, whose mood you wouldn’t think had room to improve at all, let alone drastically.

            “Do you know why I’m so happy?” he simply had to burst out at one point.

            “Reasons 5 and 6?” Carl guessed.

            “Nope,” Al shook his head. “Reason 8.”

            Aaron looked from one to the other of them. This was an uncommon occurrence, as Aaron was a senior in high-school, and therefore saw anything younger than a junior as something less than worthy of his attention. (And when he had been a junior, the rule had applied to anything younger than a sophomore. Pattern established.) “What are you geeks talking about?” he asked.

            “The top 10 reasons that Christmas rocks his world,” Carl replied, his tone holding only a fraction of its usual sarcasm.

            “And what’s reason 8?” Freya Fischer inquired of her third-born.

            “Family togetherness,” Al declared. “Look at us – all in the same room and practically getting along! You hardly ever see that sort of camaraderie around here unless it’s Christmas.”

            “Must be the presents,” remarked Aaron. “Puts you in a certain kinda ‘tude.”

            “I’ve more often heard it called ‘holiday spirit’,” Engelbert put in.

            “But it’s not just the presents that do it, goodness knows!” said Al animatedly. “It’s the whole kit and caboodle! I mean, just look around at reason number 3!”

            “What?” asked Amy. “Furniture, people in their pajamas, what?”

            “Decorations!” said Al. “All the lights and the sparkle and the glitz and the ooh-ah! And snow, if You-know-who decides to get into the act.”

            “Who’s you-know-who?” asked Aaron.

            “Obviously misnamed, whoever he is,” Carl observed.

            “I am referring to God,” Al enlightened them. “You know, the one who sends the snow and all other weather? And, of course, the one who sent the reason we even have a Christmas, a.k.a. reason number 10. I mean, salvation aside, I say we owe him just for this awesome holiday!”

            “Well, make sure to thank him for all that at church tonight, then,” said Freya.

            “Thanking him as we speak, Mother.”

* * *

Following a few hours in front of the TV enjoying reason number 9 (holiday specials), Al wandered into the kitchen. “Do you need any assistance in here, Mother?” he inquired helpfully.

            “Sure,” answered Freya. Not that this was the technical truth, mind you; but what mother is going to turn down an offer like that from her teenager? “Why don’t you finish cubing these potatoes.”

            “Ooh, do I get to mash them, too?”

            “Um, no.” In the name of quality control, some offers did need to be turned down.

            “Very well,” said Al, resigned. With the exaggerated, clumsy care that marked him for someone who had very little idea what he was doing, he began to dice. “How’s this?”

            “Slightly bigger pieces… yes, like that.”

            “Got it. And what are you up to?”

            “Mac ‘n’ cheese.”

            “With extra cheese? And extra mac? And extra ‘n’?”

            “Yes, all of the above,” Freya laughed. Al beamed; he lived to get a laugh. Then suddenly, he gasped, and dove for the little radio that sat on the counter by the sink.

            “What the…?!” Freya cried.

            “I love this song!” Al cried back. He then proceeded to bounce around the kitchen like a man possessed.

            Hearing all the commotion, Engelbert and Amy poked their heads around the corner, he demanding, “What in the world is happening in here?”

            “WE’RE SIMP-LY HA-AVING A WON-DERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME!” Al sang back at the top of his lungs.

            “I think we’ve discovered another of his top 10 reasons,” Freya told her husband.

            “His world certainly does seem rocked,” he agreed.

            “Oh, it is,” said Al, still bouncing up a storm. “Music comes in at number 4. And in fact, I should make a separate list for the top 10 Christmas songs that rock my world. This particular one would rank quite high.”

            “You act quite high,” Amy muttered.

* * *

In due time, the meal was ready, and the Fischer family gathered around the table to partake.

            “Oh, bliss!” sighed Al – rather rudely, in all honesty, as his mouth was stuffed to capacity. “Reason number 2, right here!”

            “Dude,” said Aaron, also with his mouth full, “if the dinner isn’t reason number 1, your list is screwed up.”

            Al shook his head. “Believe it or not, there is one thing better. Here, I’ll let you all figure it out. Reasons 2 through 10 added up equal what?”

            “I got this one, give me a sec,” requested Carl. “Um… fifty-four. Right?”

            “No, no, don’t add the numbers – add the reasons themselves.”

            “What, you mean the original Christmas present + holiday specials on TV + family togetherness + special seasonal traditions + gift giving + gift getting + the music + the decorations + dinner?”

            “Precisely.”

            Carl held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry, we’ve left straight-up math territory; I’ve got nothing. What’s the answer?”

            “The wonderfulness that is even more than the sum of its parts,” Al said cheerfully. “That is reason number 1.”

            “So, wait,” said Amy. “Are you basically saying that the number 1 reason Christmas rocks your world… is just because it’s Christmas?”

            Al paused for a second, then laughed and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

            His family took a moment to absorb this. At length, Aaron nodded. “That works.”

            The End. Merry Christmas, everyone! ~ Deshipley

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