Home for the Holidays
The women went upstairs after all the toys were out. The tree in the living room was designated as the adult tree and that’s where the brothers placed their gifts, small important exquisitely wrapped boxes from the jewelry store, and a few things from Bath Works.
“Somebody’s already been in here, I see a gift for Terry,” John said sorting out his boxes.
“Terry doesn’t need anything,” Terry said and smiled.
“None of us NEED,” Max said.
“Oh look Jack gets a gift, three…wow you must have been a good boy.” John looked up at him and grinned.
“I am always a good lad,” he handed his boxes over for John who was arranging around the tree.
“Terry, this trip you’ve got to take…you’ll be all right?” Max asked.
“Of course I will, you don’t go into something like that thinking you’re not going to come out of it okay.” He said the words but he knew there was always a possibility. He leaned over the chair back, “Look, not that I am worried but because of the kind of work I do…if ever…if something should happen to me…Max, it’s up to you.”
“Bloody hell man, you’d better come out unscathed.” Max looked over at him.
“I plan to,” Terry looked back and smiled. “It would have to be you and I know how complicated that would be for you, so I plan to come back.”
“Right, Max doesn’t need complications he makes enough of his own.” John observed and grinned.
“You understand don’t you why it would have to be Max?” he looked from Jack to John.
“Perfectly, I would not want to take them back to my time, my world. It could be done but there is the medical and other things I would not subject them to.” Jack sat back on his heels, “John has enough to contend with…it wouldn’t work for him.”
“I could make it work,” John sat back on the floor arms on his knees, “I could do that.”
“It would be easier for me…well not easy but I could manage it…bollocks, Terry.”
“Yeah, well don’t worry your pretty little head about it, Max, I just wanted to get this out…you know.”
Max met his eyes for a moment, Terry’s steady and open, his conflicted. He nodded his head. “You know I would.”
“Right then,” Terry looked at his watch, “Merry Christmas, it’s half past midnight. If Toni’s asleep, I’m going to wake her up…she likes that you know,” he grinned and stood up.
Just after six the next morning Mikey sneaked down the stairs and found Santa had been and raised the house. Dressed in pajamas, robes and slippers the sleepy household trouped down the stairs. Toni went to the kitchen to put the coffee on and found Munchie already in there in her battered old quilted robe and hairnet. She shooed Toni out to be with her family and prepared a tray of coffee to bring into the wide entry.
Terry came in with Jacky in his footed jammies and set him down, he stood there a moment eyes wide at the display and then walked over to his train and looked back at his daddy “Tom’s train,” he said with a smile.
“Jacky’s train,” Terry answered him.
Claire had no problem finding her things and was busy pulling things out of boxes. Jacky rode his Thomas train over to her and she stopped and had a look pushing a few buttons he showed her how to push to make noises. He was interested to see what she had too.
Shouts of ‘wow, oh look, just what I wanted’ filled the room as John’s boys dug into their treasures. Toni brought Terry a cup of coffee and sat on the arm of his chair with hers.
“There’s coffee in the hall,” she said.
Max still not fully awake stumbled toward the door passing Aubrey who was the only one who had dressed before coming down.
“What a din it must be Christmas,” he grinned and came in stepping over wrapping paper and toys to find a chair. He thought about next year when Maxi would be in the middle along with the rest of them. He’d stopped to say hello to Connie, who was feeding him, before bringing him downstairs.
John was down on his knees helping his youngest boy with a hand held game. Donna went for coffee.
After the rush of excitement was over and all presents had been opened and proper thanks given, Munchie appeared in the door, dressed, her tight gray curls fluffed out and said she’d stay with the children if they wanted to go into the living room for a bit. Aubrey stayed with her holding Maxi.
“Who wants to be Santa?” Toni asked and Terry went down on his knees by the tree and began calling out names and handing gifts around. He saved his gift for Toni until last and handed it to her with a kiss.
Toni opened the little box and took out the eternity ring, she knew what it was and while it was similar to the one Max had given her at the House, it was Terry’s ring and with tears in her eyes she handed it to him to slip on her finger.
“I’ll never take it off,” she said and kissed him.
“You might want to, there’s bigger and better things in those boxes,” he pointed to the pile in her lap.
“Not better,” she said and began opening the boxes one by one, each ring and the necklace she put on. The significance of each one not lost on her. She had tears running down her face when she finished.
“Gosh if I’d known jewelry was going to make you cry I would have bought chocolates.” Max said and bit his lip his own emotions close to the surface.
Toni laughed a little, “You are all so precious to me.”
“Jack this is not…not the ring is it?”
“No, Pet but it’s close.”
“John this was your own design…”
“I guess I wasn’t as original as I thought,” he grinned, “do you like it?”
“Oh yes,” she touched the hearts at her throat.
“It’s a yesterday, today and tomorrow ring.”
“I know…I recognized it,” she couldn’t speak. After she regained her composure, “well I’ll be blinding everyone everywhere I go with all my sparkles because I intend to wear them always.” She looked down at her hands, Terry’s ring worn over her wedding band, Max’s next to it and Jack’s on her right hand. “Thank you all so much.” She began opening other gifts the girls had bought her. They’d all bought something for the other in Victoria’s Secret and the men were interested in all of their things.
“We should model them for Jack,” Connie said tongue in cheek.
“Oh no,” Donna laughed, “He’d be so embarrassed wouldn’t he.”
Toni looked up at Jack, his face was flushed a little but he had a wicked grin and look in his eye. Modeling for Jack would lead to…other things. She opened a bag from Body works.
They gathered up their gifts for Munchie and went back to the den to relieve her and let her have her Christmas too.
At 10:00 they were all showered, dressed for the day and seated around the big round kitchen table. A separate table had been set up for the children, Jacky’s high chair was being used by Claire and Munchie had pulled out an old wooden highchair that had belonged to Toni’s Dad, it still bore the faded teddy bear on the back.
“I must say this is the best Christmas I can remember since my girls were little,” Aubrey said raising his glass of juice.
“Hear, hear,” Jack agreed.
“This is one fine family,” he continued, “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
“Thank you, Aubrey,” Max smiled, it had been a spontaneous moment for him when he’d invited him but it had turned out well.
“We’re glad to have you,” Terry said and meant it, he liked Aubrey Duncan.
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