Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Miracle--Part III

Ta-da! The finale! Will they or won't they? Has Lydia's holiday luck run out? Seriously, those two monstrous boys are capable of anything...
The Christmas Miracle of Lydia Perkins
Part 3

The boys were glued to The Grinch, giving Lydia exactly 104 minutes of semi-uninterrupted Me-Time. Typically those precious moments were spent cleaning, cooking, and caring for their home. Today Lydia was determined to spend them all on girlie primping. Locking the bathroom door to deter intruders, she proceeded to scrub every bit of her skin with perfumed soap and let the warm water rinse away the mommy stink. Today she would be a real girl, not the mommy-being with food stains on her clothes and her pockets full of Legos, miniature cars, and snot rags. 
She stepped into her closet, passing the piles of pajama pants and cozy T-shirts she preferred to the items in the back. She located a red sequined top with cap sleeves and a swooping neckline. She slipped it on, pleased to note that the fabric didn’t cling uncomfortably, but still accentuated her curves. Now for the pants. Happily, she had never succumbed to the universally unflattering mother jeans (those light-colored, high-waisted jeans that made everyone’s behind look enormous). Please let them fit! she mentally pleaded as she pulled on some wide-leg, dark-wash jeans with embellished back pockets.They were a bit snug, but still fit. Reaching past the endless line of Sketchers and fluffy slippers, she found a pair of sassy black boots with slim heels and slid them on. Glancing in the mirror, she was gratified to see the leggy woman she remembered staring back at her. Perhaps she'd hadn't had all the accompanying jiggly bits, but a girl couldn’t have everything.
Stepping back into the bathroom, she blow-dried her hair and popped in hot rollers. Carefully, she applied make-up, reaching for the seldom used eye-shadow, blush, and lip gloss in addition to the customary mascara she wore. She removed the rollers and tousled the auburn curls before pinning up the front and pulling a few out to spill around her face. Dangly cut-glass earrings completed the look. Finally finished, she gazed at her reflection. A real woman stared back at her, someone unconcerned with the worries of paying the bills, living on a budget, or foregoing fun in favor of providing for two unruly boys. She smiled at her gray-eyed reflection, glad to see that woman after so many years.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Apparently her 104 minutes were at an end. Sighing, she opened the door to ensure her offspring hadn’t maimed one another.

Mason arrived promptly at six. Lydia had rushed the boys through dinner and bundled them into warm coats and hats just in time. Though it had been unseasonably warm lately, the wind had picked up, resulting in a nasty chill in the air. Lydia reached for her long black coat and topped it with a bright red scarf, as she greeted him with a smile.
The boys were jumping around as usual, vying for Mason’s attention. He smiled down at them, asking about what they’d done that day.
“We got to watch The Grinch!”
“And we got you a present!”
They attempted to run one another over racing to the tree to retrieve the package.
“Thank you,” Mason said, inspecting the oddly wrapped gift, held together with too much tape.
“We wrapped it ourselves!” they exclaimed in unison. His eyes twinkled as he met Lydia’s gaze. Lydia just shrugged and smiled.
“Should I open it?” Mason asked. 
He was answered with a chorus of yeses and Jimmy blurting out, “You need it for tonight!  It’s a…” before Tommy smacked a hand over his mouth to muffle the last word. 
Mason ignored the ensuing scuffle and worked past the first layer of Scotch tape. The boys finally paused in the middle of their melee to watch Mason pull out a khaki green and blue checked scarf.  “Thank you, boys,” he said as he wrapped it around his neck. “It’s perfect for tonight.” The boys pelted him with hugs as he patted them on the back. 
When he disentangled himself, he turned to Lydia, leaning in to kiss her on the cheek and whisper, “Thank you,” in her ear, and, “By the way, you look gorgeous.” Lydia, slightly flustered by the nearness of him, had her wits about her enough to notice that the scarf brought out the green in his eyes. She had thought they were hazel before, but no, they were that bold green she’d only seen a couple of times in her life.
“Ready?” Mason asked them all. The boys shrieked in delight, running to the kitchen for the wrapped goody plates, Lydia hollering after them to be careful. 
“We can take my truck,” Mason offered as they made their way out the door. “It’s all warmed up.”
Lydia glanced at the sleek silver truck parked by the curb, “Are you sure?” she asked. “They’re likely to get something on the seats. You can never tell what exactly, but it’s sure to be sticky.”
Mason grinned as he lifted the boys into the back seat. “It’ll be fine,” he assured her. 
After the boys were safely buckled in, he opened the door for Lydia. She’d just been wondering how she’d could get into a truck in high-heeled boots when she felt his hand settle reassuringly on the small of her back. Gratefully, she stepped up and with a boost from Mason was soon tucked safely into the cab. 

The evening passed in a series of stops at neighbors’ homes, each consisting of the delivery of goodies (the boys arguing over whose turn it was to carry them), an exuberant rendition of Rudolph or Jingle Bells (more arguing about which to sing), the swapping of holiday well-wishes with the neighbors, and belted out versions of We Wish You a Merry Christmas as they made their way back to the warm truck. Lydia tried to ignore the interested looks with which her neighbors greeted Mason. She should have expected it, she supposed. They all knew her situation, and to show up unannounced with an attractive man in tow was asking for the gossip mill to begin grinding. She knew there would be countless inquiries about him later, but for now she tried to enjoy the novelty of spending Christmas Eve with someone pleasant. Having someone beside her as she carted the boys around the neighborhood, cheerfully joining in on the singing, and taking every opportunity to put his arm around her shoulders or waist when they weren’t separated by small wiggly bodies, was extremely pleasant. It almost felt like a date. Albeit a mommy date with two rambunctious boys as chaperons.
They delivered the last of the treats, sang a final Jingle Bells (Lydia thought she could go a whole year without hearing it again), and piled back into the truck.  
When they reached the house, Mason helped her out of the truck as he had done all night, insisting on opening her door and offering her his hand. She took it and kept her fingers wrapped around his even after she was safely on the ground. She smiled up into his green eyes and said, “Thank you for coming. It’s been a lovely evening.”
“My pleasure,” he said, smiling back at her as they walked to the porch hand-in-hand.
“Would you like to come in?” she asked when they reached the door.
“I’d love to, but I should probably go. I’ve got a bit of last minute shopping to do.”
She was about to say it was all right, that he’s already spent the better part of Christmas Eve with them, when a tussle from inside drew her attention. The boys had raced past them into the house, and as usual, were already fighting over something. She slipped past Mason to intervene before someone got hurt. She placed a hand on each boy’s shoulder, quickly separating them. They were still glaring at one another, when Jimmy--with his customary inability to focus on anything long enough to remain upset--looked up and said, “Look, Mommy, mistletoe!”
It had been Tommy who had insisted on the mistletoe. Lydia hadn’t hung it up for years, wondering what use they’d get out of it. But Tommy had heard about it in school, and when he’d found the sprig nestled in the bottom of one of the Christmas bins, had pleaded for her to pin it up.  Since then, the boys had been fascinated by it, stopping underneath it periodically and refusing to move until they were soundly smooched.  It was really kind of adorable.
“What’s going on?” Mason said, as he stepped up behind them.
“Oh,” Lydia said, pointing toward the greenery hanging above them, “Mistletoe.” With that, she grabbed one boy with each arm, loudly kissing them on the cheeks while Mason chuckled. The giggling boys returned her kisses tenfold, covering her face with smacky smooches.
“Can we open a present?” Tommy asked, shining-eyed, as Jimmy jumped up and down in anticipation.
“Just one,” she said, as they scampered off to the tree. “A little one!” she called after them. Mason remained by her side, watching the boys rattle the packages in search of the perfect one. 
It was Jimmy who looked up, smiled his disarming missing-teeth smile and called out once again, “Mommy! Mistletoe!”
She and Mason both looked up to see the mistletoe hanging above them. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” the boys chanted while Lydia's cheeks burned.
Mason’s eyes crinkled at the corners as a cockeyed grin lit his face. “Let’s show them how this is done,” he said. Something snagged at the edge of Lydia’s memory, but she was unable to catch it as he deftly dipped her and covered her mouth with his. Her dream blossomed in her mind, and just as she had done then, she deepened the kiss. Sweet and passionate all at once, and just as had happened in her dream, she felt reality fall away until only the two of them remained, locked in one another’s  arms.
“J.M…” she murmured against his lips, amazed that she’d even remembered the name of the boy she’d shared the stage with so long ago, and then instantly mortified that she should utter it while kissing another man. Her eyes fluttered open to see two wide green eyes staring down at her. He lifted her to her feet. Flustered, she said quickly, “Oh, I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean…”
She expected him to be angry. She didn’t expect him to say, “No one’s called me that for a long time.”
“I said no one’s called me that in a long time. Since high school at least.”
Lydia braced herself against the wall, trying to keep her knees from buckling as everything clicked into place. The green eyes, the hair, darkened to a deep blonde, and that smile. She knew she’d recognized it. “You?” she asked, incredulous.
“I thought you remembered,” he said. “I certainly did, the first time you came to your door. I wondered why I’d been such an idiot to let you slip through my fingers all those years ago. Life just gives you another chance sometimes, I guess.” He smiled at her, reaching to brush an errant curl out of her eyes.
Still shocked, Lydia could only stare back at him.
At this point the boys rushed over, oblivious of what they were interrupting, and begged Mason to come look at their gifts. They grabbed his hands and pulled him toward the couch. Mason tossed an amused grin over his shoulder as he allowed himself to be dragged off.
Lydia leaned against the wall, taking in the scene. Her boys were scrambling excitedly onto Mason’s lap to show him their newly opened toys, and Mason was looking on with just as much youthful excitement in his eyes. The lines between past and present blurred for a moment. The tangy aroma of pine heavy in the air, mingled with the ever-present holiday spices, bringing to mind Christmases from long ago layered with recent holidays with the boys. From outside she heard the faint tinkling of far off bells, reminding her of yesteryear's sleigh rides and today's exuberant Jingle Bells renditions. Above her hung the sprig of mistletoe, as it always had in her childhood home, a bright spot of color in the middle of winter. 
The joy and hope of Christmas, something she thought she would never feel again, entered her heart. It was the reason she labored so hard this time of year, to try to recapture the peace and joy of the season. And as Mason glanced over his shoulder at her, his face alight with a happiness so familiar and yet so new, she knew that something precious had been restored to her.
It was her own little Christmas miracle.
* * *
Thanks so much for reading! I really enjoyed crafting this story and I'd love to hear with you think. Leave me a comment!

Here are the earlier posts of The Christmas Miracle of Lydia Perkins: Part I, Part II. Happy holidays, my dears. May all you wishes come true...or at least you get to sleep in and watch Netflix once.


  1. Loved it, I was hanging on every word - I was left wanting more :)

    Merry Christmas Sarah

    Kimmie x