It was 24th of December and Alice was visiting with Diana and all of their three children (Robbie, Fanny and Susie). Dad and Louis were on their way and should arrive in any minute now, but probably longer if the Christmas rush was anything like it was last year. Beth had run herself ragged with the Christmas stress but was finally having some much needed rest while he and Alice were preparing the dinner and Di was making the salad.
Mellie and Zach and Allie’s kids were outside, officially putting up more Christmas decorations, but more likely having a snow ball fight of the most epic proportions based on the joyful screaming being heard even inside the house. Ali smiled and rolled her eyes when Di went outside after finishing the salad saying that she would make sure they finished their job. They all knew it to be a big fat lie, for Di, the born-and-raised Floridian, had never been able to pass the chance at playing in the snow.
The sound of the car driving in the yard and the excited screeches of young children told them that Granddad and Grandpa had finally arrived! Joe dropped the potato he was peeling and ran outside. Dad and Louis were both passing children between them for hugging and blowing raspberries to their necks. Or at least Louis was, dad seemed to be giving more of kisses, to Zach’s indefinite disgust. Tiny Susie was trying to do the raspberry to Louis (or a very wet kiss with a tongue, it wasn’t quite clear, but only managed to make an exaggeratingly large fart which made her look confused and Joe to laugh so hard that he fell on his ass on the snow bank. Dad just smiled fondly and helped Louis up after he had gotten his chortles under control and gave him a small peck on the cheek.
This abruptly prompted a round of yeewww’s from the kids and a scandalized shout that Granddad and Grandpa were kissing! Gross!
All of this ruckus managed to finally rouse the great bear Beth from her sleep. Her hair stood up and her face was full of pillow creases, but even she managed a happy smile at the sight of old people being surrounded by kids. But still, knowing her amazingly short fuse after being abruptly woken up, Joe and the other adults (discounting Louis who was well on his way in reenacting his childhood with the kids by competing who can make the best fake (or real) fart) managed to tame the herd enough to get them all inside.
The dinner raucous affair as usual and Dad and Louis had promised to do the dishes while everyone else rested. They were also, quoting Zach: ”Making smoochie-faces.” Allie decided that she really didn’t want to see it, and declared the kitchen as a banned area for now. This of course made the kids want to sneak there even more. At least Di was having fun working as The Terrible Gate Monster That Tickles Little Children To Death And Then Eats Them. Kids loved this and ran around the house sweatier than they could ever remember.
Joe, Allie and Beth were all sitting in the sofa, talking about inane things and watching the show of five kids being chased by an overly enthusiastic adult. The show wasn’t boring or repetitive at all, the kids seemed to figure out new ways to get away or get caught every fifteen seconds, and Di had an admirable stamina and cunning to stand against five sugar high kids. When Dad and Joe finally emerged from the kitchen, all five children were laying on the floor and breathing hard. Di was curled up next to Allie having her hair petted. As this was no new sight for the oldest couple, they just made plopped down on the floor and joined the conversation.
When the kids had finally been forced/blackmailed to the bed with the threat that Santa wouldn’t come unless they went to sleep (And they had actually checked that they were asleep this time that much they had learnt from the last year at least when the three oldest of the bunch had faked it and almost got them all caught red-handed at putting presents under the tree. Luckily Dad and Louis had very squeaky floorboards).
Di and Beth were wrapping up the last uncovered presents and Dad and Joe were putting the presents that were inside the house under the tree. Allie and he were getting rest of the presents from the cars and other outside hiding places.
The sky was cloudless and the stars were bright. He could still tell the constellations apart even after all these years and the magic and the marvel of the stars hadn’t yet passed away. He thought he would lose something beautiful if he ever did forget it. The air was crisp and cold, their breathing foggy.
Allie was looking at the stars with him with a small smile. “Do you think he has arrived home already?”
He shrugged and answered: “Guess it’s impossible to know, the ship left so quickly. He could’ve arrived in a heartbeat or is still journeying. I think he – I hope he is back at his own home by now. He needs it.”
Allie nodded in understanding. The telepathic connection between him and the alien was still one of his best remembered memories, the way it was so taking, intrusive, but also giving. He had seen his homesickness, hatred and fear, even small glimpses of his own land and family. It was very bizarre even now, after 25 years.
“My fingers are ready to fall off, let’s get these inside” sounded Allie’s voice suddenly and Joe flinched out from his memories. Yes it was really cold, and he was tired.
After getting all the presents under the tree, all of them went to bed and tried to get as much rest as they could until the kids would come to wake them up at six am.