It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
A fluffy piece set on Christmas Eve 2009
Disclaimer Ahead: Guiding Light is a product of Proctor
& Gamble (like Mr. Clean, Duracell and Old
Spice). The characters are the creative property of the show
and its producers – I'm just borrowing them for
my amusement, and hopefully for those few souls who read this.
It's the Most Wonderful
Time of the Year
All the lights in the house
are off downstairs except for the Christmas tree, which is
omitting a beautiful, multi-colored hue. On the sofa, Olivia
is bathed in that sparkling light, with Emma asleep at her
side and Francesca in
her arms. For a moment I think my heart actually stopped; the
beauty of the scene is so powerful it
stole my breath.
This is everything I ever
wanted…And not just since I learned about Francesca's
existence. This goes all the way
back to when I was a small girl, around Emma's age. I wanted a
big, warm home with loving children and…okay, a handsome,
attentive husband. Obviously, I didn't get exactly what I
wanted. Instead, what I received was so much more. She's the
love of my life and I know it's a wonderful life… because of
There're an assortment of
colorfully wrapped presents below the tree now - the live
tree, I might add, that she insisted
on having. I told her I didn't know if I could manage a live
tree again since Francesca was so small.
I offered an artificial one
and perhaps some pine-scented candles. But she was adamant we
have a live tree since
Emma loved last year's tree and this is Chessie's first
Christmas (although the baby can't see more than three
feet in front of her).
I grin, thinking how ironic
it was that Liv was the one lobbying for the tree. It's funny
how things can turn around in
just 12 months.
In the end, she won. She
promised that she'd take care of it – sap, needles,
watering; you name it – and true to her
word, she has. But honestly, like we said last year – it's
not about winning or losing. It's about doing what the kids
would find special. So this year I stayed home with Francesca
while Emma and Olivia brought the live tree home
with Frank's help.
I smile knowing that
watching Olivia and Frank argue about how to get the tree
inside two weeks earlier is still not as funny as
what happened a few moments ago.
I raced from our bedroom
closet to the tree as quickly and quietly as possible juggling
Emma and Francesca's gifts
down the stairs. I placed them below the branches as fast as I
could – and returned for more, taking some of
those stairs two at a time in the hopes of completing the task
before Emma woke up. Olivia took turns between
smirking at my silent balancing act and looking over to make
sure our girl was still sound asleep. Despite Emma's
best attempts to catch Santa Claus, she failed to stay awake,
and I jumped into action as soon as she was out.
But of all the gifts that
await us tomorrow morning, I know that our family is the
greatest gift of all. I thank the Lord
every day for bringing Olivia to me and for giving me the
perseverance to work my way back into her heart.
I realize her heart's not
completely mended, but day-by-day; bit-by-bit, I'm doing all I
can to win her trust.
It might mean making sure
she has her coffee first thing in the morning or answering her
phone calls before the
third ring. It might mean grander symbols of devotion, like
giving Francesca the last name of Spencer. The point
is I do everything I can to show her that I'm here for her and
our family… and I'll be here, no matter what.
The best part of all is she
notices each gesture I make and each time she says 'thank you'
I hear, piece by piece, I'm
succeeding in rebuilding that trust.
For the moment though, I
continue to watch the red, green, blue and yellow lights
twinkle and reflect against the bottle
that she's holding as she feeds our one-month-old – and
while it's Francesca's first Christmas, it's really our
first one too as a bona fide couple. Of course I could
breastfeed little Chessie myself tonight, like I do when
Emma's at school and Olivia's
at the Beacon. But I know that Olivia loves bonding with her
newest daughter, and the
truth is I love to watch them together, like right now.
At Olivia's right side is
Emma. She's curled up on the other end of the sofa fast
asleep. I know that she belongs to
Olivia and Phillip, but I also know that, just as Francesca
belongs to Frank and I, these girls are OUR daughters.
I smile as I watch Emma
snore lightly, wrapped up in a Hannah Montana fleece blanket
– one of the gifts that Frank
and Blake had brought her tonight.
On the arm of the sofa,
sleeping near Emma's feet, is the four-month-old, short-haired
tuxedo cat. Oreo follows her everywhere
and tonight is no exception. I wasn't keen on the idea, but
Doris insisted on getting her a cat as an early
Christmas present, saying,
'It gives Emma something to focus on while you tend to the
newborn.' Olivia agreed, but it sounded
far-fetched to me. Even after Doris and Emma came home from
the shelter with small black and white kitten
I had my doubts. Two months later though, I have to say…
they were right. Emma is learning that sometimes when
people, like Francesca, or animals, like Oreo, are small, they
require extra attention.
So when Francesca needs fed,
Emma checks to make sure Oreo's water and food dish are full.
When Francesca needs
changed, Emma cleans Oreo's litter box. When Francesca gets
dressed for bed, Oreo gets her fur brushed.
Emma seems happy with the new additions of both Oreo and
Francesca. And yes, I'll admit it, Oreo
is very cute with her pink nose. More than that though, she's
proved to be a great companion for Emma, but also
an illustration of why Francesca, being so small, requires
more care sometimes.
Holding two cups of eggnog
in my hand, I pause in the doorway between the living room and
the kitchen and I just
watch all four of them together…I have to smile.
I'm happy… but even in my
happiness, I don't feel entirely complete…I won't until
Rafe's home. I take an unsteadied
breath as I think about him being half a world away in a war
zone. Olivia turns away from watching Francesca
to see me standing there with a maudlin look on my face –
one that's mixed with joy… and sorrow.
"He'll be okay,"
she says softly.
That makes me smile. It's
not just the reassuring words. It's the fact she knew, at that
very moment, what I was
thinking without saying anything. Of course, she's not a mind
reader – and there are times when we still get
our 'wires crossed' and we end up having 'different'
conversations. But there are moments, like right now, when
we're completely in sync.
"I know. I have
faith," I reply softly as I walk deeper into the room. I
put the eggnogs down on the coffee table.
"Want me to get this
one off to bed?" I ask as I point to Emma.
She shakes her head.
"Not yet. I want to hang out with my girls awhile
I smile and I move to the
floor, since the entire sofa is filled with all creatures
great and small.
"Sit in the
chair," she tells me as I scoot closer to her.
"No." I shake my
head as I wrap my arms around her leg. "I want to cuddle
up here and look at the tree with you.
Besides, it's easy to get up from the floor now," I add
as I rub my baby-free belly. With her free hand, she reaches
down and strokes my hair as my cheek affectionately rubs
against her silk PJ'ed leg. I grin playfully as
I whisper up to her, "Plus, I can see your head between
your legs and you're right... It is a real turn on."
She strokes my face with the
back of her fingers. "Better watch it. You might get me
so excited that'll accidentally
drop the baby."
I smile again. "This is
a far cry from last Christmas, isn't it?"
She chuckles softly.
"Battling over Christmas trees."
"And Emma going AWOL…"
"But it wasn't all bad
though," she says as she places her hand over mine.
"You gave us the gift of a real home
by convincing me to stay."
"How could I let you
go? You moved heaven and earth to get me a piece of door
molding," I say affectionately.
"I knew how much it
would mean to you – that look on your face was worth it…"
She pulls the bottle from
Francesca's sleeping mouth. It makes a 'pop' noise and it
causes us both to grin.
I then take the bottle and
sit it on the coffee table as she put our daughter on her
shoulder and starts to rub her
back. It only takes a few seconds before a small burp erupts.
As she settles Francesca back into the crook
of her arm, I hand her one of the eggnogs and we each take a
I put my chin on her knee
and look up at them both. "I knew then."
"Knew what?" she
asks and then takes a drink.
"That you loved
me," I tell her. "When I opened that door frame and
realized what it was, I think I knew in that instant
that the feelings you might be having were more than
friendship, because... I felt it too… I knew that we'd
be a family someday… Then a week later I was standing at
Towers on New Year's Eve looking at all the
people. They were having fun with loved ones, making memories
together, and I just had to come home… I
can always find ways to make money, but happy memories…those
are things I rarely had the chances for…
until you. So…I came home." Olivia grins guiltily and
looks away. "What?" I ask.
"I got upset that you
were leaving that night because I knew it'd disappoint Em'.
But, really, I was disappointed too.
I thought it might be my chance."
"Chance to, I don't
know, test the waters with a New Year's kiss."
I smile. "But you
didn't kiss me that night."
"Nah, I chickened
out." I snort in response as she goes on, saying,
"But to my credit, and a few shots of liquid
courage, I did kiss you less than a month later."
I chuckle softly.
"Actually, I thought about kissing you too," I
confess as I start to move to my feet.
"Why didn't you?"
"Why didn't YOU?"
I counter. She didn't have to say anything. We know the
answer. "But this year will be different
though," I offer.
"So I'll get a New
Year's kiss this time?" she asks coyly.
"You'll get more than
that," I promise. Even I notice the longing is heavy in
my voice. She instantly turns red and
I feel momentarily proud. I usually can't make her blush, but
when I do, I relish it. She's so alluring, and I
can't help but leer at her. Subconsciously, I start to lick my
lips. "In fact, why don't I show you what I have in
mind for next week?"
"Now?" she asks
I grin temptingly and lean
down to her ear.
"Not all your presents
are under the tree. In fact, some aren't meant for children's
eyes." I watch her jaw drop,
and I reach out, taking Francesca away. "Yeah, that got
you thinking. I better get this little one to bed before
she ends up on the floor." I take our daughter toward the
stairs. "What about Bean?" I ask from over
"She'll be fine down
here," she says as she turns off the Christmas lights and
starts to follow me. "Besides, the
further away from our bedroom tonight, the better."
Oh yes, this Christmas is
going to be much different than the last one.