January 2, 2011
Well, we had a nice, quiet family Christmas. No huge surprises or emergencies, just a cozy day together.
Charlie had invited us all to come to his house on Christmas Day, rather than just Bella, Edward and Nessie. Then Sue came over, bringing Seth and Leah, and Billy and Jacob weren’t far behind (Rachel and Paul seemed to have taken the opportunity to have some alone time, they didn’t join us).
But before that, we had the Cullen clan Christmas morning festivities! Since Renesmee is the only one of us who sleeps, the rest of us were ready and somewhat impatiently waiting first thing in the morning. I couldn’t wait to give everyone their gifts, but I tried to remain patient for Ness and Emmett.
Hmmm? Oh, right, Emmett. Well, he’s a big old softie, that’s all. He wanted to do a Santa impersonation, but I assured him Renesmee would recognize him, so he decided to keep the suit anyway just for fun and recruit some helpers to play reindeer. Can you guess who, among our family and friends, was drafted into service?
Yes, the wolves really do come in handy sometimes!! With an awful lot of smooth talking, Emmett convinced Jacob, Seth, Embry and Quil (not Leah) to wear the jingle-bell harnesses and run by Nessie’s window to wake her up. It was … special. Emmett boomed out “Ho, ho, ho!” from the distance when the wolves were just barely within Renesmee’s hearing range.
Don’t tell Emmett, who looked very pleased with himself, but Ness placed her hand on my cheek and showed me that she knew it was him the whole time! But from the tone of her thoughts, she enjoyed it very much. She didn’t know for sure that the “reindeer” were her furry friends, but she kind of figured they were (immediately after their stunt, they came back to the house and begged Edward to remove the harnesses, so she didn’t get to see the spectacle of four horse-sized wolves wearing jingle bells).
Bella and Edward wanted a little family time at their cottage right when Ness woke up. They did warn us in advance, but it was still hard to stay patient while we waited for them to show up. To pass the time, Esme served hot cocoa and some kind of casserole made with eggs, cheese, and sausage to Jacob, whose family Christmas was not quite as big a deal (they gave each other gifts when they woke up – that’s all).
Carlisle had a Christmas playlist on his iPod that we updated every year, but I wanted Edward to get there and play us some songs on the piano – it’s way more festive! I paced impatiently in the front hall, pausing to adjust my Brian Reyes dress (ivory, midthigh, with contrast seams and a deep V neck) every few minutes. Jasper humored me by staying close by and watching with his arms folded and a soft smile on his full lips. It was distracting; he looked even more godlike than usual, not just because of his simple yet elegant outfit, but because of the loving glow on his face.
I let him distract me further from impatient thoughts of missing siblings, with his special talent for mood control. I’m not even sure he meant to project it, but he was feeling extremely content and affectionate, and it was infectious, whether he was trying to make me feel it or not. After all, it was Christmas, a day to slow down and enjoy the company of people you love.
But some of those people weren’t with me! My thoughts returned to Edward, Bella and Ness, just in time to hear approaching footsteps as they ran to the house. I could only hear Edward and Bella’s light steps, which made more sense when the three of them bounded into the house, Nessie giggling happily from her perch on Edward’s back.
“Well, it’s about time!” I scolded perkily as the rest of my family exchanged Christmas greetings. I shook my head at Edward with a smile, grabbing Bella’s hand and yanking her over to the tree in a flash.
As everybody settled into their positions on and around the couches, Jasper and I began to pass out the gifts from under the tree.
“Emmett,” I called excitedly over my shoulder, tossing a large box at him as I spoke. “Rosalie! Bella!”
“Merry Christmas, Esme,” Jazz drawled, handing her the stack of boxes I’d wrapped. I quickly finished doling out the gifts and hopped over to sit by her so I could watch her open my presents.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Esme smiled, looking up from the card I’d included. I grinned and gave her a swift kiss on the cheek.
“You’re welcome! Now open it!” I exclaimed, bouncing on the arm of the couch. Jasper chuckled and laid a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to calm me. I clutched his arm but declined to calm down – it was Christmas, one of my favorite days each year!
Aside from the two beautiful vintage necklaces I had found, one from the year she was born, the other from the year she and Carlisle married, I had also come across a truly lovely vintage dress that resembled her own wedding gown, but in a more wearable style for everyday. It was about the same creamy shade, with similar princess sleeves, in cotton rather than ivory, tea-length rather than full-length, and it had a simple square neck without the satin buttons that her wedding gown had going down the front of the bodice. Needless to say, Esme was overcome with emotion when she pulled out the dress and I started explaining why I had bought it.
One of the things I always forget about (really!) when getting ready for Christmas is that other people have gifts for me, too – I usually do see what they’re planning, but after that I just don’t think of it, too busy thinking about what I’ll get them! So it was almost a surprise when I saw the pile of packages waiting for me to open.
Edward was listening while I did my own Christmas shopping – a lot of the things I’d admired but hadn’t purchased for myself ended up under the Christmas tree, courtesy of one mind-reading brother! My favorite was from Rosalie, the bracelet I had briefly glimpsed when I bought her present from my new favorite jewelry designer, Stephen Webster – sterling silver shaped like a coiled snake, with a huge, diamond-shaped fuschia-purple gemstone that I couldn’t immediately identify. I put it on right away, of course, even though it didn’t go with my outfit; and while I was turning my arm and admiring the violet rays of light sparkling off the gem, I wondered what it was. It didn’t look like an amethyst, the only gem I’ve ever seen with such a vivid hue. Edward informed me that it was something called purple sugalite – I’ve never heard of it, but it’s gorgeous! Rosalie also gave me more jewelry and some lingerie, which I admired briefly before putting it back in the box, so my niece wouldn’t be too traumatized. Emmett nudged Jasper and winked at him, bringing another giggle to my lips, which hadn’t stopped smiling since the latecomers showed up.
Speaking of my niece … she is so talented!! She gave me a sketch she’d made using her electronic pad, the one I gave her; it was a drawing of me, wearing a pretty dress I’d never seen before. When I asked her about it, she shrugged, and simply said that she had designed it for me. Words cannot describe the swell of pride I felt when I realized that Renesmee is learning from me – and doing a damn good job at it, too.
Carlisle and Esme gave me tickets to Paris; it’s kind of my tradition to go for fashion week, and I usually stay in the same hotel penthouse (a Signature Suite at the Hòtel Plaza Athénée) every time. Knowing that, my thoughtful parents purchased first-class tickets for Jasper and I to fly in luxury aboard the Airbus, which I’ve actually never been on before! I’m really, really excited about that, especially since it’s a flight from New York – I can shop in the city, hop over to France, and do some more shopping!
Edward and Bella’s gift came in a little tiny box. I peered at it in confusion; a brief search of my memory produced no results. Whatever was in the box was a surprise, something they had managed to keep from me. The two of them watched me eagerly as I ripped through the wrapping and opened the box. Inside was … a car key?
“It’s for Paris, we got you a Metropolis,” Edward said casually, and my eyes widened until I thought they’d pop out of my head. Renesmee, wrapped in Bella’s t-shirt quilt scented with the “Renee” perfume I’d had custom-made, pointed at me and giggled, and I fought to regain control over my face. My mouth opened and closed a few times before I remembered how to speak.
“A … a … Citroen Metropolis?!” I whispered in a strangled voice, clutching the key so hard it started to bend. I quickly released my grasp on it before it broke altogether.
“Mm-hm,” my amazing, wonderful, incredible brother responded smugly, as Jacob sputtered and coughed half-chewed food all over the place.
“That’s a concept car!” he protested when he was able to speak again. Edward said nothing; just continued to smirk as I threw myself against him for a massive, bone-crushing hug.
“THANK YOU!” I shouted gleefully, dancing away from him and around the room, hopping over the boxes that covered most of the floor. One cartwheel wasn’t enough to express my joy, so I did a few more and added some backflips for good measure.
“HOW DID YOU GET YOUR HANDS ON A CONCEPT CAR?!” Jacob yelled, leaning forward to get Edward’s attention. My brother was in heaven, soaking up the praise he so rightly deserved.
“Jake!” Bella protested, laughing. The big goof was leaning right across her – probably stunning her sense of smell.
Well, we all calmed down eventually, and made our way to Charlie’s house for the next part of the day, Rosalie doing her best to convince Emmett that they should join me in Paris along the way. I knew she just wanted to drive my Metropolis, but hey, if they decided to come along, I really wouldn’t mind (but nobody other than me would get to drive that car).
At Charlie’s, there was more food for humans and werewolves, more Christmas music coming from his CD player, and stockings for Edward, Bella, and Renesmee over the fireplace. We wanted to give him his gift in private, so we got that out of the way before the others showed up.
He wanted to refuse it – it was obvious – the way his face slowly changed color and he gaped at the photo of a boat, it almost reminded me of giving Bella gifts. I can see now where she got that from. But, while he struggled to form words, Bella carefully explained that we had inherited the boat along with some lakeside property, and didn’t really have a use for it; that he’d really be doing us all a favor by taking it off our hands, as it would only sit in the water, decaying, if he didn’t.
In the end, it wasn’t so much that he gave in – it was that he was unable to speak up in time, before the others started to arrive. Sue, Billy, everyone came in around the same time, shouting “Merry Christmas” with varying degrees of pleasure as they set down their gifts and plates of food and baked goods. I resigned myself to holding my breath as much as possible for the rest of the day.
The gift exchange was interesting – we did have gifts for all of them, but none of us had been expecting to receive the handmade items that the Quiluetes had brought. Seth and Leah had found an image online of the “Cold One” from their own legends, and had copied it faithfully in a very tribal-looking painting, complete with hand-carved ebony frame. It was beautiful – and funny at the same time, since, well, it was a picture of their mortal enemy …
Billy and Jacob had worked together on a large mahogany carved wolf with its head raised to howl at the moon, and Charlie bashfully handed us a fat white photo album filled with Bella and Edward’s professional wedding pictures. Of course, we could all remember that day in perfect detail, but it was still really sweet of him, especially since Ness had only seen the big portrait of them that hangs in the cottage. She spent the next hour cuddled into Bella and Edward’s arms, slowly paging through the book with wide eyes.
Bella did find a private moment to present the green garnet ring to Leah, who was so surprised, she accepted it without thinking! I think she likes it, but I’d have to ask Edward to be sure.
I had my own little gift for Leah. Lately, I have been seeing tiny bits and pieces of wolf-futures, and there was one item I thought might interest her. I waited until I could get her alone, and then whispered into her ear the date and place she would meet her imprint.
Eventually it got dark, and the humans began stretching and yawning, so with some more hugs, we departed.
Back home again, we all gathered in the living room once more, not ready to leave each other just yet. Renesmee was dozing in Esme’s arms, while Edward played us some holiday songs with Bella at his side. She still looks at him with the same awed worship as always, especially when he does things like play the piano.
Jasper and I curled up on the floor, swaying gently to the music, too comfortable as we were to actually get up and dance, while Carlisle read a blessing he’d found online. With Rosalie and Emmett holding each other tight in the background, our father gently reminded us all of the true meaning of Christmas. Several words jumped out at me above the rest.
Childlike wonder? Check – each of us experienced it on a daily basis, as our lives grew more and more incredible.
Resounding joy? Double-check – the few brief moments of unhappiness in our lives were completely overshadowed by the deep and permanent bliss we all felt at being together, in couples and in our family as a whole.
All in all . . . it was a very merry Christmas.