Summer’s Tales 5

 

The Christmas Song

By Tom Foster

 

 

 

The sound of Summer’s alarm woke her up quickly as she almost fell out of bed, catching herself just before she rolled over the edge.  She really didn’t like her alarm, it made a really annoying sound that she didn’t like.  It sounded kind of like the television when one of the stations decided to run a test, the many different colors that filled the screen followed by a blaring sound that went on for several minutes.  It was like that, but a lot more shrill, and worse than that, it was right near Summer’s head on the nightstand that sat only a little ways to her right.  So it was sure to wake her up.

Reaching out she slapped at the top of the alarm, trying to find the OFF button that would silence the alarm.  Her hands and arms were still asleep too though, which didn’t help since she had to beat on the top of the alarm until finally she heard a small “click” as the alarm turned off suddenly.  Summer groaned into her pillow as she let her arm hang down the side of her bed, her eyes still closed as she sank back into her pillow.  She didn’t want to get up this early, especially when there were only a few days left of school.  Couldn’t they let the kids out a little earlier?

“Summie, time to get up!”  her mother called from the door.  Summer just groaned again rolled over, her left arm lying over her eyes.  It was still too dark out!  Her Grandpa Jack had told her more than once in her life that winter was a time when it stayed darker longer, because the earth rotated away from the sun or something.  It got colder too, which was why she put her arm back under the covers.  Grandpa Jack and Grandma Darlene kept their house warm when they were up, but turned the heater off once they went to bed.  Then it got just downright chilly.

Her door opened as a warm shaft of light fell over Summer, causing her to squirm as she rolled over again, wanting to sleep a little more.

“Summie come on,” her mom said, “You’re going to be late for school!” Summer grumbled as she rolled over, her feet coming out of the blankets as she felt the cold instantly.  She shivered as her bare feet reached the carpeted floor, holding her arms around her body as she did.  Her eyes wouldn’t even open yet!

“Come on sweetie, go on and get your shower and get dressed, we need to go,” her mom said as she walked off towards the kitchen.  Summer shuffled her feet slowly across the carpet, still holding herself as she made her way to the left, down the hallway.  Her eyes opened wide as her feet came in contact with the hardwood floor that lay between the hallway and her room, her teeth chattering as she went “Brrrr!”  She almost ran to the bathroom after that, just because the hallway had carpet!

At least the bathroom was warm as she entered, sighing in relief as she closed the door.  It wouldn’t do to let the heat out!

*                             *                             *

 

Summer didn’t take a long time in the shower, she got cleaned up and wrapped in a towel before heading back to her room in a hurry.  Her mom had at least turned on the heat finally, and the house was getting warm quickly.  Her grandparents and mom had been making improvements on the house lately, and as a result the insulation had been replaced, the walls had been redone, and it made the house warm up a lot quicker!  That was a very good thing during the winter months, especially considering they lived way out in the country, up in the hills where it got really cold!

Closing the door to her room she quickly got dressed in a pair of dark blue coveralls, her favorite red shirt, and her good sneakers, white Reeboks that her Grandma Darlene had bought her not long ago.  Her grandparents were really good to her and her mom, they helped her mom out when she needed it, and had even let them move in when Summer’s mom had been let go from her job. Summer and her mom had moved back in months before, and it had been fun ever since.  Summer liked living on a farm, it was a lot of fun during the warmer months.

As she was tying her hair back with a small black hair tie Summer saw her door open, showing Grandma Darlene in her big fluffy purple robe that she wore on days she didn’t have to go to work.  Her grandma smiled at her as she spoke.

“All ready to go Summie?” Grandma Darlene asked.

“Yep,” Summer replied, smiling at her grandma.

“Okay, you’re mom’s already out warming up the car, come on and get some breakfast,” Grandma Darlene said, moving to walk out the door. Summer stopped her when she spoke again, stepping forward to ask a question.

“Grandma, did you tell Tommy and Heather what day my Christmas recital is on?”  Grandma Darlene smiled at Summer as she opened the door again.

“Yes I did,” Grandma Darlene said, still smiling, “I told them over a week ago, and Heather wrote it down on their calendar.  They’ll be there Summer, don’t worry.”  Summer returned her grandma’s smile as she followed her out to the kitchen, feeling a little better that she’d heard her grandma say that Cousin Tommy and Heather would be coming to her recital once again.  This was probably the tenth time or more that she’d asked, but she wanted to make sure.

She was going to sing in a church recital for a Christmas program!  Summer was so excited, she liked to sing, and she liked it when other people got to listen to her sing!

“Aunt Sheryl and Uncle Dave will be there too,” Grandma Darlene said, “And Aunt Carrie and Uncle Eric and their kids too.”  Summer smiled, jumping up and down a few times as she continued to follow her grandma into the kitchen.  She would be glad to see everyone , but she was always really glad to see Cousin Tommy and Heather!

“What do you want to eat Summer? We’ve got toast and Pop-tarts since you don’t have a lot of time.”   Summer looked at the toaster on the counter and then the colorful box that her grandma pointed at, seeing that the flavor was cherry.  That was good, she liked cherry, and brown sugar and cinnamon, and the s’mores kind too!

“Pop-tarts please.” Summer said, saying thank you as Grandma Darlene handed her one of the silver packages from the box.  There were two of the filled treats in the package, more than enough to fill Summer up for the morning.

“Okay, grab your bag and head out to the car, I’m sure your mommy’s waiting for you,” Grandma Darlene said, placing a hand on Summer’s back to gently push her toward the front door.  Summer didn’t fight, walking with a small groan to the door as she picked up her teddy bear backpack.  The bag part was the bear’s body, while the arms and legs dangled about as she walked.  The head was right behind her head, staring out behind her with its cute little dark eyes.  Summer shrugged on one of her heavy coats before shouldering the gerbil bag, feeling the few books she had in it and her lunch.  Her mom was always really good about packing her lunch the night before, and even putting it in Summer’s bag just in case she forgot.

“Have a good day at school Summie!” her grandma called as she made her way back into the kitchen, “Love you!”

“Love you too grandma, bye!” Summer called out, closing the front door behind her and then pushing past the screen door.  She made her way across the wide porch that led to the corner of the house.  Snow had begun to fall only a week ago, the weather cold and breezy up in the mountains, making it necessary to wear a coat and warm clothing.  A thin layer of cold, pure white snow lay over everything except a patch of ground that lay beneath the big, purple-leafed tree that sat in the center of the lawn, its big canopy creating a big circle of green all around its trunk.  It was a funny sight to see since it was winter, green grass surrounded by all white.

Turning right she passed the garage door before making her way to the rear passenger side door, opening it with her free hand as she hopped quickly into her booster seat.  She was still small enough that she needed to use a booster seat, but she hoped that soon she wouldn’t have to use it any longer.  It wasn’t a bad thing, it was meant to keep her safe, but in all honesty it was kind of embarrassing.  Babies and little kids used car seats and booster seats.  She was a big girl now!

“You ready to go Summie?” her mom asked her from the front seat. Her breath came out in a big plume of steam, the car was still real cold despite that it was warmed up.  Her mom hadn’t turned on the heater yet, using the defrost instead so she could see out the front windshield.

“Almost, hang on mom,” Summer said, not seeing her mom’s smile as she tried to sound like a big girl.

*                             *                             *

 

Summer had a hard time concentrating on her homework assignment, she didn’t like math!  They were working on fractions and percentages today, and it was really hard!  She was in one of the advanced classes for her age, even though she’d told her mom she didn’t want to be.  Grandma Darlene and her mom had told her she needed to be in the class though since she was so smart, it would help her learn a lot more.  But it was sooo boring!

She was almost done with the assignment already, and other kids were still having problems, so she’d decided to doodle, drawing pictures of her Cousin Tommy and Heather and herself, picturing them all as they’d been at Halloween, when Cousin Tommy and Heather had invited Summer and her mom over to their house in Jantzen Beach.  That had been a lot of fun!  She’d dressed up as a black gerbil, with a nose that squeaked when you pushed it, and a long gray tail.  Her mom had gotten her a black leotard to wear with black leggings, and she’d worn a big black coat too!

Summer could remember that it had been a nice night on Halloween, kind of cold but dry at least.  She’d gotten a lot of candy, and Cousin Tommy and Heather had even gotten her a pumpkin filled with treats!  That had been really fun night, she and Cousin Tommy had gone slipping and sliding all over his and Heather’s kitchen floor only a little after they’d all sorted through her candy to see what she’d gotten.  She’d gotten a lot!

Her picture showed Cousin Tommy and her sliding around the kitchen floor, with Heather and her mom laughing while Heather recorded the two of them slipping and skating around.  Summer smiled as her pencil formed the features and lines of the kitchen, and of Cousin Tommy trying to help her up.  She’d slipped around a lot!                 “Ahem.” Summer looked up immediately as she saw her teacher, Mrs. Davis, standing over her.  Mrs. Davis was a pretty woman, she had short dark hair and deep blue eyes that always seemed really friendly.  Her teacher was a nice woman, but she was sure that Mrs. Davis wouldn’t appreciate Summer playing when she was supposed to be working.

“That’s a nice picture Summer,” Mrs. Davis said with a smile, “But aren’t you supposed to be working on your math?” Summer smiled, nodding as she did.

“I’m almost done though.”  Mrs. Davis’s eyebrows raised slightly, her smile widening just a bit.

“Oh are you?  Can I see then?”  Summer handed her assignment to her teacher with a little groan, seeing as how her picture was drawn on the back of her assignment.  As Mrs. Davis looked over her work Summer fiddled with her pencil, her thoughts still on Cousin Tommy and Heather, and of course the Christmas recital she and her cousins were going to be singing in.  Mrs. Davis belonged to the church she and her mom went to, and would be there as well she’d said.

“Well, I don’t see anything you missed, this is very good Summer, but I would like you finish if you could.  You can finish your drawing on recess or when I give this back after grading it.  Does that sound fair?”  Mrs. Davis asked, setting Summer’s assignment back on her desk, with the homework side up and the drawing on the bottom.  Summer twisted her lips as she looked up at her teacher, the look fading as she smiled, nodding to Mrs. Davis instead.  Her teacher smiled at her before walking away to help another student, leaving Summer to work on the last few math problems as she sighed.  Unseen by Summer, Mrs. Davis smiled, shaking her head slightly.

*                             *                             *

 

The recital was only a few days away, and Summer was getting more and more excited with each passing day!  She couldn’t wait to see Cousin Tommy and Heather, and Great-Uncle Dave and Great-Aunt Sheryl!  And she couldn’t wait to see everyone else who would come, she was so ready for the day to be here!

She would be singing with her cousins and friends from Sunday school in only two days, and she couldn’t wait!  Her mom and Grandma Darlene had helped her to memorize the words, and she’d sing for them at home.  Summer was so excited that she got to sing in the recital, even if she didn’t get to do a solo.  She was just glad that everyone would be there, that she would get to see everyone at least a week before Christmas came.

Her mom had already told her that they couldn’t get the whole family together for Christmas, which had made her a little sad.  But they had a lot of family all over Washington and in Oregon, and her Uncle Paul and Aunt Nikki were all the way down near Astoria!  They had a lot of family far away, but it was good enough to see them when they could.  Cousin Tommy and Heather would be spending Christmas early with Great Aunt Sheryl and Great Uncle Dave, and then they would be spending Christmas day with Heather’s family.  Heather had told Summer that she had a big family too, and it was hard sometimes to get everyone together.

That was okay though, she got to see both of them this Sunday, that was all that mattered.  Every time she got to see her Tommy Summer was happy, it made her smile and she knew seeing Cousin Tommy made her mom happy too. The two of them had grown up together, almost like brother and sister, and her mom really cared about Cousin Tommy a lot, and he cared for her too.

At the moment she was singing one of the songs that she would sing in the recital while she tried to concentrate on the last of her homework. She’d already finished her math and her social studies, now she was working on her English homework and then she’d be done.  After that her mom had told her they’d have dinner and then Grandma Darlene and Grandpa Jack had said they would all sit down to play a game!  She liked family game night, it was always  a lot of fun, especially when Grandpa Jack could play. Sometimes his shifts at work would change and he would have to sleep or go to work, so he didn’t always get to play, but tonight he would.

“Mom?” Summer called out, finding that she was stuck on a question in her homework that she couldn’t really understand.  Her mom tried to help her with her homework now and then, but sometimes even mom didn’t know everything, but could still try to help at least.  Summer had had Cousin Tommy help her with her homework before, and he was smart!  He didn’t know everything either, but when it came to English homework, he knew a lot!

“What is it Summie?  I’m helping grandma with dinner.”  Summer turned around in the semi-circle booth that sat to one end of the kitchen, she hadn’t realized her mom was behind her.  Grandma Darlene was at the stove, while her mom was making biscuits to go with the fried chicken that her grandma was making. Grandma was a good cook, she always made really yummy meals!

“I need help with a fraction, what’s one and three eighths plus eight sevenths?”  Summer saw her mom’s eyebrows rise slightly as she shook her head, which meant she either didn’t know or had to think about it.  Her mom was smart, but there were some things that Grandpa Jack had told Summer before that adults didn’t always remember.  They remembered the important stuff at least, but she couldn’t blame her mom for not remembering fourth grade math, it was really boring sometimes.

*                             *                             *

 

It was snowing outside!  The farm was covered in white, even the pig pen and the chicken coop and the goat’s pen were covered, which was why grandma and grandpa had moved the goats inside the barn for the winter, like they always did.  The small hutch that Grandpa Jack had built for the animals wasn’t warm enough in the winter, but the barn was.  All three Billy goats, the rabbits in their hutches, and the two horses were cozy enough in the barn, though every now and then they needed to be let out to romp, to stretch their muscles as Grandpa Jack said.  For someone who worked in the city, Grandpa Jack knew a lot about animals, just like Grandma Darlene did about gardening.  Somehow Summer’s mom had never gotten into either animals or gardening as much, preferring television and hanging out with her friends when she was younger.

Summer could remember her mom telling her that Grandpa Jack and Grandma Darlene had tried to get her into animals by putting her in 4-H competitions, which she had enjoyed, but after hitting her teenage years that interest had lessened.  Summer liked animals a lot; she just didn’t like to clean up after them.  Looking out through the window that gave her a perfect view of her grandma’s garden and just barely the hog pen beyond, she could see the white ground that lay just outside the pen, covering the mud in a thick layer of frost and ice.  It would be kind of miserable for the pigs to come out now, but her grandparents had fixed special heaters within the pen and within the chicken coop to make sure that the animals stayed warm.  If the weather got really bad then the pigs and chickens would have to go in the barn as well, but until then they were supposed to be okay.

There was just one more day until the recital, and she was growing so anxious that she could hardly sit still!  Every time she got to see Cousin Tommy and Heather was special, it was like a present whether it was her birthday, Christmas, or not!  Summer could hardly remember a time when Cousin Tommy hadn’t been in her life, and to be honest, she didn’t want to.  As far as her mom had told her, Cousin Tommy had always been there, from when Summer was just a little baby all the way to now.  She didn’t always get to see Cousin Tommy and Heather; they lived kind of busy lives over in Portland, Oregon.

Both of them worked all the time for a company that Summer couldn’t remember the name, but they worked hard and long hours to make sure they could take care of themselves.  Heather was just as good for Cousin Tommy as he was for her, and it made Summer happy to see them together.  She’d liked Heather from the first time she’d met her, she was really nice and really liked kids!  Heather said she and Cousin Tommy were going to have children of their own one day, and Summer had told her that their kids would probably be just like them, which had made Cousin Tommy laugh.

He’d told her that it was a good thing, but Summer’s mom had agreed with him when he had said that it also meant they would have to pay attention at every moment.  Summer hadn’t understood that completely, but she thought that Cousin Tommy would be a good daddy, and Heather would be a good mommy, they were really nice people.

Summer hummed to herself as she looked out the window, smiling as she watched the snowflakes fall here and there, the white outside pretty to look at.  She couldn’t wait until she got to sing in the recital, it was going to be so much fun!  Summer liked to sing, she sang all the time in the shower and when she was taking a bath, and she’d told her mom she wanted to sing in choir in school this year, which was a lot of fun so far!                 Cousin Tommy had even talked to her about it months before when he’d picked her up to go to the beauty salon with Heather and her friend Mrs. Jacqueline and her daughter Julia.  Summer could remember that day very well, she’d gotten to meet Cousin Tommy’s friend David too, he’d been really nice.  She’d told Cousin Tommy that day about wanting to sign up for choir, and Cousin Tommy had told her it was a good thing to like to sing, that it was a lot of fun.  Cousin Tommy had even been in the choir he’d said!

Of course, he’d been in a high school choir, and then sang in college too, but she’d never heard him sing!  Heather said Cousin Tommy had a very nice voice, but he never sang anything!  He’d told Summer that his voice was okay, but not as nice as hers.  Summer didn’t know about that, but she would have very much liked to hear Cousin Tommy sing, if only to enjoy it for herself.  Maybe one of these days she could get him to sing something for her, just for her and no one else.

Maybe she could get him to sing tonight!

Then again, maybe not.  Summer was excited today for another reason, Cousin Tommy and Heather and Great-Aunt Sheryl and Great-Uncle Dave were all coming for dinner!  Aunt Carrie and Uncle Eric had been coming too, but at the last minute something had come up and they had to cancel, which was too bad.  Summer liked spending time with her family, all of them, but they would see each other tomorrow at the recital, so it was okay.

It was only afternoon, which meant that Heather was still working while Cousin Tommy was at home probably writing or cleaning house.  Summer thought it must have been hard for Heather and Cousin Tommy to work opposite shifts at their job, it meant they spent a lot of time apart.  But they were so happy together it didn’t seem to matter.  Every time she saw them they were so happy!  Her mom had told her a few times before that Grandpa Jack and Grandma Darlene hadn’t seen a lot of each other because they worked so much, but looking at how happy her grandparents were together Summer figured that sometimes it didn’t matter how much time people had to spend away from each other, it was the moments they were together that mattered.

She could understand this because she didn’t always get to see all of her family either, but she was really, really happy when she did.  Seeing everyone whenever it was possible was like a holiday all by itself!

*                             *                             *

 

Summer giggled as she sank into the big, comfortable chair that sat in the far corner of the living room, feeling Cousin Tommy’s back as he sat on her.  They were just playing, she was more off to his side than beneath him, otherwise he would have crushed her.  Cousin Tommy was a big guy!  She was kind of hot and sweaty from playing so much, but that was okay, she liked rough-housing with Cousin Tommy sometimes, it was a lot of fun!

Great-Aunt Sheryl and Great-Uncle Dave had gotten here before Heather and Cousin Tommy, since they didn’t work as late.  Heather hadn’t gotten off work until around six forty-five, and then the two of them hadn’t gotten here until almost an hour later.  It was a long drive from Hillsboro, Oregon, to Washougal, but the two of them agreed that it was worth it.  Summer had to agree.

She giggled again as Cousin Tommy pretended to squish her, tickling her tummy and armpits as she squirmed and laughed, trying to get away, but not too much.  Summer enjoyed when Cousin Tommy played with her, it was one of the best parts of getting to see him.  Heather played with her too, but she would talk to the other adults a lot more sometimes, which was okay, adults had to talk, Summer understood that.

“So are you excited for your recital Summie?” Heather asked

“Yep!” Summer said, before giggling again as Cousin Tommy tickled her belly.

“What songs are you singing again Summer?” Great-Uncle Dave asked, repeating himself as she tried to sit upright.  Cousin Tommy stopped tickling her as he helped her up, where she could see Great-Uncle Dave.

“Uhhhm, we’re singing some old songs and some new ones,” Summer replied, smiling at her great-uncle as he smiled back.  Great-Uncle Dave was a fun person, her entire family were good people, they liked to smile and enjoy one another all the time.  Summer knew that like any family they had their arguments and problems sometimes, but no matter what they were always family.

“Can you sing something for us honey?” Great-Aunt Sheryl asked, sipping at a cup of coffee as the rest of the family looked at her.  Summer’s eyes widened, so did her smile.  She almost shook her head, deciding to be shy, but she knew that it might be fun.

Looking to Cousin Tommy she asked, “Can you sing with me?”

His eyes widened and he started to say no, but Summer did the trick that both her mom and Heather had taught her, lowering her chin as she opened her eyes up big and wide, pouting slightly even though she still felt like smiling.  Heather had told her that this look would work on Cousin Tommy because of how he felt about her, but she’d never used it yet.  Well, she’d used it, but it had never worked.  As he looked back at her it didn’t look like it would work this time either.

“I don’t know what song you want to sing Summie,” Cousin Tommy said, “I don’t know any new Christmas songs.”

“Well then sing an old one,” Grandma Darlene offered, smiling at Cousin Tommy.  He knew this look, it meant that the pestering wouldn’t stop until he sang.  Summer smiled a little, thinking that Cousin Tommy would have to sing now!

“My voice isn’t really that great,” Cousin Tommy said, shaking his head.

“Oh your voice is fine,” Great-Aunt Sheryl said, “You sang in choir and you were wonderful.” Summer’s smile widened a little, she thought Cousin Tommy was going to sing!

“The best part about choir is that you have so many people to back you up if you’re voice isn’t all that good.” Cousin Tommy said, laughing slightly as he shook his head.

“I think you have a wonderful voice,” Heather said, “I’ve heard you sing.”

“You’ve heard nothing,” Cousin Tommy said, still smiling as he looked at Heather.  Summer giggled, Heather and Cousin Tommy often played with one another like this, one of them claiming that the other had either heard or seen nothing.  They played with one another all the time, it was funny to watch and listen to.

“Please Tommy, pleeease?” Summer asked, bringing her hands together in front of her.  Cousin Tommy wagged a single finger at her, shaking his head even as he smiled.

“Oh alright,” he said, shaking his head as he rolled his eyes.  Summer nearly exploded with joy, hopping up from the big comfy chair as she stood up in front of the big TV, almost bouncing with excitement.  Her grandparents, mom, and great aunt and uncle settled back into their own seats, each of them smiling as Summer and Cousin Tommy stood facing each other.

“What song should we sing?” Summer asked.

“How about the Christmas song?”  Summer shook her head as Tommy finished, not understanding which song he was talking about.

“Which one is that one?”

“The one about chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  Do you know that one?”  Summer nodded her head immediately, it was one of the songs she was going to be singing in the recital!  Cousin Tommy nodded his head as they turned to face the family, taking his hand as she leaned in close to him.  This was her Tommy, and he was going to sing!

As he started off, Summer followed, her voice matching his as they sang the words:

 

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,  Jack Frost nipping on your nose,  Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,  And folks dressed up like Eskimos.  Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,  Help to make the season bright.  Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,  Will find it hard to sleep tonight.  They know that Santa’s on his way;  He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.  And every mother’s child is going to spy,  To see if reindeer really know how to fly.  And so I’m offering this simple phrase,  To kids from one to ninety-two,  Although it’s been said many times, many ways,  A very Merry Christmas to you “

 

Summer closed her eyes for part of the song, trying to listen to Cousin Tommy’s voice as she followed along.  He really did have a good voice!  She wondered why he didn’t sing all the time, he really knew how to hit the notes as her Sunday school teacher would have said.  Summer felt all warm inside as he sang the words with her, making the song seem so much more special as she held onto his hand, feeling the warmth from him as Cousin Tommy squeezed her fingers gently, as though telling her that she was doing just fine.

Summer almost felt like Cousin Tommy’s voice was overpowering hers, but in the next second she realized something, he was helping her!  He knew how to keep his voice low enough and slow enough that she could keep up when she forgot a word, and he knew how to coax Summer along much like her Sunday school teacher did.  She felt more feeling in her words this time than she had before as Cousin Tommy sang with her, and in all honesty it felt really good.

As they finished  the song Summer felt another burst of warmth as her family clapped for her and Cousin Tommy, each one of them smiling as she could see upon opening her eyes.  Her mom was really smiling, so were Heather and Great-Aunt Sheryl!  It almost looked like Great-Aunt Sheryl and Grandma Darlene were about to cry!  They must have really done well!

*                      *                      *

 

The next day was the recital, and Summer was so excited!  She was wearing her pretty green and black dress, with a heavy coat since it was so cold outside, and she had her hair done up with a pretty red bow in it!  Her grandparents and mom had told Summer that she was so pretty, she looked like a little angel!  They’d left early enough to account for all the snow on the road, taking Grandpa Jack’s truck since it could handle the weather a lot better than either Grandma Darlene or her mom’s cars.

Their church was all the way in Vancouver, a long ways from Washougal.  Summer had attended Sunday school at the church for a few years though, and had been a part of two other recitals in the past, but she couldn’t remember them since she’d been so young.  The church she and her mom went to was Aunt Carrie and Uncle Eric’s church too, and they took their kids with them every Sunday as well.  Summer was at the moment with the other kids, including her cousins, listening to the Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Telley, talk about what they were going to do.

“Okay everyone, the recital is going to start soon.  Does anyone need to go to the bathroom or do anything else before it gets started?”  Summer looked around, no one spoke up, even her younger cousin Bubba, who had to go to the bathroom at some of the most awkward times.  He was smiling along with all the other kids though, he was having fun too.  Standing near Summer were her other cousins, Savannah and Maya. They were very pretty in their dresses too, Savannah in black and white with  her long brown hair all done up in curls, and Maya in a pretty green dress with her hair all neatly combed and curled.

“Okay then,” Mrs. Telley said, smiling at all of them, “It’s almost time, I want you all to go out there and do what we rehearsed all those nights.  And remember to have fun!” she said, smiling at all of them warmly as she spoke.  Summer liked Mrs. Telley, she was a really nice lady.  She was also the pastor of the church, and had been for many years!

When the time came for the kids to shuffle out onto the stage for the recital, Summer’s heart was pounding a little bit as she saw all the people in the pews, each one of them smiling or waving to their own children.  She couldn’t see her own family for a few seconds, but then she saw them, smiling up at her and the other children as they all sat close together. She saw Aunt Carrie and Uncle Eric, with Uncle Eric holding a camcorder in one hand.  She saw Great-Aunt Sheryl and Great-Uncle Dave, she saw Grandma Darlene and Grandpa Jack.  Summer even saw Uncle Paul and Aunt Nikki, with her cousins Jack and John!  And then, as she kept looking, Summer’s heart slowed down as she saw Cousin Tommy and Heather, their smiles big as she waved to them.  And Cousin Tommy waved back!

The recital began not long after, though Summer barely noticed as she started singing, moving her body a little to the music as she got into the songs.  She liked the new songs, they were a lot of fun and the way Mrs. Telley had directed them to sing was even more so!  The pastor was a good teacher, she knew how to talk to kids without making them feel like kids, which was something she’d told them she liked to do when they’d first began practicing.  It was easier to get people to do something without talking down to them Mrs. Telley said, and it made people feel better about themselves.

Summer listened to the other kids singing as she sang, smiling the whole time as she got into the songs.  When it was time for Savannah to sing her solo she listened with a smile, thinking that her cousin had a beautiful voice.  But it still wasn’t quite enough as she kept listening, waiting for that one song that she knew they were going to sing.

As Mrs. Telley announced the next song though, the Christmas Song, Summer felt her heart swell just a bit, remembering to just last night when Cousin Tommy had sung with her.  Her smile only widened as she and the other kids began to sing, hearing Cousin Tommy’s voice in her head again as she began to sing.  To Summer, it was the sweetest song she’d ever heard, and if she never heard another song again, that one would be more than enough to satisfy her.  Even as she and the other kids continued to sing she could still hear Cousin Tommy’s voice, and it made her smile.  This was the best Christmas ever.

 

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