The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far…
By S. F. Brooke
By @S F Brooke
Breana laughed as her six-year-old daughter unwrapped another Christmas gift and instantly wanted to open it. The sparkly and crinkly wrapping paper was thrown into the humongous pile of tissue paper and gift wrap as Breana’s husband, Derrick, opened his pocket knife and broke the toy free from its plastic prison.
“Here you go, Hollee. Do you like it?” Derrick asked the little girl, whose face lit up as she took the doll from her father. Hollee ran over to the couch to show her mother.
Breana smiled as her baby girl talked about naming her new doll, brushing her auburn curls back from her tiny face. “Merry Christmas, little love.” She said softly, kissing her daughter on the forehead.
Hollee grinned, full of joy, and hugged the doll to her chest. “Merry Christmas, Mama.”
“Go open another one, I think there’s another one from Papa under the tree.” Breana patted her daughter on the tush and with a fairy giggle, Hollee went back to looking for gifts in her candy cane colored pajamas.
Derrick came over to his wife and sat beside her on the couch, his face and body warm from sitting too close to the fireplace. “We spoil her too much.” He chuckled, giving Breana a gentle kiss.
Breana smiled and cuddled next to her husband, tucking her head onto his shoulder and rubbing his wedding ring around his finger. His tan skin was a contrast to her pale one. “If we don’t spoil her, who will?” She asked, laughing as the family dog, Telley, started helping Hollee open a gift by tearing into the wrapping paper. Breana loved every Christmas with her family, Derrick and her both went all out on decorations for the house inside and out. The fireplace was warm and giving a golden color to the whole living room and the shadows from their three stockings, four if they included the dog’s, hung from their mantel. The tree was over six feet, taller than Derrick, and sat in the corner of the living room the bottom half nearly covered with gifts for the family of three.
“Merry Christmas.” She whispered, placing a hand on her husband’s broad chest while turning and giving him a grateful smile.
“Merry Christmas. Are you going to give her that special gift?” Her husband asked, putting his hand over hers.
“I will, but it’s only eight,” Breana answered, looking at the tv’s clock. Hollee had woken them up at four in the morning and it took some convincing to get the little girl to cuddle with her parents and fall back asleep until six. Breana’s phone wallpaper was now a picture of her husband and daughter both sleeping in their Christmas pajamas.
“She looks so much like you when you were her age.” Derrick pointed out, watching his little girl play with Telley by showing off a new stuffed animal. Hollee had her mother’s same auburn colored hair and same shaped face but her father’s tan skin and hazel eyes.
“What? No, she is all you.” Breana smirked. “That button nose, those dashing eyes, the mischievous grin? All from her daddy.”
Derrick chuckled deeply, kissing his wife on her hand.
Hollee came over then to show her parents another new toy, her eyes twinkling at the sheer joy of this long-awaited day. “Mama! Look, it’s a doggy!”
The FurReal puppy barked as Hollee pressed its back while batting its large blue eyes at the six-year-old. Hollee squealed, looking expectantly at her father.
“Duty calls.” Derrick sighed playfully as he got on the floor, “Silently.” He whispered for his wife’s ears only.
Breana laughed as Derrick opened another gift for their daughter. They’d been opening presents for nearly two hours, but when their six-year-old had an attention span of a goldfish every toy was opened, played with, named, then another was opened. Breana and Derrick had opened their gifts, both from their daughter and each other, earlier in the morning when sleep was still clinging to them before Hollee started on her massive pile. Breana loved mornings like this, the quietness of just her intimate family with the small giggles and laughs that her daughter gave as she was amazed by another present from Santa. The thankful smile her husband gave Breana as he opened that new book that secretly he desperately wanted, his smile special for her alone. The warmth of the fireplace and the love that was almost tangible as Christmas music played softly in the background and the dog slept in the shadows of the fire in a picturesque moment. The coffee and cookies were warm in Breana’s belly as she saw her little one enjoy the childhood wonder that was Santa and Christmas. Breana made sure to show her daughter all the wonder, excitement, and traditions that came with Christmas in their household. Derrick’s family also had their own traditions which intermingled with Breana’s to make their daughter’s Christmases over the top and full of the holiday spirit.
After several other presents were finally opened and nearly every stuffy was named, Santa’s sack of goodies was empty and the reindeer’s carrots and the cookies were eaten Breana brought out one last gift. Derrick distracted the six-year-old while Breana went to go get the last gift, the one she really wanted to give to her little girl.
Smiling down at the small stuffed toy elf, Breana stroked the elf’s pointed ear. “We had a lot of adventures, didn’t we?” She asked the toy. Its ever-present smile making her grin back. The toy was one that Breana’s mother had given to her when Breana was only a year or two older than Hollee. The elf was named Twinkle and it looked uncannily like Breana, down to the curvature of her face. The elf had been a source of much mischief every Christmas, coming down to show their magic off and get into trouble for Breana and her siblings. Breana received letters from Santa through the elf and got small gifts when the elf arrived for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Twinkle arrived on the dot every year a week from Christmas and left the day after all of the festivities had ended. Breana remembered the most wonderfully exciting times when she would wake up as a little girl and wonder where her elf had gotten to and what trouble she would find by having to clean it up. One time Twinkle had made the toilet water blue and gone fishing for goldfish crackers, another the elf made marshmallows into a snowball fight with other stuffed animals, and another time Twinkle ‘reorganized’ all of Breana’s family’s DVD. Breana smiled down at Twinkle, more than ready to play the role her mother played for her when she gave Breana the elf. As an adult, Breana now knew just who had placed the doll in different places, who had eaten the cookies, and left the small notes. For now, Breana was more than willing to spent sleepless nights figuring out what to do for her daughter through Twinkle the elf, and the big jolly man, Santa. Giving the elf one last kiss Breana walked out and set the elf on the mantle.
“Hollee, we have one more gift for you,” Breana called out, sitting down on the floor next to her husband as he gave her a knowing grin.
“Really? Where?” Hollee asked, big hazel eyes looking everywhere under the tree.
Breana chuckled and turned her daughter towards the mantel, “I think there’s someone there for you to meet.”
Hollee caught sight of the elf and reached for it, Derrick came over and handed her the toy. “She’s so pretty.” The six-year-old breathed out, holding the stuffed elf reverently. “What’s her name?”
Breana pointed to Hollee’s stocking, “Maybe she left you something in your stocking?”
Hollee took down her overpacked stocking and a folded red paper fell out, “Here it is!” She handed the note to Derrick, together they read the small message. “Merry Christmas, Hollee! My name is Twinkles and I’m a special Christmas Elf from Santa here to spend the holidays with you!”
Hollee gave a wide toothy smile and clapped her hands. “She gets to stay?”
Breana picked up her baby and tickled her tummy. “Someone has to keep an eye on you!” She kissed Hollee’s head. “Do you know Twinkle has magic?”
Hollee’s eyes went big. “She does?”
“Yep, but she only uses it when you’re not looking or when you’re sleeping. It’s part of the Christmas Elf rules.”
Hollee grasped Twinkle to her chest and kissed the doll’s head. “Best Christmas ever.” She wrapped an arm around her mother’s neck. “Thank you, Mama.”
Breana clutched her daughter close to her. “You’re so very welcome, little one.” She set Hollee down. “I love you.”
“I love you too!” Hollee said, scampering off to show Telley her elf.
Breana came over to Derrick and leaned against his solid back. “I love you too.” She laid her chin over his shoulder. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas.” Derrick smiled.
Later on, as the family of three watched the traditional Grinch movie while sipping hot cocoa and as Breana watched her little girl hug Twinkle with all of her might her heart sung so loudly it seemed to be audible as a Christmas carol. Hollee, her little legacy, her baby girl, was so innocent and so in love with life that it made Breana’s heart hurt in a good way. And then there was Twinkle, the elf, the special Christmas gift that was bound to make Hollee’s holiday’s ten times better. Just as Twinkle did for Breana’s.
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