Emma's First Christmas
December 22, 2014
"Baby, aren't you excited it's almost Christmas?"
There were flurries of snow falling slowly down upon the old shops on the streets of Primrose Hills as I walked down the ever familiar street with my baby girl. Christmas cheer was certainly spread throughout our tiny town, all the shop owners peering out their own windows, happily smiling and waving at families making their holiday purchases.
I grab Emma's mitten hand in mine as we walk down one of the main streets. Every inch of them are covered with snow, and there's a cold wind, but Emma didn't seem to mind. I think she was just happy to finally be back.
"Are you cold Ems?"
"That sounds like a lie."
"I not lying." She says as her teeth chatter.
I restrain myself from laughing, "Well, daddy's cold. How about we get some hot chocolate?"
"We'll go get presents afterwards."
I watch as Emma skips ahead, the owners of the little shops greeting her by name. Her blonde hair had gotten longer and she had grown so much since we had left.
She stands waiting for me in front of the coffee shop. I open the door for her and she steps in, knocking snow off her pink boots.
"Harry! You're back!"
Emma looks up at me and then at Elizabeth.
"Ah, yes. Emma, this is my friend Elizabeth."
Elizabeth smiles at Emma and extends a hand, "Hi, Emma."
"Hi." She says avoiding her gaze.
"Harry, you guys can sit wherever you like. It's been empty most of the day. No one should really disturb you."
I take Emma's hand and lead her back to a cozy booth in the corner and hand her a small menu.
"Did you want anything else?"
"Alright," I look up and turn to see Elizabeth already waiting for us to order. "Lizzie, can we have two hot chocolates?"
"Yes!" Emma says excitedly.
"Coming right up."
Emma looks out the window as snow is lightly falling once more.
"Baby, do you want to see your uncles tonight?"
"After we go Christmas shopping?"
"Here we go." Elizabeth says setting down two mugs frothing with whipped cream. "For my two favorite customers."
Emma smiles up at Elizabeth, "Thank you."
"What's that?" I say pointing to the banana in her apron. She pulls it out and places it in front of me.
"Oh, it's for you."
"I didn't order a banana."
"The woman in the booth in the other corner told me to give it to you. She already paid for it."
"What? Well...um...tell her thank you."
"You could thank her yourself..." Elizabeth says as she walks away.
I turn to look at Emma who has already managed to get a whipped cream mustache on her lip.
"Baby, I'll be right back."
"Okay." She says grabbing a spoon and eating the ridiculous amount of whipped cream Elizabeth had given her.
I get up and walk across the surprisingly empty cafe. It seemed Elizabeth wasn't exaggerating. As soon as I reach the booth Elizabeth pointed to, I hesitantly look over it.
"Hi." Edie whispers.
My heart beats and my stomach flutters and the blood rushes to my head. She was here.
From the inside of this cafe, the smell of pine and aroma of pungent coffee brought forth the Christmas sentiment strongly, but I couldn't help but think it was all irrelevant at this very moment. This very moment where I finally stood before her. She was finally in front of me. It felt utterly unreal.
Did Christmas come early?
Silence, an awkward but loud silence. She looked at me, not really waiting for me to speak, just kind of letting it set in. It was the first time in eight months we saw each other.
Eight bloody months.
"How are you?" She finally musters.
"I'm...I'm well." I say with a smile. I look up to check on Emma, who is still sitting at our booth with her face covered in whipped cream. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I was gone because she had her favorite treat in font of her. Typical four year old.
I try to sit on the other side of the booth, my legs shakily complying as I tried to order them to bend. Edie watched me as I nervously fiddled with the tip of the banana, a smile playing upon her face.
"Did you just get back?"
"Yeah. Two weeks ago." I reply, not quite able to meet her stare.
We had finally arrived back from an eight month tour approximately two weeks ago. And no, I had not had the will to call her. It wasn't that I didn't love her still, that I didn't feel anything. It was that I had fourteen days to plan Emma's first real Christmas.
Let me reiterate that.
And while it may seem that I was avoiding her, as Louis loves to point out, I was not. I was just desperately trying to keep sane as I attempted to make my baby girl's first Christmas the best it could be.
"Oh. Wow. Two weeks ago?" She asks stirring her coffee. "How was it then?"
"Amazing." I say sheepishly, smiling widely. "South America was bloody beautiful."
"You didn't say any jokes on stage did you?"
"You got booed didn't you?"
"Yes. But see, since I'm on stage I have the power to throw water onto my fans. So boos equal me drenching them."
"Great role model you are."
I point towards the booth and she turns, "Oh goodness! Emma!!" She yelps.
Emma looks up, a tad confused. But when Edie stands up, and Emma sees who it is she puts down her spoon and gets out of the booth, toddling towards Edie's open arms.
"Oh my Emma! You've gotten so big!" She picks Emma up, struggling a bit more than usual.
Emma immediately burrows her way onto Edie's neck, only her blonde ponytail visible as Edie hugs her tightly.
"I miss you." Emma says clinging to her.
"I missed you too." Edie says swinging her back and forth. Both of them obviously not wanting to break the embrace.
Eventually though, Edie sits back down, holding Emma upon her lap.
"What are you doing for the holidays?" I ask.
Edie plays with Emma's hair, tightening the half-assed made ponytail I had attempted earlier this morning, "Oh, nothing really. My parents have gone on a vacation, left me on my own!" She says with a sad smile.
Emma turns to look at her, "Christmas with us?"
That girl is quick, I do have to say. Doesn't spare a moment.
Edie looks at me, "No. No I couldn't impose."
"You aren't imposing." I say with a very sure and even voice. "You would never be imposing."
"Christmas with us!" Emma says wrapping her arms around Edie's neck once more.
"I guess so baby girl." She says with a large smile.
Emma's first Christmas, I imagine, will also be the first of many with Edie as well. And as beautiful and wonderful as that may be, I could instantly feel the pressure building.
I can't mess this up.
There was too much riding on it.
Christmas usually consisted of going to one of the lads parent's houses, eating to our hearts content, watching Niall drink to the point of believing he was a real life elf, and passing out on a ridiculously comfortable couch with a Santa hat on. It was not a huge elaborate event because for the past few years we were just too tired to even try to begin to deal with the holidays. Our parents took care of everything, making sure we hadn't lifted a finger. Wonderful ladies our mums were, bless.
But I just couldn't live with myself if that was the kind of Christmas Emma was going to have. So that's why from the moment I touched down on English soil, I made it clear to everyone that I would be handling the Christmas dinner. That I wanted everyone to come over to mine. And more importantly, that I would want no help from anyone.
And I wonder how I get myself into these messes.
But to top it off now, Edie was coming. It would not only be Emma and our family, but Edie as well. And that made me overly anxious. I wanted her to see that I was a competent man, that I could do this. I wanted her to see what a future with me and Ems would look like.
And now, as I try to scrape together a dinner, presents, and all the other little things a holiday calls for, I find myself increasingly frustrated. I had no idea how to cook a dinner for so many people, I had no idea what Edie would want for Christmas, and I had absolutely no idea how I planned to pull this together.
But, perhaps at this point, it was not that wise of a move to ask her to come over.
With mum, the lads, and who knows who else will show up...I think I may go mad.
December 23, 2014
I had managed to do it. The presents were wrapped, the tree was shining brightly, the house was spotless. The dinner was prepped, Emma was in bed, our outfits were hanging on the doors of our closets. It was almost too perfect.
As I finally climbed the stairs to my bedroom at three in the morning, careful not to rouse Emma, I hoped that everything would turn out alright.
That Emma's first Christmas would be perfect.
December 24, 2014
I wake up at ten in the morning to an eerie silence. It was too calm. By now, Emma should have been in my bed, prodding me to get up and prepare her something to eat.
By now, she would have made some sort of noise.
I get up in a frenzy, my stomach in knots.
I woke up later than usual, already knowing that everything was ready. People weren't even going to show up til around five, why get up at the crack of dawn.
As I make my way downstairs, I still don't hear her. She must be in her room, she must be doing something. But as soon as I hit the last step and walk into the living room I yelp, "No, no, no." I mutter, running my hands through my curly mop of hair and looking upon the disaster Emma had made. There was no way.
The beautifully wrapped presents were bare upon the carpet, boxes of toys opened and torn. The shiny paper, the intricate bows, scared upon discarded boxes. The trees wooden ornaments were taken down, the glass ones as well. The tree was completely barren on one side.
"Emma!" I call angrily.
I shake my head, no, no. I can't yell at her. She's only a baby. She didn't know any better.
"Daddy?" She calls, walking into the room with a bright smile upon her face.
"Baby? What did you do?" I try to say calmly, kneeling upon the plush carpet, finding myself unable to stand.
She simply shakes her head, "Nothing daddy. I like tree, I want to play." She says raising her hand and showing me toy she had obviously taken from under the tree.
"Emma. You...you weren't supposed to open the presents yet."
"No?" She says looking at me obliviously.
"No, Emma. No you weren't. Those were to open tonight."
She looked at me, but quickly lost interest, looking at the discarded toys upon the floor.
"You know what, never mind." I say getting up and picking her up. "Let's get you some breakfast."
"I eat already." She says looking at me.
"What..." No. No. NO. "What did you eat, baby."
Her brow furrows, and even though I was trying to keep calm, I was sure my calm voice was more scary and intimating than any angry scream could be.
"I eats cake and potatoes."
I put her down, running to the kitchen, and sure enough what I see are the plates I prepared, on the kitchen floor, half opened and picked at.
I almost scream in anger, but restrain myself. "Baby, go upstairs."
I turn around and try to plaster a smile on my face, "No. Daddy is not mad. He's just going to be incredibly busy."
"Oh. Okay." She says going to the stairs and climbing them slowly up to her room.
I quickly pull out my phone, dialing Louis, and as soon as he answers I quickly say, "I need you now!"
"What. What happened?" He asks groggily.
"Emma! She, she..."
"What!? What happened to Emma!? What's wrong with Emma!?"
I sigh loudly, "I think she just sabotaged my first Christmas."
And then finally, "You called me because you think that a four year old has ruined your perfect Christmas?"
"You don't understand."
"Yeah. You're right, mate. I really don't." He yawns, and I could make out rustling from him moving his sheets.
"Louis! My dinner! My presents! Everything! She got into—" No. No. No.
"Emma!" I yell, leaving my phone on the counter and racing up the steps, two at a time. I enter her room, the door smashing into the wall, as she looks at me in wide-eyed confusion. "Baby, where is your Christmas dress?"
She points to her closet, where the dress hung, it's ribbon undone and upon the frills were two baby sized hand prints.
"God damn it." I mutter, walking over to the dress and taking it from the hanger. I run back downstairs, pick up my phone and see that Louis is still on the line. "Lou?"
"What, Harry?" It sounded like his mouth was full, and there was running water.
"I need your help. Please."
He spits, "Yeah, yeah. I'll be there in twenty."
"Thank you!" I yell excitedly.
He hangs up, leaving me with the soiled dress in my hand looking at the havoc Emma had managed to cause in less than a day.
Two weeks preparing all these things, and she managed to undo them in less than a bloody day.
"You're fucked." Louis says the moment he sees the half barren Christmas tree and the presents unwrapped on the floor. He steps into the kitchen and shakes his head at the platter still upon the tile floor. He tries to stifle his laugh, but ultimately it got the best of him, "Ems got the best of you then? Sabotaged by a four year old?"
"Aren't you supposed to be helping me?"
He snorts, trying not to laugh again, "Yeah, that's what I'm here for."
"Well...can we start?" I say pointing all around me.
"Okay, well. Obviously I'll rewrap the presents and fix up the tree. You...you'll have to remake a lot of those plates won't you.?"
I sigh, "Yeah."
"Better get to work then. We have...six hours?"
"Six bloody hours." I mutter. "The cake itself takes four!"
"Well then, stop pouting and get to work Haz!"
Cracking, beating, mixing. Somehow I managed to get the cake in the oven, and somehow I managed for it to look like the one I had made yesterday. Louis, still wrapping presents, can be heard complaining in the other room.
"How many toys does one little girl need?"
"Didn't you volunteer to wrap?"
"Yeah! Except I didn't know you had bought out every toy store in the immediate area!"
"You're being ridiculous."
Louis pokes his head into the kitchen holding two boxes, "Harry, you bought two of the same toy." He says with a smirk.
I walk into the living room with him, happy to see that the tree was put back together and most of the presents were wrapped.
"By the way, mate. A gift card? For me? How impersonal." He says fluttering the envelope around my face.
"You looked? It didn't even need to be wrapped!"
"Beside the point. A gift card, really? That's like getting Edie bath salts."
I turn to look guiltily at the pile of presents that still needed to be rewrapped and look at the lavender colored box sticking out from it.
"You didn't. Did you?" Louis says with obvious snark in his voice.
"Well what else could I have possibly gotten her!?"
"I can think of at least five things off the top of my head that would be better than some fucking bath salts!"
"A necklace, some earrings, a coffee mug with the name of that stupid cafe you two go to, even a bloody gift card!"
"Is it really that bad?"
He sighs, "It's not that—" Louis sniffs the air and looks at me wide eyed, "Harry. What are you cooking?"
"The cake..." I sniff as well, only to feel my stomach drop. "No!" I yell loudly running to the kitchen, slipping and sliding on the slippery floors. I almost fall, but am able to catch myself on the kitchen counter. As soon as I open the oven door though, it was obvious the cake was no longer going to be a part of the menu
"Fucking shit!" I mutter pulling it out angrily.
"Calm down, Harry. Most people could use a dinner without desert anyways, cutting the carbs and sugar and all that, don't you think?"
I look at Louis angrily and he simply lifts his hands and walks out of the kitchen.
I try to cut off the burned part of the cake, burning myself in the process. "Fuck!"
"Your phone is ringing!" Yells Louis from the living room. I can hear him running towards me and putting the phone to my ear.
"Hi, Harry." I could practically see her smile through her voice.
"Hi, how are you?"
"Oh, I'm well. And yourself?"
"A bit tied up at the moment."
"Oh. Would it be a bad time to tell you I'm a bit early?"
I nudge the phone away from my face and turn to look at Louis, "What time is it?" I say in a hushed whisper.
"Quarter to four."
"You couldn't tell me that earlier!?"
"People aren't supposed to be coming around til five!"
"Well, Edie's here!"
"Bad time is it?" We hear a voice say from the phone in Louis' hand.
"No not at all. I'll let you right in."
I run to the door, to find Edie in a long black overcoat, her lips red and cheeks rosy from the cold. She was holding a variety of presents and bags. A large smile shone on her face the moment she saw me. Then it quickly fell when she stepped inside the house.
"Only his Christmas going up in flames, love." Louis says with a smirk as he walks to hug Edie.
"What?" She says with a concerned face.
I lean against the doorframe and watch as Louis takes the packages from her hands.
"I'm sorry." I mutter, pathetically looking down.
"For what?" She asks.
"I fucked up royally. I thought I could give everyone the perfect Christmas." My voice shakes. "But I couldn't even bake a bloody cake!"
"A cake?" Edie says looking at me.
She smiles, "Harry, I brought on from the bakery near mine."
"Yes. It's your favorite isn't it? See, you don't have to worry about baking one."
"But what about dinner?"
She takes off her coat and grabs an apron to put over her sparkly red dress, "I can do that. No problem."
"We only have an hour."
She starts washing her hands as I hover around her in amazement, "How are you going to manage to cook enough for ten people?"
She turns around, drying her hands, "Well, with your help of course. Now, I'll need all the dishes you've already prepared, for the oven to be set at 400, and for christsakes Louis, go change and get Emma ready."
"One problem with that." I start.
"What would that be?"
"Emma stained her dress."
"Bring it to me, it'll be good as new." She says smilingly.
"What would I do without you?"
She comes up to me, placing a hand upon mine and says, "Hopefully you'll never have to find out."
"That was marvelous."
All around the room all we could hear were pants being unzipped and grateful exclamations followed by content sighs. Edie had managed to do it, and do it beautifully.
"Alright everyone," I say trying to direct the attention towards me. "We will now go to the living room to open presents!"
Emma runs up to me, jumping into my arms, her pretty green dress clean and spotless. She is the first to sit by the tree, arms expectantly splayed to receive the most gifts out of everyone present. Of course, this holiday, as I'm sure many, will revolve around our little princess.
"Harry?" Edie says, coming towards me with a package. "This is for you."
I shake my head, "No. Please don't. You've given me so much today, Edie. I couldn't possibly want anything else."
"I promise you." She says with a mischievous smile, "You'll want to open this one."
"Alright, but let me give you mine as well." I pluck her box from the tree and hand it to her. "I'm sorry." I mutter as she opens her present, "But I just...I pretty much am a bloody mess at everything. I can't even pick a present right."
She smirks as she looks at me, bath salts on full display, "How did you know?"
"That I was out. I was going to buy some the day after next with the shops opened again."
"So it wasn't a horrid gift?"
"Of course not. Now open yours."
I peel back the wrapping and open the thin box to see a thin leafy plant, tied with ribbon, "What is this?"
"Hold it up." She says.
I hold it up, only to be kissed by Edie. Her lips press onto mine, only for a few seconds, before she pulls back with a chuckle.
"Wow." I mutter. "All I have to do is hold this up and I get a kiss?"
I walk over to Louis and hold it above his head. He looks at me questioning my sanity, "Harold, I told you that if you want to kiss me, you bloody well have to take me to dinner first."
"What a bad sport." I mutter walking over to my baby girl and sitting down next to her by the tree. I give her the mistletoe and she looks at me questioningly.
"Hold it up baby."
She holds it up, brow furrowed, and I lean in and kiss her cheek. She giggles, pulling back a little.
"Merry Christmas, baby girl." I say pulling her toward me, kissing her chubby cheeks.
She giggles, wrapping her arms around me and whispering, "Merry Christmas, daddy."
Yes, I think Christmas with my baby and girl and Edie, I think these will be the best memories I'll ever have. No matter how messy, frustrating, or joyful they may be, the mere thought of being with my two girl and the rest of my family, fills me with a joy I didn't think I could ever experience.
"Picture time!" Says Niall, getting everyone to huddle by the tree. Edie comes over, wrapping her arms around Emma, myself wrapping them both into my embrace. My mother, my sister, the boys, they all come together behind Niall as he places his phone on a long stick in order to get a good group picture.
"1, 2, 3." He says loudly. "Perfect."
"Perfect." I mutter kissing Emma on the top of her head and kissing Edie on her cheek.