I woke up to the sound of Christmas Music floating through the house, and I could hear my Dad singing Jingle Bell Rock as he walked downstairs. The only time he would sing was on Christmas.....meaning that it was actually Christmas morning!
I booked it downstairs to the living room to find my whole family waiting for me in their best pajamas while the snow continued to pile up outside. A white Christmas is always the best, especially when the house is so decorated. My mom always goes all out when it comes to decorating for holidays, and that included Christmas. The mantle was decorated with holly, Christmas cards lining the long shelf. Mistletoe hung under the doorways and little decorative figurines were scattered around the room. Some poinsettias were on the coffee table and snowflakes that us kids had made years ago with popsicle sticks hung from the ceiling. The Christmas tree was extravagant as usual too. My Dad always insists each year on finding the perfect tree, and he always succeeds in his efforts. The tree was huge, perfectly shaped and smelled wonderful. A mix of store bought and homemade ornaments spanned across its bristled green branches along with the white Christmas lights wrapping all around. It was beautiful, and reminded me of why Christmas was my favorite holiday.
"Finally!" Said Kellan heaving a sigh. "Mom wouldn't let us open any presents until you woke up!"
"Sorry kiddo." I said rubbing my eyes. "Merry Christmas everyone!" I walked around the room and hugged each of my family members, then sat down in my usual spot on the couch.
"Okay Kellan, you can go first. Pick a present." Briley told him. He reached under the tree and pulled out the biggest box with his name on it. Obviously we were all too old to believe in Santa Claus, but my parents still signed all the presents with his name on it. I think they sometimes miss the days when we actually believed. Kellan ripped the wrapping paper off of it within seconds to see an awesome new stereo system underneath. Out of everyone in the family he is definitely the music buff.
"Yes! This is exactly what I wanted! Thanks mom! Thanks Dad!" Kellan yelled. I looked over at my parents. They both had a smile on their faces.
"You're welcome honey." My mom said, and Kellan got up to give her a hug.
The same process of opening presents continued for the next or hour or two. I hadn't really asked for anything this year considering my parents had already done so much by setting me up in Ireland, but somehow they still managed to get me nothing but the best presents I could ask for. Sometimes I swear they can read our minds, everything was spot on. I had gotten a new bedding set for my bed back in Dublin, some lilac perfume, gift cards for all my favorite clothing stores, some purple Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, and plenty of candy. I was even pleasantly surprised to find some curly-wurly's mixed in with the pile. They must have done some shopping in nearby Portsmouth where there are some Celtic shops that carry Irish candy.
My family also seemed happy about the gifts I had given them. I gave my mom a new decorative flag for our flagpole and a gift card for the local greenhouse and florist so she could get a good start on her garden. She loved to garden almost as much as she loved her antique shops. I gave my Dad some of those really fancy pens that he raves about and sweatshirt I bought in Dublin for him. I got Briley some new sweatpants and a gift card to the fanciest restaurant around so he could take Erica out. I had met her a few days ago when we all went out to lunch and I thought she was fantastic. She was very bubbly, but not in an annoying way, and I could tell she made Briley really happy. I totally approved. I got Connor a new basketball and some slippers kind of like Niall's. I gave Rian a new case for his iPhone and a crap ton of candy, and last but not least I gave Kellan a bunch of new t-shirts and an iTunes card for his iPod. All in all, I was really happy at seeing my family happy. The smiles on their faces on Christmas morning always melt my heart.
"Happy Christmas love!" Niall said into the phone.
"Thank you handsome. Merry Christmas to you too." I said back to him.
"Thanks beautiful. I would have called you right when I woke up, but then I remembered you're five hours behind."
"Yeah, thank you for not calling me at three in the morning. I wouldn't have been very pleasant to you." I said chuckling to myself.
"I figured as much." His voice made me crave his presence. "I miss you."
"I miss you too. Like a lot."
"It sucks we can't see each other on Christmas. But at least I get to hear your beautiful voice."
"I'd like to remind you that you're the one with the beautiful voice." I told him.
"You really think so?" He said in a raspy deep voice, purposely trying to be silly. I started to giggle. He almost sounded like Christian Bale in the Batman movies.
"Yes, even when you make yourself sound like a fool."
"Well it made you laugh, so that's what matters." He had a way of always making me laugh. "Well love, I've got to go. Mum just put the roast on the table and I don't want Greg to eat it all." Typical Niall, he's got to make sure he gets his share of the roast. "I love you."
"I love you too."
"We can skype tonight right?" He asked me. He was trying so hard to make sure we saw each other every single day, which I appreciated more than he probably knew, even if it was just on a computer screen.
"Yup. Same time right? Sorry you have to stay up so late."
"I don't mind, as long as I get to see you."
"And see Briley and Connor too, right?" I said with a smirk. Every single night that Niall and I have skyped, Connor has ended up interrupting Niall and me, to talk to him for at least a half hour about guy stuff and plans they had for the summer to hang out together. Briley always joined in the conversation too, if he was around the house that is. To be honest, their discussions are rather humorous. Don't let guys fool you when they say that girls talk too much. They talk just as much as girls do, just about different stuff. They even gossip about people, and its funny to listen to.
I could hear Niall laugh on the other end. "Well yeah them too. We're making plans a guys trip or something this summer."
"Why am I not surprised?"
"I don't know. Because I'm the coolest guy ever?" He said jokingly.
"Whatever you say Niall. Didn't you have to go?"
"Shit! Yeah! Greg probably ate all the roast already!"
"Well then you better hurry up." I said laughing at his antics.
"Okay bye babe. I love you, and we'll talk later yeah?"
"Yes, now go get your roast before its gone. I love you."
"Thanks love. Bye!" With that he hung up the phone, and I could picture him dashing to his dining room and pushing his brother over to get his hands on the Christmas dinner.
I ladled another portion of soup and poured it into the bowl. "Merry Christmas." I told the man. He smiled and thanked me.
Every year, my family and I volunteered at the local soup kitchen for a few hours on Christmas day. We've done it for as long as I can remember, and it was so much fun to do. It was a great feeling to be helping others on such a special holiday. I loved hearing the peoples stories, and they were always so appreciative of our volunteering. Our Christmas tradition was just another way that we liked to give back because we're very fortunate to have what we do.
For my entire life, my family has been very "well-off." We've always had a lot money and never struggled to pay the bills. My dad is a very well known and talented lawyer, so he brings in a lot of income. My mum also has her antique shops, which also bring in a good amount of money. I also know that the family has a big investment in different stocks, which have been rather successful for us, keeping us set in case anything crazy were to happen. So, over all, we've been luckier than a lot of people, especially in the poor economy of the last few years.
A lot of people assume that rich people are all really snobby, but that isn't true for my family at all. I wasn't raised to be a spoiled brat, and neither were my brothers. We still had to get jobs, buy our own cars, and do chores around the house. Our parents raised us to always be grateful for what we have and help those who aren't as lucky as we are, and one of the ways we help out is by volunteering here.
We've been working the soup kitchens for as long as I can remember. We do it every Christmas and Thanksgiving. If I ever have kids, I know I'll instill the same tradition in their lives too. Helping people who are less fortunate is one of the most important things I think a person can do.
I ladled another portion of soup into the bowl and handed it to the elderly woman in front of me. Her face and body looked tired and aged, but her eyes still seemed youthful. They sparkled, like the way that Niall's eyes do when he's happy and content.
"My oh my." She said. "Aren't you a beautiful young lady."
"Thank you. That's really nice of you."
"I only speak the truth. I bet the fella's are all over you." I started to blush a little bit.
"Eh, sometimes. Not so much now that I'm with someone."
"Well he is one lucky fella." She said. "Merry Christmas dear."
"Merry Christmas!" I said back to her. I wished I could talk with her more, but the line has to keep moving on.
Up next, a little girl came through the line. She had her hair in pigtails, a front tooth was missing, and she was wearing none other than a One Direction shirt. She couldn't be older than six, and was absolutely adorable.
"Merry Christmas." I told her as I poured her some soup. "I like your shirt by the way." She smiled really big, and tugged on the sleeve of her mother standing beside her.
"Mommy! She likes One Direction too!" Her mom smiled down at her.
"I bet she does honey. That's great."
"What's your name?" I asked her.
"Do you have a favorite guy in the band Jessica?"
"Niall! He's blonde just like me!" I smiled. It was a good thing she wasn't old enough to know that Niall died his hair. It would probably break her little heart.
"Well you know, he's a good friend of mine. I'll tell him how much you like his hair."
"Really? Thanks so much miss! Is he nice?"
"You're welcome. And yes, he is very nice. All the boys are. Have a good Christmas okay?" I said to her, leaning over the counter to place her bowl of soup on her tray.
"Okay!" She said giving me a wave as she moved down the line. I made a mental note to ask the director about her, or even her mom if she was still around before we would leave. I'm sure I could get an autograph from Niall to give to her. It would make her day.
The next few hours of volunteering went by really fast. It's funny how life works that way. Time seems to fly when you're having a good time and doing something you love, but then it slows down when things get tough.
After a few hours, the family and I all left the soup kitchen, giving everyone a wave as we walked out the front door. As we were walking out, I told my them to wait up for me at the car. I glanced around the cafeteria and got lucky. Jessica and her mom were still at their table. I ran over to the table and sat down.
"Uhm, I'm sorry to interrupt you." I stammered as her mom just gave me a curious look, while Jessica played with some friends. "Jessica told me how much she loves One Direction, and I was wondering if I could get a way to mail something to her. You see, I'm actually dating one of the members, which I know, you probably don't believe me...not many people do since he hasn't announced it yet....." I was rambling. Great. How awkward of me. "....but its true, and I'm sure I could get some cool stuff autographed for her. The guys really love their fans and don't mind at all." Her mum didn't really say anything at first, but then she shook her head and smiled.
"I can't believe this, but I'm sure she would love that. Do you have a pen?"
"Yeah, here." I handed her the one in my pocket, and she tore the corner off some newspaper and wrote down an address for me. "Thanks so much." I said to her.
"No, thank you. We appreciate your kindness."
"You're welcome. Merry Christmas." I stood up and gave her a wave then left to meet my family at the car, shoving the address into my front pocket.
We couldn't wait for dinner, mum was making the usual Christmas fare with chocolate pudding pie for dessert. When we got home, we all curled up on the couch together to watch our favorite Christmas special: A Christmas Story, while mum was working on dinner. For some reason, little Ralphie's holiday antics always made my family laugh the hardest. As I leaned my head on Connors shoulder while Kellan spread his legs across my lap so I could tickle his legs, I couldn't help but smile when I looked around at the people surrounding me. I love my family so much, and this was a perfect Christmas............... until my phone buzzed.
Merry Christmas Raegan. Enjoy your holiday while it lasts. I'll be waiting for you.
I could barely walk upstairs to my room because I was so full. I thought my stomach was going to burst at the seams or something. Niall would be proud, mums dinner really put me over the edge.
I threw myself on the bed with a thump, and opened my laptop. Niall was already online waiting for me, and within seconds an incoming video call was coming through. I picked it up and Niall's face flooded my screen. He was munching on a chicken leg or something and gave me a goofy food filled smile. I could see a pint of Smithwick's resting in front of him too. Classic Niall.
"Well hello there." I said. "I take it the roast didn't fill you up enough?"
"Nope, am I ever filled up enough?" He asked me, taking another bite of his food.
"You know, most girls would be horrified at your eating habits right now."
"Yeah well you're not 'most girls.' You're my girl, and you're better then all them." I smiled, and could feel my cheeks reddening. "And I like it when I make you blush." He said wiggling his eyebrows at me. This only made me blush more.
"And I like it when I make you blush." I told him. He rolled his eyes at me as he took another bite of his chicken wing, his cheeks getting red. "So how was your Christmas anyways?"
"It was good. It was nice to see me mum. And the rest of the family too."
"Did you get to see your Dad too?"
"Yeah I hung out at his place all day Christmas eve. He asked me about you."
"Yeah he just wanted to know more about you."
"What did you tell him?"
"Just where you were from, and where you go to school and stuff. He can't wait to meet you. Same with mum."
"Speaking of which, when do I get to meet your family?"
"Soon I hope. Probably the next time you don't have school or work, and I have a few days off."
"Right. Hopefully that happens soon." I told him, knowing that it wouldn't be for a while then. Which sucks. "So I have a favor to ask."
"What is it?"
"Today at the soup kitchen I -"
"The soup kitchen?" He asked, interrupting me, raising an eyebrow.
"I didn't tell you about that? Every year the whole fam and I volunteer at the soup kitchen."
"Oh no....I'm dating a saint. Lord help me now." He joked teasingly. I rolled my eyes at him and ignored his cheekiness.
"Anyways. There was this little girl named Jessica who's a big fan of One Direction, and you in particular and I'm wondering if you'll autograph something for her so I can mail it to her. I got her address and everything."
"Of course love. Text me the stuff and I'll mail it to her myself." He gave me a big smile, his eyes sparkling through the screen.
"Absolutely. I love the fans."
"And I love you." I could feel my cheeks getting red as the words escaped my lips.
"I would hope so." He responded with a chuckle, making me roll my eyes again. "Have you gotten any more texts from Jake?"
"I got one this afternoon when we got back to the house." I could tell he was immediately was angry, but was trying not to show the true depth of his emotion.
"What did it say?" He asked me. I pulled out my phone to look.
"It said 'Merry Christmas Raegan. Enjoy your holiday while it lasts. I'll be waiting for you.' It's still from the anonymous number."
"I'm picking you up at the airport." He said suddenly serious after a moment of silence. He looked angry, like he could punch something, and had a fierce look in his eyes that I had never seen before. They weren't sparkling anymore, now they were angry.
"What? Niall, no. I refuse to let you cut your family time short. Especially since you leave for Ghana in like, two weeks."
"Well I don't care. They'll understand. I'm coming to get you."
"Niall, please." I said. "It will be fine."
"What if he's waiting for you when you get back to your flat? What are you gonna do if you're by yourself, and that fucker is there?" He had me stumped. What would I do? Would I run? Would I call the police and hope he doesn't snatch me up something?
"I...I don't know.....don't you have to go back to London though?"
"Not until the 5th. When do you come home?"
"I get back to Dublin on the 3rd."
"Perfect. I'm picking you up then." He said, anger and frustration riddled through his words.
"That's really not necessary. I will be FINE. I already told you I would go to the police as soon as I got back." I told him. He just looked at me, still annoyed and angry.
"Yeah well now I'm going to the guards with you." He said all stern and annoyed. He could be rather protective sometimes.
"Yeah I am. And I'm annoyed. And worried about you. It's my job to protect my girl, so that's what I'm going to do." He said, whipping a chicken bone into the trash behind his bed. "Raegan, I love you, and you being scared and unsafe kills me. And I HATE that I can't be there all the time, so I'm going to do my best when I actually HAVE the chance to be there for once. A few days won't make a difference to the family." I started to blush again, and he noticed. He smirked a little bit. How the hell did I get this lucky?
"Okay. Just promise me you won't do anything rash if he is there?"
"I promise." He said with a smile, his anger ebbing away. Suddenly my phone went off again. Oh no....I unlocked the screen and read the text from the anonymous number again.
I just heard you have a new boyfriend? You'll pay for that.....stupid girl. All the color drained from face.
"What is it love?"
"He knows. About us."
"Who? Jake? Is it him that just texted you?" I nodded. He leaned forward for a second as if he could lean through the screen at the text, forgetting that we were thousands of miles apart. "What does it say?" He asked me. I read the text aloud to him. He closed his eyes and heaved a sigh for a moment trying to eradicate himself of anger. But, he failed miserably because in the next second he picked up his empty glass and threw it across the room in a blur, yelling "Feckin' Aye!"
Well, returning home should be interesting....