Part Four: In Which the Rosset Parent’s get a Christmas Surprise
At last the big day arrived. Sariel found her mother in the kitchen after lunch and her plans immediately swung into action.
Amaria turned around and smiled at her oldest daughter. “Yes Sweetie?”
“I want to make dinner tomorrow night,” Sariel said. “By myself.”
Amaria looked at her daughter in surprise. “What?”
Sariel felt her face flush with embarrassment. “I want to make our Christmas dinner so you can have a break for once.”
“That’s really sweet of you Sariel, but how were you planning on doing this? You don’t have a lot of practice cooking things by yourself.”
“I know, but I have enough to make this.” She held a recipe up for her mother’s inspection. “I am thirteen after all and I’ve made things like this before.”
Amaria read the preparation instructions and looked a little less doubtful. “Maybe you can make this by yourself honey, but we don’t have all the ingredients.”
“I realized that too, and I was thinking that you and Dad could go to the store together and buy the items.” Sariel smiled and tossed out some bait slyly. “Besides, then this trip to the store would give you and Dad some time together.”
Her mother was hooked. “Well, I’ll talk to your Dad about it and see what he says. It would be nice to spend some time with him…especially since he’s been so busy calling different places for work.”
Sariel nodded. “I think Dad would find it relaxing too. You could spend the whole afternoon there…you don’t need to worry about getting home quickly or anything because there’s leftovers in the refrigerator for us kids to eat if we’re hungry. You and Dad could even pack something and eat by yourselves!”
The idea was growing on Amaria. It was almost too tempting. “You don’t mind watching your two brothers while we’re gone?”
Sariel shook her head. “We’ll have stuff we can do to keep ourselves busy,” she answered vaguely.
Amaria raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure you can…but make sure you aren’t breaking any rules.”
“I promise,” Sariel answered with a grin.
“Darien, can I talk to you for a minute?” Amaria peeked into the small room she and her husband shared.
“Sure honey, come on in.” Darian turned from the desk phone with a sigh. “I just finished another call.”
“And what did they say?” Amaria prodded.
“No job openings yet…check again after the New Year.” Darien rubbed his forehead. “It’s the same answer every time. I’ve almost given up.”
Amaria knelt by her husband and looked up in his face. “Don’t you dare give up,” she said seriously. “You remember: ‘Cast your cares on the Him, for He cares for you.’ Darien, God will provide. We need to trust Him with our futures.”
Darien’s face cracked a smile. “I know honey,” he said softly. “I just need the reminder every once-in-a-while.”
Amaria stood up. “Well, I didn’t come in here for that. I came in here to ask if you had some time to go shopping with me.”
Darien gave his wife a look of confusion. “Shopping?” he asked.
“Sariel wants to make the Christmas dinner tomorrow all by herself so I don’t have too, but we didn’t have all the ingredients. Her idea was that you and I could go shopping, and have some time by ourselves at the same time. What do you think?”
Her husband stood up also and gave her a hug. “It sounds great. When are we going?”
Amaria laughed. “Next?”
Darien gave her a grin. “Why not?”
The minute the Rosset parents left the driveway, the Rosset children began their decorations. Talian and Adrian went out to the woods and cut down the small fir tree growing there. While they did that, Sariel brought up the old Christmas decorations from the basement and started laying them out neatly.
Once the boys had brought the tree carefully in and had it set up in the corner, Sariel was ready to put the unbroken ornaments on it.
“We don’t have any lights,” Talian mourned.
“We have candles,” Sariel replied. “I like those better than the electric ones personally…they seem more homey.”
“And warm,” Adrian added.
Talian couldn’t think of anything else to argue about so with that, they began decorating. Sariel was in charge of putting the ornaments on in a neat fashion, Talian was ordered to go back in the woods and get more branches, and Adrian walked over to their neighbor Mr. Fledd’s house for some holly branches he had let them have.
After the branches were brought in, Sariel finished her job with the tree and all three stood for a moment admiring her work.
“Well done Sariel,” Adrian said.
“It looks nice,” Talian admitted.
“Let’s get those branches in place now,” Sariel said briskly. “I want this place to look absolutely beautiful by the time Mom and Dad get back, and we’ve already been working for over an hour.”
Immediately, and surprisingly with no argument, the trio went to work on decorating the various ledges about the house. Soon the living room smelled of evergreen and cinnamon from the branches, candles, and tree.
Adrian successfully made the fire, and Sariel was able to finally begin cleanup. Pine needles and bits of broken branches littered the floor. Not to mention all the unused ornaments lying beside empty boxes.
At last, all the decorating, as well as the cleanup after decorating, was complete. Sariel made the boys eat some dinner, and she did too after making one last check that everything looked perfect.
Soon all three heard the familiar crunch of the truck tires on their gravel driveway.
“Turn out all the lights!” Sariel commanded in a low voice. “I want only the candles to be burning.”
Quickly, the two boys obeyed her order and soon the house was almost completely dark. The three siblings waited with breaths held behind the couch for their parents to open the door.
“We’re home,” Amaria sighed. “It was so nice to spend some time with you honey.”
Her husband smiled. “Yes it was. We owe Sariel a big thank you.”
The couple got out of the truck and started walking towards their house. Suddenly Amaria’s eyes narrowed.
“Look at the house Darien,” she said.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked worriedly.
Amaria nodded. “It’s too dark. There should be more lights on.”
Darien frowned. “Do you think the kids went to bed early?”
“I doubt that very much,” Amaria answered. “It’s only six, and they hate going to bed early.”
“It is Christmas tomorrow,” Darien pointed out.
“That’s never made a difference before.”
“I hope they’re all ok.” Concern leaked through Darien’s voice.
Amaria mentally braced herself for the worst. “Let’s go in now. But be careful, there might be burglars or something.”
The parents crept up the door and Darien unlocked it. “Sariel did obey us and kept it locked,” he whispered.
“Still, be careful,” Amaria repeated her first warning.
The door creaked open slowly as Darien cautiously pushed it open. The two stepped inside and closed it behind them.
A light flicked on suddenly and they saw their three children leap from behind the couch.
“SURPRISE!!!” they all shouted in unison and enveloped them in hugs.
It was then that Darien and Amaria suddenly noticed the change in their living room.
A tree, covered in colorful ornaments stood in one corner, fir and holly branches decorated the mantel and all three windowsills. In the greens sat several lighted candles. The room smelled like woods and cinnamon with a touch of eggnog and vanilla. The fire was lighted and crackling merrily in the furnace.
The parents were temporarily at a loss for words. When Darien tried to speak, he found that his voice was strangely husky.
“You did all this…” he motioned vaguely around the room, “while we were shopping?”
Sariel nodded. “We wanted to surprise you,” she explained.
“Don’t you like it?” Talian asked, seeing his mother have a tear run down her cheek.
She smiled through the blur of tears. “Oh yes,” she whispered. “I like it very much.”
“How come you’re crying then?” Talian demanded.
“Sometimes when one is experiencing deep emotion, such great sadness, and one will cry,” Adrian answered for his mother. “But just because one is crying doesn’t mean that they are necessarily sad. One might also cry because of other deep emotions such as anger or joy.”
“And I’m crying for joy,” Amaria said. “Because you did all this as a surprise for your father and I.”
Sariel’s eyes were shining. “And you were surprised weren’t you?” she asked.
“Very,” Darien replied. “You all did such a wonderful job decorating. Although,” he added walking over to the tree, “I am curious where you got this beautiful Christmas tree.”
Talian beamed. “I found it out in our woods. It’s one sweet tree, ain’t it?”
“Talian…” Amaria reproved.
“I mean,” Talian said quickly, “it is a beautiful tree, isn’t it?”
A smile tugged at Darien’s mouth. “Indeed it is,” he said.
As Amaria tucked her children in at night, she gave them all a special hug and kiss. “You all did such a wonderful job brightening our Christmas,” she whispered to each.
When it was Sariel’s turn, the oldest girl looked up at her mother and replied with a yawn, “Tomorrow is going to be the best Christmas ever…despite no presents.”
Amaria felt tears come to her eyes again as she kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Yes it is, because of you and your brothers.” She went to the door and flicked off the light.
“Mom?” Sariel called from her bed softly.
“When we have family, we don’t need presents for Christmas do we?”
“No. No, we don’t,” Amaria answered. Out of the mouths of babes… she thought to herself, and then added, “God will provide for our every need if we place our trust in Him.”