"Daddy! Daddy! He came! He came!!" Mickey came running into her parents' bedroom and jumped on the side of the bed normally reserved for her mother. With her absent for nearly a month means that the young girl can crawl across the bed to push at her father's shoulder. "Daddy, wake up! It's Christmas!" There was another shove to his shoulder, "Daaaaddyyyyy!" and only when he woke up with a start does she giggle and bounce off of the bed. "Come on! Santa came!"
It was 6:30am.
Rubbing his face, Daniel Sousa pushes himself up to sit, "Ok…ok, I'm up. Go get the others up and I'll be downstairs in a minute." It seemed to mollify the little girl enough to go squealing down the hallway to the guest rooms. It isn't long before there are a couple more footsteps joining her's as they clamor down the stairs. Her older cousins, no doubt, still just as excited to open presents.
Another start was given when his sister appeared in the doorway, a robe tied over her nightgown and her hands quickly removing the curlers from her hair. "I'm sorry, I tried to keep her in her room, but she's fast. You ok? I'll go down and make some coffee and try to get them to wait." Daniel just nodded before he pushed himself to sit at the edge of the bed, "I'll be down in a moment." He waited for Inez to leave before he grabed his crutches and pulled himself out of bed. His wife and daughter may be used to seeing him on the crutches, but not his father, sister, or nephews.
It wasn't too long before he came limping down the stairs, still in his pajamas but wearing a robe over them and rubber-soled slippers. The smell of coffee is already going and his father, Inez, and her husband were seated at the table while the kids basically bounced about anxiously. Even though Peggy hasn't been home in almost a month, Daniel wasn't going to cancel Christmas. It was helpful, however, that Tillie went to her in-law's for the holiday. Once Daniel made his appearance, Mickey shrieked, "He's here! Can we pleeeeeease open the presents?" The three other adults looked to Daniel and he offered a sleepy smirk, "Yeah, go ahead."
It was the cue to move everyone to the living room. Inez brought two cups of coffee as she moved to stand next to Daniel, "You didn't need to do all this, you know," she murmured. "With Peggy…" but Daniel cut her off. "I'm not canceling Christmas because Peggy left." Inez wasn't going to let it go however, "Danny, you don't have a job, how…" but she was cut off again. "I do have a job, Inez. I just haven't started yet. We're fine. I'm not broke, ok?" Inez may have caught some of the hint because she took a brief step back. "Well," she finally says, "You didn't have to overdo it."
Yes, he did.
Everyone got gifts that year, but Mickey was just a bit spoiled. A few dresses from Inez, toys from her cousins, boardgames and coloring books from her grandfather, and a little bit of everything from 'Santa'. With the kids exhausted by mid-morning and quietly playing with their new toys, the adults were allowed to dress for the day. Inez and Daniel were busy in the kitchen, working on Christmas dinner, while Frederico and Inez' husband were watching television and overseeing the kids. Inez chattered on about friends and family back home, probably so that Daniel wouldn't feel like he had to talk about his missing wife. He was, however, checking his watch every few minutes after about ten in the morning. "Is everything ok?" Inez kept on asking and Daniel just nodded and smiled. At about 10:15am, the doorbell rang, surprising everyone, except perhaps Daniel. Wiping his hands off on a dishtowel, he limped to open the door. "Mickey! It's for you!" is called even as he took a step to the side. "Pai, get the camera. Now…" is muttered to his father even as Mickey hesitantly went to the door. When she got there she just froze before a squeal was let out that could be heard down the street.
"IT'S A DOG!!!"