Anna balanced the bowl of popcorn in her hands as she stepped into the living room. Kenton knelt in front of the fire, adding a few more logs to the flames. He stood up, wiping his hands on his pants. He crossed the room, taking the bowl from her hand. They walked over to the couch, and she curled up against his side. He settled in with his arm around her waist.
“Did you pick a movie?” he asked.
“I did.” She reached over him and grabbed the movie from the side table. He chuckled at the title, pressing a kiss to her temple as he took it from her.
“Really, A Christmas Carol.” She smiled broadly at him.
“Of course, it’s a family tradition.” She shifted to let him stand. Her eyes followed her boyfriend as he got the movie set up. He came back over with a broad smile.
“Am I part of the family now?” he asked, sitting back down next to her. She tilted her head, peering up at him.
“I hope one day,” she replied. He opened his mouth to say something else, but stopped when she settled back against him. The movie started, and Anna turned her attention to the television.
The fire crackled in the background as the movie ended. Anna stirred, startled by the sudden quietness that descended over the room. Kenton looked down at her with a smile.
“You slept through most of the movie,” he commented with a grin. She stretched, rubbing her eyes.
“Sorry, it’s been a long few days.”
“That’s alright. I should be heading out it’s getting late.” She pouted at his words, looking up at him.
“My parents said you could stay the night in one of the spare rooms. The house is big enough, and I know that you aren’t making it home to your brother’s.” She sat up, taking his hand in his. “You should stay,” she urged. She watched the wheels turn in his head as he weighed the options. After another moment, he nodded.
“Okay, I will. I guess it makes more sense anyways being that I’ll be coming back tomorrow.” She grinned broadly, clamoring to her feet and holding her hand out to him. He took it, standing as well.
“We should let my parents know. They’ll send someone to get your bed ready. We have a few more traditions before we go to bed,” she spoke, bouncing on her toes excitedly. The idea of him spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with her family filled her with warmth. Kenton smiled down at her, allowing her to drag him down the hall to the front sitting room where the giant tree was. He looked around the room in awe, taking in all the beautiful decorations.
“Mama, Pa, Kenton agree to spend the night.” Her mother and father smiled warmly at the couple from the couch they were sitting on. “I figured that we should come and join you for the rest of our Christmas Eve traditions.” Her mother stood, walking over to the pair.
“We are glad that you are joining us, Kenton. I know it means a lot to Anna that you’re here.” Kenton smiled down at Anna.
“Thank you for having me.” They joined her parents on the couch, and a servant brought out a tray of glasses. Anna nestled into Kenton’s side after grabbing her glass.
“It’s eggnog. We wait up for midnight, and at midnight we toast,” she explained. “After we wish everyone “Merry Christmas” than we go to bed.” He nodded, taking a sip of the drink. The familiar sound of cheerful Christmas carols filled the room. Kenton marveled in the feeling of acceptance and love in the room. His parent’s death had left him grasping for what felt like a dream. Sitting next to Anna, he realized that he wanted this more than anything. He took another swallow of his eggnog before setting it down on the table next to the couch.
“Dance with me,” he whispered in Anna’s ear. Her eyes lit up as she looked up at him. He took her eggnog and placed it next to his before offering her his hand. Her warm hand slid into his, and he pulled her to her feet. He placed his hand on his waist and took her free hand in his other hand.
With her parents watching, they spun around the room as the familiar lyrics of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” echoed around them. Anna rested her hand on his shoulder as he guided them around the room. His arms reminded her of home, and she could only hope that she reminded him of the same thing. Kenton’s raspy voice sang along with Bing Crosby, making her smile. As the final chord played, they stopped moving. She smiled shyly up at him, and he kissed her forehead.
“Five minutes to midnight,” Pa called, making the couple turn towards her parents. They walked back over to the couch and picked up their glasses of eggnog. Standing next to her parents, Anna found herself tucked into Kenton’s side while they watched the clock tick down the final seconds to Christmas. As the clock chimed midnight, the group lifted their glasses.
“Merry Christmas, Anna,” Kenton murmured. She looked up at him, realizing that Christmas would never be the same unless he was at her side. She loved him which both terrified and elated her.
“Merry Christmas, darling,” she replied. She placed her glass down on the mantle of the fireplace and wrapped her arms around his neck. He glanced down at her, startled by her forwardness. After a moment, he wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her closer to him.
“Thank you for making this Christmas so special,” she whispered.
“Thank you for bringing me into your home. It makes their absence hurt a little less.” She looked up at him, the words on her tongue. She swallowed nervously.
“I love you,” she whispered. His eyes filled with happiness as he stared down at her.
“I love you too,” he replied. She knew she would never spend another Christmas away from him. She had found her home.
A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens, movie adaptation 1938
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943
Story inspired by Kelly Clarkson’s Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song)