All I want for Christmas:
The warm eighty-degree breeze drifted through the small house on the military base. It was already November, and Beth Snow sat at the small desk, filling out Christmas cards.
Beth loved Christmas. Memories of years gone by reminded her of family Christmases, the excitement of the presents, the lights from the trees, and the warmth of laughter and fun sharing stories from the past.
But this year, with her family over a thousand miles away, Beth only had her husband, Rick, an officer in the U.S. Navy. They were stationed in the Pearl Harbor area of Hawaii, and even though they tried, she couldn't have a child. It wouldn't even feel like Christmas, because it wasn't even cold. They'd also just gotten to town, and she didn't even know the other military wives. But it didn't matter. Even if she did get to know the other wives, it wouldn't be the same. Most of them had children.
She began addressing the card to her parents, tears filling her eyes. She hadn't spent a Christmas this lonely and without hope for so long. She wanted to talk to people, but the phone lines didn't seem to span the whole way to the mainland, just because of the time difference. And email…her parents didn't even want a computer. Her brothers and sister didn't have time, because they all had full families with lots of love and children.
Looking around the small home, she saw boxes. That's all they had. Boxes filled with necessities only. No memories of days past, just clothes and a few dishes. They didn't even have a tree. No, this Christmas would just be another day in the life of a childless couple. Rick probably even had to work, so she'd spend it alone.
The door opened and Rick walked into the room. His smile faded as he watched her face. "What's the matter?"
He chuckled. "I know that nothing and it's not nothing." He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. "What's going on?"
She leaned her head against his shoulder, letting the tears fall. "Christmas is coming, we have no tree, no family, and nothing. There isn't even a chance for snow here."
"You're right about that part." He moved his arm around her, pulling her up against him. "But we'll have Christmas. I promise."
Beth looked up at his adorable face with a smile. "I'm sorry. I should've asked about your day."
He leaned down and gave her a kiss. "It was stressful. Remember Karen?"
Karen worked with him, and her husband had just been sent overseas to fight on his third tour. He'd been killed during a freak shootout, and she was devastated. But being the military, she had to go on, alone.
"Yes. I'm so sorry Jim died last month. She's got to be distraught." Beth sat up. "I should be thankful for having you here. She doesn't even have her husband."
"And she just found out she's pregnant. With twins. A few of us spent the whole day talking her out of getting rid of them. I don't know what she's going to do, but it's going to be tough for her for a while. She doesn't even have parents to help her. She's really alone."
It didn't take Beth more than a split second to make her decision. "I want the babies. We can adopt and she can see them any time. It would be an open adoption and we'd finally have a family. Tell her I'll go to work to pay for anything she's going through during the pregnancy, but I want the babies."
Jim's face turned confused as he listened. "Are you sure about this? We'd have to take kids with us where ever I'm stationed and they wouldn't have a home base."
"I was raised like that and it was really fun. Please, Jim? Please? We'd finally have the babies I can't have."
"Let me think about it. That's really tough on a baby, let alone twins." He kissed her again. "Want me to make dinner tonight?"
She smiled, but was praying in her head. Was this what she was meant to do?
It was the night before Christmas. Beth and Rick had a tiny tree, and a few presents under the tree. Karen hadn't decided on the babies yet, but knew she couldn't handle twins as well as her job, all alone. For now, she just wanted to take it one day at a time.
Beth was giddy with the thought of Christmas, feeling the sickness in her stomach that she got every year, just from the anticipation of the day. She was used to it, and usually could ignore it, but not this year. Chalking it up to the new location, it was still in the back of her head that she could be pregnant herself. She'd bought a test but wanted to wait until Christmas so at least she'd have presents to think about if it came up negative. She hadn't told Rick anything, just in case. She didn't want to get his hopes up.
After dinner, they both sat on the back porch of the tiny home, looking out over the palm trees and other houses on the base.
"So what are you thinking about?" Rick asked.
"Christmases when I was a kid. We were always in a different place, it seemed, because Dad moved us around a lot. And every time, it was a new adventure. I made such good friends every time we'd move, and every year, we'd write letters to see where everyone had gone. Those were the days."
"I can only imagine." He pulled her closer and kissed her head. "Beth, there's something I've been waiting to tell you. We're being transferred early."
She looked up at his face. "But we haven't even been here long! Why?"
"They need my skills back in South Carolina. I know that's going to be tough—"
"Tough?" Beth was on her feet, the nausea hitting her stomach, but she ignored it. "That's close to my parents! Why would that be tough?"
He chuckled, then pulled her back to the seat. "I knew it. Don't cry that you'll miss Hawaii."
While chuckling, she thought about Karen. "When?"
"August. They're giving us time, but I might have to do work here to help them out."
Karen was due in July. That would be perfect, if Karen could just make up her mind.
Beth's stomach churched with everything going on. She stood up, the nausea hitting her throat. "I'll be back." While practically running to the bathroom, she worried about everything, praying it would all turn out okay.
The next day, Beth knew the answer to the pregnancy test, but didn't know how to tell Rick. She pasted a smile on her face, trying to only think about Christmas, instead. She made his coffee and they ate breakfast at the small table in the kitchen, talking about their favorite Christmas memories.
After they cleaned up the dishes, they went into the living room and sat on the couch. Rick brought all the presents from under the tree and put them on the coffee table. Leaning up to her, he gave her a kiss. "Merry Christmas. I hope it's the merriest ever."
She did, too.
They began opening the presents until the only thing that remained was a small white envelope.
"What's this?" Beth asked.
"Someone gave me this at work," Rick said with a grin. He reached over, grabbed the envelope, and handed it to her. Just as she was about to open it, the doorbell rang.
"Who's that?" Rick asked, standing up.
"Just wait to open that and I'll get rid of anyone at the door." He walked to the door and opened it. "What are you doing here? Welcome!"
Beth couldn't see the door, so she stood up. Just as she took a few steps, Rick walked into the room with her parents behind him. "Mom? Dad? What are you doing here?"
"We had to be here for your first Christmas away from home," her father said. They both gave her a hug as she wiped a few tears filling her eyes. This was going to be the best Christmas ever, she thought.
They all sat down and Rick pointed to the envelope. "Open it. It's a huge surprise."
Beth gave him a glance, then ripped the envelope open, pulling out a single folded piece of paper. She opened it and began to read, the tears filling her eyes. "Karen wants us to adopt her twins?"
Rick nodded, then pulled her in for a hug. "She can't keep them and give them a good life, but she wants to know they're okay."
"They'll be loved, for sure." She glanced toward her parents, who looked surprised. "A woman Rick works with is pregnant with twins, and her husband just died. She has no one and can't handle taking care of twins by herself."
"So you're adopting them?" Beth's mother asked.
Beth wiped her eyes and looked at Rick with a grin. "Yes," she said. "Um…Rick, there's something else I want to tell you."
He stood up and walked toward the kitchen. "Yeah? Anyone want anything to drink?"
"No, but you might want to come back here for this." Beth winked at her parents and her mother covered her mouth with her hand, looking surprised.
"You're kidding," the older woman whispered.
Beth nodded as Rick walked back into the room with cans of soda, handing them out to everyone. Beth put hers on the coffee table, watching Rick open his soda and taking a sip.
"I have to tell you something," she said to him.
"I'm listening." He took another long sip and she couldn't wait any longer.
He spewed the soda out over the coffee table, staring at her. "You're what?"
"Pregnant. I just found out this morning."
"But…you can't have children. The doctor told us—"
"He was wrong. I'm pregnant and if you want to see the test…"
He knelt in front of her, and she saw the tears fill his eyes. "We'll have three children? All the same age?"
She nodded. "With two as siblings and the third as our natural child. What are we going to do?"
"I want to keep them all," he said. "I want you to quit your job and take care of all three…our children."
"Are you sure?"
"I'd love that. They'll grow up together." He turned toward Beth's parents. "We're also moving to South Carolina…about the time the twins are born. Actaully, about the time all three kids are born." He shook his head. "I never thought I'd say something like that in my lifetime, but I couldn't be happier." Leaning up, he gave Beth a kiss. "Mommy."
She chuckled and turned toward her parents. "Is this okay with you?"
Both of them nodded, then gave Rick and Beth hugs. "Better than okay," her dad said. "And we'll help you, if you stay in South Carolina. That's not too far from us, and we can make sure everyone's happy."
Beth prayed her thanks for giving her the best Christmas ever, finally getting her wish for a family for every Christmas celebration from then on.