Christmas is about family.
Or rather….it was.
Lucy fled up the stairs to her room to avoid the others. Running into her room, she closed the door behind her, falling onto her bed to cry. Curling up, she sobbed onto her pillow, wishing that she could go make those ugly giants surrender. Then Peter would come home for Christmas, instead of fighting them off.
She knew she needed to be a big girl for the others. Edmund was coming home tomorrow; he did not know that Peter was detained at the Northern border. She would not even think about tomorrow being Christmas. Wiping her eyes, she sat up and brushed the wrinkles from her dress. Yes, she would be brave. After all this was not their first Christmas apart from family.
Curling up on her bed, her thoughts drifted back to that time when their family had first been separated. She had been so young then, and had barely understood why her father could not come home for Christmas. A long-forgotten wish drifted back into her thoughts.
"Father Christmas...I wish for Peter to come home," she whispered. "For our family to be all together this Christmas."
As far back as she could remember, Lucy loved Christmas. Even during the Depression, Mum could make Christmas wonderful. The roasted turkey, mince pie, and pudding always ended up on the table every year despite the hardships, cheering the family enough to last for an entire year. One forgot those foodless nights suffered earlier in the year and feasted well on Christmas. Besides the food, there were plenty of gifts from Father Christmas. On the eve of Christmas, Lucy and her siblings would make paper chains to hang around the house and their parents would light two candles and place them on the table. Then they would sing and sit together under a mound of blankets watching the paper chains swing in the candlelight. Afterwards, Mother would hurry them off to bed and Father would tuck them into bed, even Peter. Lucy loved Christmas more than anything else, because Christmas meant family.
However, this year was different. This year her Father was gone. He was over the sea, in France, being a soldier for the King. She did not really understand, grownups did not explain these things much to little six-year-old girls. Nevertheless, she did know one thing. Christmas could not be the same without Father. As she carefully rolled her paper chain together, she watched her siblings do the same. It was quiet this year, Mother was reading Father's last letter and looking longingly out the window. Peter was absentmindedly gluing his part of the chain together and Susan was meticulously folding her paper. Edmund was remarkably silent, having in the previous years made comments on Lucy's imperfect chain. Not that he could make a better one really.
Lucy sighed as their mother ushered them towards bed. This Christmas Eve she tucked them into their beds, making sure they each had their extra quilt to keep them warm. Mother kissed them each on the forehead, but still it did not feel right. Lucy snuggled under her quilt. She missed Father terribly. With wide eyes, she turned onto her back and whispered towards her window.
"Father Christmas….please bring Father home. That is my Christmas wish. For the family to be all together."
Evan Pevensie stamped his feet, trying to stay warm. It was a cold night. The stars shone down through smoky clouds swept by on a bitter wind. His warm breath fogged, twisted into some marvelous shape, and disappeared into the night. Evan looked around at his fellow soldiers, scattered along the border between France and Belgium. Ever since England and France had declared war on Germany, everyone was uneasy. They dreaded another war like the 1914 Great War. Evan had been barely old enough to remember, but his father had fought in the trenches and had come home with terrifying stories.
Evan shivered and approached a watch fire. Two other soldiers stood by the small red flames, seeking some comfort on this freezing night. Evan nodded at his closest friend, Albert, and the young soldier as he knelt to warm his hands.
"Cold night," Albert commented, rubbing his hands together.
"And it will be an even colder Christmas," the young soldier replied.
"I'm sure Father Christmas will visit you, even out here," Albert mocked the youth of his companion.
The youth muttered something back, looking around as if he expected German shells to rain down upon them suddenly.
"Relax," Ethan said lightly. "The Krauts won't attack...it's Christmas Eve. Who knows? Maybe they will come over to play football."
The young soldier shifted uncomfortably, "Or they might send us gifts in the form of Howitzer shells."
"Lighten up," Albert encouraged. "I know what you need...a good Christmas carol."
Evan smiled, "Sounds good."
The young soldier still looked skeptical as Albert stood up and began singing in a rich bass.
All is calm
All is bright
(England; Christmas Day)
Lucy opened her eyes and smiled. It was Christmas Day! Leaping out of bed, she ran the short distance to Susan's bed.
"It's Christmas!" she shouted.
Susan groaned and rolled over, pretending to be grumpy. "Lucy," she groaned, rolling to a sitting position. "It's dreadfully early."
Lucy grinned and rushed out of the room. She had seen the smile playing on Susan's lips. Christmas was not a day to be grouchy. Running into the boys' rooms, she found them already up. Lucy rolled her eyes. Christmas was the only day Peter ever got up early.
"Come on," she urged as she clapped her hands together.
Peter laughed and picked her up, spinning her around the room. Lucy noticed even Edmund's downcast face was lit up.
"It's Christmas!" Lucy smiled.
"I wonder what Father Christmas brought you," Peter looked thoughtful.
"I made a wish," Lucy whispered confidentially.
"What?" Peter grinned.
"I…" Lucy leaned closer to Peter's ear. "I wished for Father Christmas to bring Father home."
"Oh," Peter's face suddenly became very grave.
As soon as the solemn look crossed Peter's face, it vanished into a wide smile. Lucy looked relieved, it was very difficult for her to keep a secret.
"Let's go see what Father Christmas brought then," Peter put her down on the ground.
Lucy nodded and grabbed Peter's hand, dragging him into the adjoining room. Little packages stood near the fireplace, but no father. Lucy tried to keep the disappointment from her face. Perhaps she had ruined the wish by telling it. Their mother came into the room, her face wreathed with smiles and for a moment, Lucy forgot. It was not until after the packages were open and the delicious dinner eating, that Lucy remembered. She was sitting on her bed, with her new doll wrapped in her arms. The moonlight was shining through their bedroom window when she recalled her wish. Rushing to her window, she looked out on the street. No father. Disappointment clouded her features. She had ruined her wish. Sighing, she laid down. That is why Christmas had not felt the same.
(France; Christmas Day)
Evan hugged his rifle to his chest as he walked along the borderline. He missed his family. Closing his eyes, he was almost there. Peter would be a little taller perhaps. He was a growing boy, despite the fact that they could not provide food enough to satisfy him. Susan would be turning into a young lady, beginning to look more like her mother every day. Edmund was probably losing that little boy look, perhaps even beginning to take on the looks of a young man. Lucy, his darling youngest. He could just see her face lighting up as she saw the presents from Father Christmas under the strings of colored paper near the fireplace.
Evan wiped at his eyes quickly so no one else noticed. He missed his family. Perhaps he would be able to see them soon. His beloved family.
Lucy woke up with a start. She must have fallen asleep. Bright sun's rays were peeking through the window. Lucy blinked. It must be morning. Christmas! She was dressed and ready to come down when she remembered. Peter was not going to be here. She sat down on her bed and tried not to cry.
Susan's voice drifted past her shut; taking a deep breath, Lucy went over to it. Susan was all smiles.
"Come with me," Susan tugged at her hands.
Lucy smiled weakly and let her sister drag her down the stairs and through the halls. She frowned as Susan did not lead her into the parlor where they had set up the tree. Instead, Susan was leading her to the front steps of Cair Paravel.
Lucy's eyes widened as the door swung open. A laugh bubbled up out of her chest, joining the merriment of her sister and brothers. Edmund was sitting on Philip's back and Peter was holding the reins to his own mount.
"That message was days old," Susan laughed. "Peter beat the giants back and met Edmund on the road."
Lucy could hardly contain her joy. Laughing she ran down the steps and toward her brothers.
The four siblings were curled up happily in front of the fire. Color paper chains hung all around the room and opened presents and papers were scattered all around them. But, best of all, they were all together.
Lucy smiled as she cuddled with her brothers and sisters. This time she had not told anyone her wish. She looked around at her family with a smile.
Christmas is about family.
(England; January 1st, 1940)
There was a knock on the door. Lucy looked up, surprised. She watched as Mother opened the door. A man in uniform stepped into the house, laughing and kissing Mother on the forehead. Father!
They had a second Christmas that year. There was no turkey or pudding at this Christmas, but there was something even better.
There was family.