Outtake 3: Getting On With Our Lives
"Daddy!" my daughters cried as they ran into the living room.
"Mase kicked over our castle!" Olivia continued, her hands planted on her hips.
I could see two fistfuls of Legos in Grace's hands as she looked up at me with a disgruntled expression on her face.
"Now why would he do that?" I asked, raising an eyebrow as I dropped my keys into the dish by the front door.
"'Cause they stealed my guys to play with their dolls," Masen growled as he came around the corner. I had to stop my laugh at the disgust in his voice.
"They stole your guys, huh?" I asked, looking down at my twin daughters. At three years old, they were miniature versions of my wife, from their wavy brown hair to their deep pools of brown for their eyes.
They gazed up at me with innocent, angelic expressions.
"Our mommies had to have daddies," they said sweetly, as if that should explain everything.
"Well, give Masen back his guys now. Maybe next time, you should ask if you can play with them, huh?" At their exasperated sighs, I chuckled. "Did you ask Santa to buy you some dolls you can use for daddies?"
I knew they had, because Bella and I had obviously helped with their notes to "Santa," but it had been a couple of weeks, so I wanted to remind them of that.
"Oh yeah!" Olivia said. "Christmas is tomorrow!"
I tweaked her nose and grinned. "Not tomorrow, sweetheart. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Nana and Papi will be here tomorrow, though."
After making them all apologize—for castle destruction and action figure theft—I asked, "Where's Mommy?"
"Feedin' the baby," Grace called before turning and running out of the room, her siblings hot on her heels.
I laughed, shaking my head at my children as I walked through the house and up the stairs to the nursery. I knew I'd find Bella in the rocking chair by the window, and I wasn't disappointed.
"Hi," she said softly when I came into the room. "I heard the kids. Everything okay?"
I nodded and moved to crouch down beside her. "Just a disagreement over Mommy and Daddy dolls and storming the castle."
"How's my little man?" I asked, brushing a finger softly over my son's downy hair.
Bella was nursing our four-month-old, who we'd named Matthew after my dad, Carlisle Matthew. Masen had been named after me, the girls both carried our mothers' middle names, and now Matthew Charles was named after both our fathers.
"He's good," Bella answered with a smile.
"And how's my beautiful wife?" I stood again and leaned down to kiss her, careful not to jostle the baby at her breast.
Bella sighed after I moved away. "Tired. The kids are ready for Christmas. I wrapped the last of what I needed to while they were having quiet time today, though, so at least something got done."
"I'll heat up frozen pizza for dinner," I said, taking Matt and the burp rag from her when she held him up. Putting him over my shoulder, I patted his back until he let out a quiet gas bubble as Bella got her clothes in order. "Why don't you go take a soak in the tub and relax? Take a nap if you want to. I've got the kids for a while."
She smiled gratefully. "His diaper's clean. Thank you." She kissed my cheek and Matt's hand and then headed to our bedroom down the hall.
"Come on, little man," I said quietly, grabbing his pacifier from the crib. "Let's feed your brother and sisters so Mommy has some quiet time."
Matt happily cooed his acceptance as I carried him down the stairs.
After dinner, the whole family gathered in Emmett and Rose's living room. It was the only place big enough to even think about being comfortable enough for eighteen people—ten adults, seven children over the age of three, and an infant.
Bella and I had invited Charlie and Sue up for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. They would then go back to spend the rest of Christmas with Sue's kids in Forks. With my parents both in town for the holiday too, we were bursting at the seams as we all crammed into the living room. We were all staying there for the night "so Santa only has to go to one place," according to Henry and Masen, although Bella's dad and Sue were going to go over to our house to stay the night. They would be back over bright and early to open presents, though, they'd assured Masen, Olivia, and Grace—as well as Jordan, Tommy, Lilly, and Henry, who they'd pretty much adopted as their grandchildren, as well.
As soon as everyone was seated, my dad began pulling big gift bags out from behind the large tree. I knew immediately what they were, of course, since the pajama tradition was still going strong. He handed one to Tommy, another to Lilly, and a third to Masen, before giving a slightly smaller bag to Bella's father and the last to my mother.
"Go ahead," Mom said, and we all laughed as the kids dug into the bags before she'd even finished saying it.
In each bag was a rolled-up pajama set, each tagged with a name. Jordan helped Lilly and Masen give out the ones from their bags, and then the kids all ran off to the bedrooms and bathrooms to change.
"Here, Edward," Bella said, handing Matt to me. "I'll go change and then take him again so I can dress him while you change."
"Oh please," Charlie griped, holding out his hands. "Give the boy to me, and you guys go change. Then we'll switch places."
I laughed and handed the baby to him, grinning as he cuddled my son close to his chest, already talking in a deep, but quiet voice about having a fishing rod just for him so they could all go out on the lake together when Matt got a little older.
Twenty minutes later, we were all back in the living room, proudly showing off our new pajamas. Like every Christmas, we all got matching pants—black with green and red Christmas ornaments—and everyone had a different T-shirt or sweatshirt.
Emmett and Rose had the funniest of the adults. Emmett was without shame as he paraded around in the white T-shirt that said: Dear Santa, I can explain... Love, Emmett. He was thrilled that our mom had even gotten his name screenprinted on it. Rose had a white T-shirt as well, with a cute frog on the front, some holly, and the words: I toadly love Christmas.
We all cooed and laughed at the kids. Nana had done an outstanding job picking out shirts to fit each personality. Official candy and cookie taste testers for Grace and Olivia. Cute reindeers for Lilly—the reindeer fanatic. A polar bear who needed a snowday for preteen Tommy, and for his older sister, Jordan, a letter to Santa saying to leave the gifts and take her brother. The most perfect were Henry—crazy words all squished together that said, "Santa! Oh My God! Santa's Coming! I Know Him! I Know Him!"—and Masen—a devilish little character that said, "be naughty. save santa the trip!" At four and a half years old, they were brilliant choices.
But it was when we all turned our attention to Charlie and baby Matthew that Bella's eyes filled with happy tears. Charlie's shirt featured Santa in a blue sleigh filled with presents and a small Christmas tree, and instead of being pulled by reindeer, he was being pulled by three fish—with antlers, no less, and a bright red nose on the lead fish. He grinned as he held Matt, who was wearing a white onesie with a big green cartoon-ish fish in a Santa hat, with the words Merry Christmas above it.
"See? Even Matty knows he's my future fishing buddy," Charlie said proudly.
Bella hugged my mom as I took my son from Charlie, tickling his belly. The kids were all excited and showing off their shirts, to each other and to their grandparents. Matty gurgled to Bella when she walked over to us, and she took him, nuzzling his neck as I hugged her to my side.
Once everyone had settled down again, Charlie helped my dad bring in hot chocolate for everyone. Jordan, Tommy, and even Lilly got regular mugs like the adults, while the other kids got new Christmas-themed sippy cups to try to avoid spilling it all over the carpet.
As Emmett started up How the Grinch Stole Christmas—the 1966 version, not the Jim Carrey adaptation—Bella handed Matt off to the grandparents to pass around and then took her mug from my hand and snuggled into my side.
We were completely crowded, on every piece of furniture and free space on the floor, but with the lights down and the Christmas lights sending a colorful rainbow through the room, no one seemed to mind a bit.
Three hours later, Bella, Rose, and Alice were back in the living room after trying valiantly to get the kids to sleep. We'd listened to nearly twenty minutes of begging and pleading for us to let them sleep in the living room, under the lights of the Christmas tree, but when Charlie had finally reminded them that if they slept in the living room, Santa couldn't visit, they'd relented.
Jordan had offered up her room for the girls, so while she was in her bed, Lilly, Olivia, and Grace were bunked down on a bed of blankets on her floor. Similarly, the boys were in with Tommy. Matty, on the other hand, was being well looked after by my parents, allowing Bella and me to finish wrapping gifts. Then we would sleep in the living room on the pull-out couch, letting pregnant Alice and Jasper have one guest room and my parents, the other.
"So, what still needs wrapping?" I asked, looking down at my wife, who was snuggled into my side. We hadn't started yet, afraid the kids weren't truly asleep.
Keeping her voice low, she replied, "For the twins, there are some dress-up outfits, the toy kitchen, and some of the play food. I already wrapped the clothes, books, games, and other stuff for the kitchen."
Bella had found a huge deluxe play kitchen for the girls, and we'd stocked up on everything they could possibly need and want to go with it.
"Mm, and the kitchen's in the garage?" I asked, knowing she'd brought it here to keep it away from prying eyes last month when she bought it.
"Yup," she answered. "For Mase, everything is wrapped except the Nerf gun, remote control truck, and Legos."
We'd also gotten him a new bike, but we weren't wrapping it. That would just be left under the tree with a tag on it.
"Good. Shouldn't take long to knock all that out, then," I said, kissing the top of her head as the rest of the family—minus the kids—made their way back into the living room.
"Wanna watch a movie while we wait for the kids to be out?" Alice asked, looking around.
At our nods, she popped in a DVD, and we all settled in comfortably on the large couches and chairs, sipping the new hot chocolates my mom and Sue had carried in on trays. It was a peaceful, quiet scene, which was a relief after so many hours of all the excited kids, and before long, several soft snores could be heard around the room.
"Good night, Mom," I said, hugging Esme. She and Carlisle were headed back to Forks.
She laughed as she pulled away, looking me over. "It's been a long day, hasn't it?"
I nodded, rolling my eyes, even as I smiled. "I think Christmas morning means an automatic inner alarm for all kids."
My thoughts immediately went back to way too early that morning, how early I'd been woken up by the kids.
"Shh, 'Livia!" I heard my son's loud whisper. "Grace, don't wake Mommy and Daddy!"
"I wanna wake Aunt Bella!" Henry's voice—already hyper at the crack of dawn—rang out.
"Not yet, munchkin," Jordan told him quietly. "Let Aunt Bella and Uncle Edward sleep for a bit. Come on. Let's check out what Santa left us in the stockings."
Not wanting to spoil their fun, I cracked my eyes open, only to find myself staring into deep green ones only inches away. Edward was wide awake already, holding in his own chuckles as we listened to seven pairs of feet shuffle around the living room.
There were gasps as each kid dumped the contents of their stocking on the floor, finding everything from new toothbrushes and socks for everyone, to books and makeup for the oldest, and crayons and other little things for the youngest.
"Ready to face the day?" Edward said, his whisper barely audible.
I yawned and shook my head no, but opened my mouth anyway. "Whatcha doin?" I asked aloud.
There were gasps, and then four little bodies rushed up onto the bed with us.
"Mommy!" Grace breathed, climbing under the blanket with me and wrapping her arms around my neck. "Santa comed!"
Laughing, I nodded. "I know, sweetie. I could tell by all the noise. Did you get some good stuff in your stocking?"
"I gots some socks," Henry said with a groan. "Aunt Bella, why'd Santa hafta bring me socks?" He sounded so exasperated that I couldn't help but laugh.
"Did you just get socks?" Edward asked, reaching out from around Olivia and Masen, who'd planted themselves on his belly once he'd rolled to his back.
"No," Lilly said suddenly from beside the bed. "They got lotsa stuff. Can I go get my mommy and daddy up now?" she asked, looking over at me.
"What time is it, you guys?" I mumbled through a yawn.
Jordan laughed. "Six thirty. I held them back as long as I could, but Tommy knocked on my door at six and said Masen and Henry were itching to get out there. We kept everyone in my room until they were about to vibrate right out of their skin."
Nodding, I sighed. "Yeah, sweetie," I told Lilly. "Go and quietly wake up your mom and dad. Jordan, go with her and get your parents and Nana and Papi up, too. Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Sue will be here soon."
She scampered off, Jordan right behind her, as the little ones crawled off the bed and moved back to their spots on the floor.
"Come on, love," Edward murmured, moving to kiss me once. "Time to face the masses."
"I'm ready for bedtime," I told Esme.
She just laughed and moved on to hug Edward.
"Give us a call when you get home. Drive safely," I said as I hugged Carlisle. "Thanks for everything."
"You're most welcome, sweetheart," he replied. "Just let us know when you want us to watch the kids, and you can redeem those cruise tickets, all right?"
I nodded and then let him go so he could say goodbye to Edward.
The kids had all said their goodbyes already and were playing with their new toys, but when the front door opened, a thunder of footsteps could be heard coming from the living room into the entry way.
"Papi! Nana!" someone called.
"One more hug!" another voice said loudly.
After one more round of hugs from everyone, Emmett helped Carlisle carry out their overnight bag and stack of gifts, letting in a blast of cold air.
Esme handed Matt to me, gave each of the kids one last hug and kiss, and then followed her husband out into the winter evening.
"Ready to go home?" Edward asked.
I nodded as Matt gave a quiet whimper. "Yeah. Matt needs to be fed, and I'd rather be home so I could put him right to bed after." Then I looked at my husband and smiled. "In a minute, though."
Edward returned my smile and wrapped his arms around me, one hand cradling Matt against my chest. We stood together, enjoying the quiet moment.