Written in response to the Christmas Gift Exchange on Chit Chat On Author's Corner Forum. The assigned song title prompt and 3 prompts are: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer; Advent calendar, purple stocking, reading the Night Before Christmas (must use at least three.) This was written for GreekEMTSlytherinSpriteFairy. Merry Christmas!
Visions of Sugar Plums
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Snuggling with her daughter had to be the highlight of Jennifer Rossi's day. After everything they had been through, she reveled in the fact that she could hold her baby girl, tuck her tight, and just rock. All of the cares of the world seemed to just fade when she escaped to this magical moment of peace.
Humming to herself as the rocker glided back and forth, the simple swaying a part of the entire moment of magic, JJ smiled serenely as she glanced down at her sleepy girl's slack face. The day had finally taken its toll on them both. From the moment they had awakened that morning, the hours had flown by, activity piled on top of activity much like the stack of gifts that had grown astronomically throughout the day as their friends and family had arrived.
And Serena's coal-black eyes had widened in glee with each addition to her Christmas stash, as thrilled as any child would have been.
Shaking her head as she remembered Serena's excitement, JJ chuckled at the thought of Serena's toddler words babbling as quickly as her little tongue could move. The well-loved little girl had happily ripped open boxes that had been once wrapped with care, only to eagerly withdraw the gifts and then proceed to be enamored with the paper and bows. Which, according to all of the best parenting advice she had ever received, this was indeed the regular habits of toddlers around the world.
Parenting. Now, JJ found herself in that special club….of being a parent. Her life had somehow inexplicably shifted, and her career, important as it had once been, no longer seemed the be-all, end-all she had once imagined it to be. No, now she was a mother first and foremost. She had made this. Well, not alone, she chuckled to herself as she smiled at her daughter, well aware of her husband's quick assertion that he had definitely been involved in the process from the very beginning. They had made this, she amended . Somehow, against the odds, the stars had aligned, the universe had exploded into brilliance, and this beautiful, amazing work of God had been created.
Oh, the entire process hadn't been without its challenges. Her pregnancy had been less than ideal, their hopes crushed on a regular basis by nay-saying medical professionals who seemed determined to defeat even the glimmer of optimism. But as her best friend Penelope had been wont to tell her, loudly and often throughout the long, nerve-wracking days while she had been on bedrest, those idiots weren't God.
And Penelope had been right. For even though her baby girl's birth had been fraught with fear and even though Serena still faced health challenges that weren't fair or far from over and definitely weren't what any momma would want for her child, her daughter was happy. She was brilliant. She was mischievous and independent and determined to give them all a run for their proverbial money in spite of her diminished size.
Serena Rose Rossi was, in a word, perfect.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
Glancing up as soft footsteps sounded, JJ smiled at her husband. And as much as she was amazed at the fact that they had a little girl, she was still equally amazed at the fact that they were actually "them" and that he was her husband. What had started out as a let's-see-where-this-is-going-to-go quasi-relationship had quickly turned serious when the little white stick had delivered the unexpected news of the coming change to their now-joined lives. And yet, even though she had fully expected the great David Rossi to tuck tail and run screaming in the opposite direction, he had surprised her. He dug his heels in, settled in for the long haul, and actually relished the opportunity they had been given. And when the worst had almost happened and the oppressing weight had settled around them, he had been the one to make sure that they survived, no matter what the odds.
He had been, and was now, in a word, perfect.
Returning his wife's smile as he moved easily toward the stone hearth, Dave reached for the small velvet stocking that had fallen from the hook. Smoothing his fingers over the purple fabric with the large white S monogram as he placed it back on the mantle, Dave turned back toward his wife, only to wince as he stumbled. Glaring down at the stuffed animal on the floor, he grumbled as he picked up the brown deer, "Bella, you wanna tell me why the great Dr. Reid felt compelled to buy our daughter the entire stuffed version of Santa's sleigh-mates?"
Arching one brow as she propped her feet against the gliding ottoman, JJ met her husband's eyes. "I think it was sweet of Spence to want to give Serena the movie and toys, Dave. After all, he made sure that Rudolph was the prettiest with the purple bow. He wanted Serena to know that even though Rudolph wasn't the same as the other reindeer, he turned out to be the best of all."
"And now we're gonna have to watch that movie every single day, aren't we?" Dave groaned as he carefully deposited the toy in question on top of the mound that had grown in the corner. "You know our daughter, Bella. When she gets hooked on a movie, we're the ones that suffer."
"You can growl all you want to, Mr. Grinch, but I seem to remember you were the one who was teaching her how to play the Rudolph song on the electric keyboard that Morgan and Garcia got her," JJ countered, shifting her sleeping daughter to her husband's outstretched arms.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
Watching as he settled onto the leather sofa with his precious bundle, JJ couldn't help be still be amazed at how much her daughter favored her husband. From Serena's headful of black hair that had been evident on ultrasounds even before she was born to her ebony eyes that could drill a hole into anyone that was thwarting her evil plans for world domination, she was indeed a Rossi…and she even came fully equipped with the famous Rossi temper. Even while once ensconced inside a small incubator, Serena Rossi had had no qualms at informing the world at the top of her small lungs exactly how much she despised her surroundings. And although Dave liked to claim that JJ was indeed responsible for the genes that contributed to Serena's well-known displeasure, JJ knew better. Lots better.
She was married to a Rossi, after all, and was the mother of a Rossi. She could see that handwriting on the wall.
"Whatcha thinking, Bella?" Dave asked as JJ settled next to him.
"Just that it still seems strange that we're here this year and not stuck in that hospital." Shrugging as she reached for the throw over the back of the sofa, she draped it over their daughter, tucking the ends around her bare feet. For months and months they had tried to convince the now-toddler that socks were indeed beneficial and worn by all other members of the human race, but Serena had believed otherwise. So it had become JJ's mission in life to always keep those tiny toes covered in some form or fashion.
Wrapping his free arm around his wife's shoulders as he smirked at her usually futile efforts, he pulled her closer as he pressed a kiss against her hair. "She's better, babe. The transplant worked, remember? That light at the end of the tunnel really was there and we really did reach Nirvana." Chuckling as he wriggled his eyebrows, he added, "Although our first Christmas with an overactive toddler intent on screeching at the top of her lungs made the silence of the NICU look appealing again."
"Bite your tongue," JJ growled as she swatted at his shoulder. "We're never going back there, not a million years. Your ears will recover, trust me. And it's Christmas, so you've got a few weeks break before you have to go back out into the field, so you best get used to the noise, old man."
Rubbing the nape of her neck and grinning at the shiver that rolled through her body, Dave countered, "Just wait until our bundle of joy goes to sleep in her crib, Bella, and I'll show you who's a few years shy of old and well in control of all of his faculties. I think you've still got a special gift to unwrap, you know."
Giggling as her husband's fingers found a particularly sensitive spot, JJ winced as Serena growled in her sleep. Both of them stilled quickly, only letting out their breaths after the little girl quieted.
"That was your fault, Rossi," JJ accused even as she snuggled closer to her husband, their daughter wriggling and squirming until she was half on JJ's lap.
"Then I'd best make up for it before you find some devious way to make me pay." Reaching for the small book on the side table, Dave grinned as he showed it to JJ. "I thought we might continue our Christmas tradition."
JJ swallowed hard as she recognized the simple book. He had bought the plain paperback copy in the hospital gift shop when Serena had only been a month old, intent on reading it to his daughter on that first December 24th in spite of the fact that she had been on a ventilator and barely conscious. And feeling sudden tears slide down her cheek, JJ shook her head. "I thought we lost it in the move from the hospital to home. I was afraid that…"
"No more fears, remember?" Dave gently wiped the tears from her cheeks as he pressed a kiss to her lips. "I smuggled this one out before we made our great escape, sending it home with your parents for safe-keeping. Your dad brought it to me today."
Not able to speak, JJ merely nodded as she drew in a deep breath. The small, plain book that had only cost them a few dollars had become their first tradition as a family…and now, it was indeed a family tradition they intended to keep.
Flipping open the cover, Dave quipped, "Well, this would have been better if Piccola here had been awake, you know. Kinda loses something when your audience is already bored to dreamland."
"Make do, Rossi," JJ ordered, rolling her eyes as she tightened the blanket around Serena once again.
His deep voice filled the small den, his cadence almost rhythmic as he spoke of sugar-plums and long winter's naps. And as the world seemed to shrink around them, it became only the three of them.
Her family. Her everything.
She had dreamed of this. Throughout the months that they had been exiled to a small sterile room in the Children's Hospital, waiting with baited breath throughout every moment of every day to see if their little girl was going to show signs of improvement…any improvement!..JJ had forced herself to imagine days like this. She had escaped the horror of the beeps and clicks and ear-shattering alarms that had signaled certain doom by creating her own vision of the future. One day, she had known she would have a normal life with her little girl. She had to believe then that one day she would bake Christmas cookies with her daughter….would see her daughter running and playing with other little children…would hold her daughter's hand when she went off to school for the first time.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
And while Serena still had hurdles to jump and barriers to cross, JJ had no doubt now that they would make it. Those dreams would indeed come true. They were already coming true, after all. Everything in her life was centered around this blessing that she had been given.
And while she held her baby, her husband held her, protecting them both from the world at large that had at one time seemed determine to destroy the "them" that they had hoped to become. But in the end, they had won. Their little girl, while small for her age and still faced with challenges that would quell a lesser soul, was determined to prove the medical world at large wrong and take the entire universe by storm. Her husband would slay the dragons, both literal and figuratively, that foolishly attempted to breathe fire and destroy their happy home.
And as Jennifer Jareau Rossi snuggled in and let herself be calmed by her husband's strong baritone and the steady snuffles from her sleeping daughter, she smiled.
She knew now that her life was, in a word, perfect.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
As always, I could never write anything without my best friend and writing partner, ilovetvalot. I am a better writer because of her, and I am blessed to have her as my bestie…my BFF…my sister who shares my traveling pants!