Christmas shopping was almost as fun as Black Friday shopping. Maybe it was because I knew Brandon would be home for the whole Christmas break. I’d already purchased Brandon’s gift, and mom’s, so all I really needed was something silly and fun for the twins.
It wasn’t really necessary to drive around to five different stores to pick something out, but that’s what we did. It’s possible we had more fun shopping for the twins than they would have wearing their new matching ponytail headbands, one pink, one blue.
The twins came over on Christmas eve to exchange gifts. They got me the sweetest little pendent in the shape of a running shoe that read “Sole Sister”. They had adopted me as an honorary sister. It was touching.
Next, I handed Brandon a small flat box.
“You didn’t have to get me anything,” he said. The Christmas wrapping did little to conceal the slanted opening on the front. If a person stuck a thumb through the paper the contents would easily be exposed. He held it for just a few seconds and shook it lightly. “Uh…”
“What? Don’t judge it because it’s nice and light. You don’t even know what’s in the box.”
“Actually… I might know more than you think.” He pulled a matching box out from behind his back and held it beside mine in his other hand. The boxes were identical other than the different wrapping paper. He sheepishly handed the one to me.
“You’re kidding,” I said, shaking his box the same way he’d shaken mine.
“Maybe we should open them at the same time,” he suggested. We held eye contact as we tore open the wrapping paper.
Matching Brooks running gloves, mine just a little smaller than his. Lightweight, warm, perfect for an early morning run in northern Michigan. I wanted to jump up and find my running shoes.
“Hold them up so I can get a photo,” Mom said. We did. Sitting side by side, we held up the matching gloves. Mom gazed down at her phone where our photo shone up to her and she sighed. “All those years growing up, I always wished your father had lived longer so I could have given you a sibling. And now look, you have a wonderful brother.”
Brother. There was that word again. I changed the subject. “Here, Mom, open mine next.”
I had bought her a classy pair of driving gloves. They hadn’t cost me nearly as much as the gloves I’d bought for Brandon, but it didn’t occur to me to feel guilty until just that moment. I didn’t have time to dwell on it before Brandon handed a heavy parcel to my mom.
“I found this at a mall downstate a few months ago and thought of you, Mom.” Brandon’s voice was low and full of love. He didn’t have any other mom to spoil this year. So, he spoiled mine.
Mom pulled from the wrapping a small quilt, about the size of a throw, that was embroidered with countless roses. “It’s beautiful, Brandon.”
“This way you can have your garden all winter long.”
“You’re such a sweet boy,” she said, and bent down to give him a hug.
He wrapped his arms around her, then sat back onto the floor beside me and picked up both pairs of running gloves. “You ready to try these out?”
“Tonight?” I looked toward the window. The Christmas lights twinkled in reflections from the Christmas tree but the snow falling was evident. “What if Santa’s reindeer come along and hit us with his sleigh?”
“We’ll take our chances.” Brandon stood and reached his hand down to invite me to join him, then nodded to the twins. “Did you bring your running shoes?”
“Sorry, not what we normally wear in the snow,” Kat said. “We need to get going anyway. You two have fun.”
“Merry Christmas.” Krystal reached for a hug and that led to a circle of hugs as everyone said goodnight.
When the twins had gone, Brandon and I hurried around changing into running gear.
“I can’t believe we’re going out in this cold,” I said.
“It won’t be that bad. We have our new running gloves.” Brandon held up his hands with a sly grin.
“I’ll have hot cocoa ready when you guys get back,” Mom said, snuggling under her new throw and settling into the sofa.
We hurried down the two flights of stairs where we stretched and did a few jumping jacks in the foyer to warm ourselves up before braving the weather.
Our running shoes sank through the two-inch blanket of new-fallen snow, but we didn’t let it slow us down. We ran our usual path, down the peninsula and around the lighthouse, which sparkled with Christmas lights.
The soft waves lapping the shoreline were pushing through a hint of ice forming along the edge of the beach. The night air was crisp and peaceful as we ran in companionable silence back to the bed and breakfast. I smiled to think that Brandon would be here with me for another week and a half. A merry Christmas for me.
Running To You
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