The Best Christmas Ever
Audrey smiled as she watched Alicia and Jackie open their presents. Their eyes shone with excitement as they tore the wrapping paper from each box to reveal a new treasure, and their giggles and squeals of delight might as well have been a symphony to Audrey. She loved her granddaughters dearly and enjoyed nothing more than seeing them play and listening to their carefree laughter. She glanced over at her daughter Kate, who seemed to be having as much fun as her own daughters. When their father passed away, Alicia and Jackie had a very difficult time dealing with the tremendous loss, and they hadn't had many opportunities to even smile, let alone laugh, so Kate was relieved and very happy to see them finally having so much fun these many months later.
'Thanks Grandma!' Jackie shouted, holding up a Playstation game disc. 'I've been dying to get this one, this is great!'
'But why are you thanking me, honey? Shouldn't you be thanking Santa instead?' Audrey asked coyly.
'Oh come on, Grandma. Nobody believes in Santa anymore,' Jackie said, shaking her head in disbelief at her old-fashioned grandmother. 'Besides, I can tell it's from you by the handwriting on the tag, silly.' Jackie smiled triumphantly.
'My, Jackie, you're just getting too smart for me,' Audrey said as she squeezed the ten-year-old affectionately.
'What do you mean, Grandma? I'll never be as smart as you or Mom.' 'Oh, you're so sweet, Jackie, but you just wait until you have children of your own, dear. You'll see.' She kissed Jackie and hugged her again, then said, 'Now get back to your presents and let's see what else you've gotten.' 'Yeah, come on, Jackie, or I'll start opening your presents for you!', twelve-year-old Alicia said jokingly.
'Oh no you don't!' shouted Jackie, her head spinning toward Alicia as if it were on ball bearings.
As Jackie jumped back over to the large brightly decorated tree and rejoined Alicia, a wistful feeling came over Audrey and she sat back in her chair staring absently out the living room window. A light snow had begun to fall and as Audrey watched the flakes gingerly settling on the large pine tree just outside, her mind started to drift back in time. Being here with her granddaughters reminded her of the fun she used to have when she was a young mother and Kate was a little girl. 'Hey, I'm getting tired of you two having all the fun. Now it's my turn!' Kate said, sitting down on the floor next to Alicia and Jackie. She laughed as the three of them hugged.
Audrey's mind went even further back. Soon she found herself dredging up long-forgotten memories of her own childhood Christmases with her parents, and her eyes misted over with tears of remembrance. How she suddenly longed for those days! She was not an overly sentimental person, but something about being here with her daughter and grandchildren was having an inexplicable effect on her.
'Mom, are you OK?' Audrey jumped in her chair, startled by Kate's question. 'Oh, yes dear, my mind was just wandering for a moment,' Audrey said. 'Were you crying?' Kate asked as she knelt in front of her mother. 'It's nothing really, Kate. I was just thinking about how much everything has changed over the years, that's all. I'm just being a sentimental old fool.' Kate took Audrey's hand and squeezed it gently. 'You'll never be old or a fool to me, Mom,' she said with a smile.
'Thanks, honey,' Audrey said. 'Now get back down there with your kids, will you?'
Kate returned to her daughters and Audrey tried to focus on the festivities but again found her thoughts returning to Christmases past.
'Why can't I get this out of my mind?' Audrey asked herself. She looked out the window again at the falling snow. She started to feel strange; almost hypnotized as she continued to stare at the flakes. But try as she might, she couldn't look away. At first she felt she would panic, but the longer she gazed out the window, the more calm and at peace she felt. Suddenly the window flew open by itself, allowing wind and snow into the room. Audrey tried to get up to close it but couldn't move; she couldn't even turn her head or speak. The wind seemed to head directly toward Audrey, surrounding her with a column of swirling snow, so thick that she couldn't see past it. Then it abruptly ended: the wind withdrew, sucking the snow out with it like a huge vacuum cleaner, and the window closed.
Audrey sat in shock, trying to comprehend what had just happened. She found she could move again and looked back at Kate, Alicia and Jackie, who were still opening presents, seemingly oblivious to anything else. 'Did anybody see that?' she asked nervously.
'See what, Grandma?' Alicia asked, not looking up from the ribbon she was trying to pull off of a box.
'The window...it opened up on its own. Didn't you see the snow blowing around the room?'
'What are you talking about, Grandma? I didn't see anything.' 'Me neither, Grandma,' said Jackie.
Kate got up and sat down next to Audrey, a look of concern clouding her face. 'Mom, are you sure you're all right? You seem to be acting a little...strange today.'
'You mean you didn't see that either, Kate? The wind, the snow blowing around?'
'No,' Kate said, shaking her head slowly. 'How are you feeling? You're not getting sick are you?' Kate put a hand on her mother's forehead.
'Oh no, Kate, please, I'm not sick, I'm just fine. In fact, I feel better than I have in a long time,' Audrey said. 'I know what I saw though. That window opened up by itself and closed by itself. And please stop staring at me as if I were crazy.'
Kate smiled and said, 'Mom, I know you're not crazy, I just think your imagination may be a bit overactive today with everything going on.' 'Kate, it was NOT my imagination,' Audrey said, slightly annoyed by what she felt was her daughter's condescending tone. 'I'm sorry, Mom, I didn't mean to...' 'Ow!'
Kate stopped short when she heard Alicia's cry. 'What's wrong, honey? Are you OK?' she asked, kneeling down in front of her daughter.
'My clothes feel really tight all of a sudden,' complained Alicia. 'That's odd, let me see,' said Kate. Indeed, Alicia's baggy pink T-shirt seemed very snug, especially the sleeves. Her shorts were getting so tight that her thighs were pooching out around the leg openings.
'What's going on here?' Kate asked with growing concern. Alicia stood up, with some difficulty, and reached down to pull off her shrinking Keds. 'I don't know, Mom, but my shoes are killing me,' said Alicia. The first shoe required considerable effort to remove, and she didn't think the second would even come off, but after struggling with it it finally popped off. 'I don't know what's happening Mom, but I'm really uncomfortable, and it's getting worse.'
'Me too, Mom,' said Jackie, standing next to Alicia. 'My clothes are starting to get tight, too.'
Kate's concern was quickly changing to panic when she saw the same thing happening to Jackie. 'Are you sure these clothes didn't just shrink in the laundry?' she asked, almost to herself. She knew that wasn't the case, but she was grasping at straws now.
'No, Mom, I can feel everything getting tighter,' said Alicia. Kate looked at her eldest daughter and felt a pang of fear. Had Alicia gotten taller? She could swear she had grown an inch or two from just a minute ago. Alicia's shorts emitted a loud ripping sound as the rear seam began to separate, and Kate could actually see the shorts getting tighter as she watched, confirming that Alicia was in fact growing.
'I have to go take these clothes off, I can't stand it anymore!' she cried and ran toward her bedroom. She even sounds different, thought Kate. 'I'd better change too,' Jackie said, following her sister.
'What's going on, Kate?' asked Audrey. Kate turned to answer her mother and stopped short with a gasp.
'Mom? What's happening to you?' Audrey's hair which had been streaked with gray was darker with just a few strands of gray woven here and there through the brunette, and her face looked fresher. She looked more like a woman in her mid forties than a 52-year-old.
'Why, nothing dear. In fact I feel very good, as good as I've felt in years,' smiled Audrey. 'I was even thinking that you look better, too. I do hope the children are OK, though.'
'Oh my God!' said Kate as she ran to the mirror hanging near the front door. She was relieved at first to see she didn't really look different, but then she noticed that her face seemed smoother. The tiny lines that had lately appeared around her eyes were gone. 'Now I'm getting younger! Why is this happening?'
'Don't worry about it, dear. I'm sure things will work out,' Audrey said reassuringly.
'How can you say that, Mom? My family's changing right before my eyes! My kids have outgrown their clothes in a matter of minutes, and my own mother looks ten years younger! And you say don't worry about it?'
As Audrey began to retreat from middle age, something in her mind was telling her that this was how things should be; that somehow her reminiscing about Christmases of the past was going to set things right for her family. She felt calm and at peace, more than she had in a very long time. 'It's OK, Kate,' said Audrey. 'Just let it happen, dear, and everything will be fine.'
By now, Audrey was an attractive 38-year-old. Her solidly brunette hair had grown down to her shoulders and her skin was regaining its youthful elasticity. Kate, meanwhile, was an even more youthful 22, and found her clothes were feeling loose as she had lost the weight she had gained after her children were born. 'Mom, I, I don't know what to do, this is just getting weirder all the time. This isn't right, we have to fix this!' Her auburn hair flowed down her back and her figure, which had started to fade as she gained weight, was back in full flower, with full breasts and hips and slim waist.
Suddenly, a beautiful blonde woman in her twenties burst into the room followed closely by a pretty brunette teenage girl. Both of them were holding towels around themselves. 'Mom, what the hell is...Mom? Grandma?' The blonde woman stopped in mid-sentence, staring wide-eyed at the two women standing in the living room, one college-age and the other apparently in her early thirties. 'Alicia? Jackie...I think?' Kate asked incredulously. Alicia was already fast approaching 30 as she spoke: 'Mom, you're so young! And Grandma! Oh my God!' She was already considerably older than her own mother and was almost the same age as Audrey, who was approaching from the other direction. Jackie and Kate were likewise about to meet at the same age. As Jackie hit twenty Kate re-entered her late teens and was now the youngest of the four women.
'Mom? How could I be your Mom? You're older than me, duh!' said the 18-year-old Kate.
Jackie and Alicia became more confused as they aged. These two women were their mother and grandmother, they knew, yet it seemed less and less logical as Jackie was now a gorgeous full-figured woman in her early to mid-twenties and Alicia was a still-attractive-though-aging blonde in her late thirties. Her hair wasn't quite as thick and lustrous as it had been a few minutes ago, and crows feet were starting to appear at the corners of her eyes.
Audrey was back to her mid-twenties and was just slightly older than Jackie. Her hair had grown down to her waist and she once again possessed a fantastic hourglass figure, although it was hidden by her loose skirt and blouse. Her conservative clothes looked very much out of place on a woman so young and beautiful. 'And there's no way I'm a grandmother,' Audrey said as she walked over and stood in front of Alicia. 'You're way older than me, I mean look at yourself. You could almost be my mother, and look at me.' Audrey ran her hands up and down her sides and tossed her head back so her hair fell back over her shoulders and down her back. 'Do I look like anybody's grandmother to you?' She smiled seductively at Alicia, who just stood speechless as she passed forty. 'I didn't think so,' said Audrey, turning around and walking away. She stopped in front of the hall mirror and admired her good looks. More years had fallen away leaving her at around twenty, able to easily pass as a college student.
'I have to get out of these stupid clothes,' complained thirteen-year-old Kate, who was losing height as she approached puberty in reverse. The figure she had just regained moments ago had all but disappeared again, leaving her with just a hint of a curve around her hips. Her breasts had been reduced to small bumps more suitable for a training bra than the 36C she was barely wearing. She had to hold her slacks to keep them from falling down, and her top was hanging off of one shoulder. She started to head for her bedroom to change, but something made her stop and go into Jackie's room instead.
Speaking of Jackie, she had reached 27 and had even started putting on a little weight on top of her already full figure. She was still very attractive, but her face was getting a little fuller than she would have liked, and her tummy was starting to bulge slightly. Her rear end was also getting a little too wide for her taste. She was becoming quite critical of her looks. 'I've gotta start working out more. It's not like I've had kids already or anything...is it?' As she spoke those words, reality was subtly shifting in Jackie's mind, and she looked at the increasingly youthful Audrey. 'That's my Grandma, I think. But how could she be? I'm so much older than she is...'
Alicia was almost 50, and starting to feel it. Small aches and pains had sprung up in her knees and back, and she found herself looking for the nearest chair where she could sit and rest for a bit. The youthful energy she had when she first came back into the room as a young woman had been replaced with a mild but persistent lethargy. She felt tired and just wanted to sit and watch her grandchildren open their presents. Wait a minute. She didn't have any grandchildren...at least she didn't think so. She looked at Audrey, her 14-year-old grandmother who was having trouble with her oversize clothes, similar to Kate. Then she looked down at herself. Even her towel didn't hide the fact that she was now a middle-aged matron. Her once substantial cleavage had disappeared as her breasts began to sag more and more, and her flowing blonde hair had become thin, short and speckled with gray. She ran her fingertips over her face and felt the lines that creased the loose skin. Her lips were thin and wrinkled, and her cheeks were drooping, forming slight jowls. No, there was no way that Audrey, cute little 12-year-old Audrey, was her grandmother. She herself was the only grandmother around here, and it was up to her to act like it. After all, she was 52.
Kate found a pair of red knee-length shorts and a green top that fit her perfectly in Jackie's, er, her room. She quickly put on a pair of white socks and black patent leather maryjanes and ran back out to finish opening up her presents. She was a typical 10-year-old with her auburn hair pulled back in a ponytail, and skinny arms and legs. She felt so full of energy, like she had never felt before, and it was Christmas too! She couldn't remember ever being so excited. She ran into the living room and made a beeline right for her spot beside the huge tree.
Audrey had finally had enough of fighting these goofy clothes that she had put on for whatever reason, and she had followed Kate's lead and gone into her room to change as well. She threw the tentlike blouse and skirt on the bed and quickly changed into something more appropriate for her age, then she brushed her shoulder-length hair, parting it in the middle. She went back out to the living room wearing a pink tank-top, blue shorts and sneakers. 'OK, I'm ready, let's get back to the presents!' she announced.
'Well, since you kids went back and changed, that's the least we can do,' said Jacqueline, smiling at her two girls. 'I feel a little peculiar sitting out here in just a towel, anyway. What about you, Mom?' Jacqueline asked. 'I was thinking exactly the same thing, dear. Let's go,' agreed Alicia. 'Well, hurry up, we've been waiting forEVER,' said Katie. 'I can't wait much longer, Mom.'
'Calm down, girls,' Jacqueline laughed at her daughter's youthful impatience. 'We'll be right back, OK?'
As Audrey watched them heading toward the bedroom she thought, 'I know what you're going through, dear. Kids on Christmas morning are like jumping beans, they just can't sit still even for a second.' Whoa, where did that come from? She was only twelve years old and she was talking like SHE was the Grandma. That was weird.
'Hey, Audrey,' said Katie, bringing Audrey back to reality. 'Look at all this cool stuff we've gotten so far, and we're not even halfway done! Don't you think this is just the best Christmas ever?'
Audrey was about to answer when she stopped short. She could have sworn she heard sleigh bells off in the distance, and a deep voice laughing 'Ho-ho-ho', then it was gone.
She thought for a moment, then smiled and said, 'Yeah, Katie, I think this is the best Christmas ever.'