“Christmas Eve,” Emery murmured. He remembered the Christmases they’d spent with their parents before they’d gone to school; before their father had disappeared and their mother had died. He sighed softly. The past few Christmases had been spent in a little dorm room, then a small flat they’d rented. This was their first Christmas back in the Ballard homestead.

It was so like he remembered that he could almost smell the Christmas cookies and cakes his mother had baked. The fresh-cut tree stood in the parlor, decked with berries and popcorn strings, candles in little cups and sprigs of plant tied with bright ribbons. Mistletoe hung over the door to remind them how to greet Christmas visitors.

Miles had put one of their father’s Christmas records on to listen to while he wrapped presents. A fire crackled merrily on the hearth. Snow had hushed the outside sounds of the valley, aside from the occasional chime of sleigh bells.

The sky was a brilliant blue now that the storm had past. The moon hung, opposite the sun as it always was if seen during the day. He remembered their mother telling them that angels lived on the moon when they’d pressed her about the whys and hows of Christmas. The moon’s angels watched the little children on the earth below and told Father Christmas who was good and who was naughty.

“What are you doing, brother?” Miles asked softly as he came to stand behind Emery.

“Just day dreaming,” he murmured. “It’s good to be home.”

“It feels like… somehow, even though she’s gone, Mom is here,” Miles agreed.

“Yeah,” Emery replied. “The presents aren’t going to wrap themselves and we have service later, let’s go.” Miles nodded and bounded back to the parlor. Emery took one last look at the soft white moon before following him. Maybe their mom was there still, watching over them.

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