Emery loved everything about Christmas, except the fact that Miles wanted to get up extra early. Their father would too, he was sure. He pulled the blankets over his head as the lights in the sitting room came on.

“Merry Christmas, Emery,” Nathaniel said as he peeked into the bedroom. “Emery,” he repeated.

Emery moaned and snuggled deeper into his blankets. He was warm, cozy and almost asleep when the light above him popped on. Groaning, he burrowed deeper into his pillows.

“Merry Christmas, Emery,” Nathaniel said again. There was a soft giggle from the doorway.

Suddenly the warm and cozy blankets were pulled off of him and as Emery tried to catch them, he felt someone catch his waist. His eyes popped open as he was tickled. Giggling, he tried to glare at his father, who was the one tickling him. “Dad!”

“Merry Christmas, Brother,” Miles said from the doorway. “Are you ready to open presents?”

“Right,” Emery said. He rolled out of bed and grabbed his bathrobe. He tried to shrug into it but lost track of the arm. For a moment he chased the garment around in a circle. Then his brother helped him and guided him out into the sitting room. “It’s still dark out, Mi,” he said as he looked out the window. Then he blinked in shock. “It must have snowed a foot… at least.”

“Two feet,” Nathaniel said, sounding a touch over-cheerful at the prospect. “The snow that started as we were leaving church last night really mounted up. We’re snowed in. Let’s go open some gifts.”

Emery smiled tiredly and followed his father out of the room. His medicine was already waiting for him and he smiled his thanks at Miles as he picked it up. The family headed into the dining room. The tree was piled with gifts and Emery smiled tiredly. “Merry Christmas, Dad. Mery Christmas, Miles.”

“Merry Christmas, Emery,” Miles said. He bounded into the room and grabbed a beaten elf cap. “I’ll give out the gifts,” he exclaimed.

“How about you let me do it this year,” Nathaniel said.

“Right, Dad,” Miles said, handing him the hat. He plopped down on the floor beside his brother and grinned.

“We have to give you yours though,” Emery said. He smiled as his father handed him a wrapped box. He slowly unwrapped the box as Miles tore into a similar one. As the paper was removed a beautifully carved wooden box was revealed. “Is this what I think it is?” he asked.

“It’s a wand case! Dad, it’s beautiful! Thanks so much.” He stood and hugged the older man. He hopped back down on the floor and grinned at his brother.

Nathaniel was opening the gift that Emery had chosen for him. He smiled as he drew a new suit jacket out of the box. “What a fine jacket, Emery. Thank you so much.”

Emery grinned. He looked down at the wand case and opened it. It had a fold out panel that gave access to more space for wands deeper inside. “We can fit all our tools in these,” he said softly. “Thanks Dad.”

Nathaniel nodded and smiled as Emery looked outside. The stars were twinkling in the sky. The snow was thick and white on the rolling hills and here and there white globes shined through the darkened street. “It’s beautiful outside.”

“It really is,” Nathaniel said. “We’ve each opened one gift. How about we set this aside and go for a walk.”

“There’s two feet of snow,” Miles said with a giggle.

“And we’re in our pajamas,” Emery added.

“We used to go out every Christmas morning after opening one gift,” Nathaniel said. “Your mother and I, I mean. I want to show you something.”

Miles hopped to his feet and Emery stood more slowly. In moments, they were bundled and out into the predawn light. They were magicians so they didn’t have to trudge through the snow. Nathaniel led the way toward the small copse of trees that wasn’t far from the back of the house.

“Look up,” he said, pointing into the sky. “This is the perfect time to see it. Look just there, that way.”
Emery looked up. Just above the trees he could see a pair of stars that almost seemed like eyes staring down at him. Nathaniel sighed softly. “Even if I didn’t want to admit it, your mother knew she was going to die. She told me that those stars would be her eyes, watching me when she was gone. They rise at nearly dawn.”

“She’s always there, even when we can’t see her,” Emery said softly. “Thanks for sharing it with us, Dad.”

“It’s beautiful here,” Miles said softly. “The snow coating the trees like icing on a gingerbread house.” He smiled and rocked on his heels.

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