On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me twelve drummers drumming.
The little boy came down the street on Christmas morning. He had a snare drum held in a strap that hung down from his shoulder to belt around his waist. He pounded a particular beat with every step of his left foot. When he came to the corner he turned left so that he wouldn’t cross the street.
Brian watched from his front window until the little boy was out of sight. He smiled and shook his head as he drank his cup of coffee. Pulling a dining room chair over to the picture window, he sat down and propped his feet up on the sill. It was nice to have the house to himself.
Surprisingly he didn’t feel alone. He had only been married four years out of his thirty-six, so he was back to where he’d been every year since he turned eighteen and left home. Cami had wanted children, he hadn’t. It was as simple as that. He’d told her before they ever discussed marriage that he couldn’t take on the responsibility of children.
Closing his eyes, he sighed. Nope, there was no chance that he would risk screwing up a child. Opening his eyes he was surprised to see that a second little boy had joined the first. He carried the same drum and banged the same beat in time with his left foot hitting the ground.
Brian took a sip of coffee and thought about parents watching their kids opening presents. Everyone sitting around in bathrobes and pajamas, wads of ripped wrapping paper everywhere. Smiles and laughter as presents they’d asked Santa for were found. Some, he knew would sit amid a mound of toys, clothes and books, disappointed that they hadn’t received that gift that had been out of reach even for Santa. One that they knew would be too expensive, too hard to find or just too impossible for one reason or another.
He glanced up in time to see the two little boys joined by another from across the street, his dad bringing him, then watching the three of them step out down the sidewalk. He briefly wondered if a local store or even an online retailer had run a special on drums. Brian was glad he had this chance to enjoy the quite.
He took a sip of coffee and looked down his driveway then across the street as another little boy came out, his mother following him to the corner to his right. They crossed and waited.
Very strange. Was there some kind of program they were practicing for? Maybe a day after Christmas pageant? Surely there wouldn’t be a Christmas day program. He frowned as he watched five little boys reach the corner and become six. The sidewalk was wide enough that they walked three across.
Christmas. Last chance to be disappointed for the year.
The quiet that surrounded him was nice. It was what he liked about living alone. No incessant chattering, no questions flung out at you so fast that you couldn’t tell one from the other. No one to look out for other than himself. All he had to do was sit here surrounded by peace and quiet while sipping his coffee.
He watch the little boys walk past his driveway in perfect step with one another. He wondered how many more would be joining them. Or how long it would be before he could hear them from where he sat.
Drinking his coffee he thought about how nice it was to watch the world go past his front window. How peaceful it was here in his front room. He closed his eyes and thought about Christmas. How the good memories stayed with you while the bad stayed locked away. It was almost like there had never been any bad Christmas’, no disappointments at not finding ….
He opened his eyes. The sidewalk was full of little boys with drums. One, two, three … he frowned. Twelve little boys with drums marched past the front of his house. As the last row of three passed his driveway, the middle one waved to him. He had a big grin.
He shook his head and closed his eyes again. He must be dreaming. He didn’t know any children, any little boys with gap-toothed grins that looked so much like his first grade picture.
Pop! Boom! Brian opened his eyes and sat up straight.
“Daddy! Look what grandma got me!”
Brian blinked, licked his lips and blinked again. “What?” He looked at his son Steve. “I see. Wasn’t that nice of grandma.” He looked at his wife.
She snickered. “Wait until you see what my mother got him.”
“Mommy!” Tami squealed. “Look! It’s what I asked Santa for.” She hugged a doll nearly as big as her. Setting the doll carefully beside her on the floor she looked in the box again. “Yea! She came with a princess dress” Tami looked at her father. “Can you twirl both of us?”
Brian smiled. “After breakfast, sweetie.”
Cami looked at him. “And what is for breakfast?”
He smiled as he heard the buzzer go off. “Oh, this and that.” He smiled as his children sat amid their open presents and ripped wrapping paper. They smiled at him.
“It’s a surprise, mommy!” They said together. “We helped!”
“Who wants to help me …?” That’s as far as he got before they jumped up and ran into the dining room. He smile at his wife as he stood up. Holding out his hand. “Would you care to join us for breakfast?” He heard their children setting the table.
“Depends.” She took his hand and pulled herself to her feet. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she kissed him. After a moment, she drew back and looked into his eyes. “Is it sinfully delicious and decadent? Better than last years?”
“Daddy!” Their children yelled. “Hurry up!”
“I’ll let you decide.” He led her into the kitchen and held her chair for her. After seating her he turned to the stove, turned off the buzzer and grabbed a pair of hot pads. Taking the pan out of the oven, he set it on a rack on the stove top.