"I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree.” [x][x]
Sally Jackson’s brown eyes sparkled as she stared at the clock—11:45. Perhaps she should be doing something else with her hands. Knitting? Sewing? Maybe writing up the sequel to her novel… Anything to distract her from the heart-breaking thought that her son might not be home in time for their Christmas Eve tradition. Fifteen minutes left. She sighed and leaned back into her red plush chair beside the Christmas tree.
"Sally," Paul chided, lowering the christmas novel that earlier covered his face. He looked sternly at his fiancé and pouted. "He’s going to be here."
"I know," she offered. "But—"
"No ‘buts,’" he scolded, taking a sip form his hot chocolate. "I have absolute faith in your son. Don’t you?"
"Alright, alright." She sighed again—it was silly of her to worry. After everything her son has been through, one thing she was sure of was that he would keep his promises to her. Sally loved her son with all her heart—and fear would not cloud that. “I’ll stop worrying, okay?”
"Good," he smiled. Paul stood up and walked over to Sally to kiss her forehead. "No more worrying. I’ll just refill the mugs."
Left to the silence of her thoughts, Sally closed her eyes and thought back to all the times she had stressed over making it home for Christmas by the time her son were awake. The candy shop in Grand Central usually made her fuss about getting home early, but over the years, she figured that if she ran the mile from the station to her apartment, she’d still find Percy sound asleep in his bed, drooling to the vision of Santa and his presents.
"Wake up, Percy," she whispered. "Mommy’s home."
He would yawn—then his eyes would glaze over. “Is it Christmas, mommy?”
"Just a few more minutes!" she would smile. Then, albeit her exhaustion and the dark circles that ringed her eyes, she would take Percy into her arms and spin her little angel around, energy renewed by a deep love.
As they laughed, she would kiss his face and carry him outside to the Christmas tree, where they would wait for the clock to strike twelve. Sitting in front of the meagre tree they could afford, Sally and Percy would plug in the lights at midnight and watch the tree glow brightly to signal Christmas day.
Little Percy would then give his mommy a kiss on the cheek, and they would be alright.
They did this every year.
Sally tensed up as she heard the knob on her door shake with effort, like someone was trying to open it with a key. She braced herself.
“Yeah, I know—it’s like nothing’s changed,” a familiar voice cried from the entry hall of the apartment. It was then followed by a soft giggle that Sally had grown accustomed to over the past years.
"What was that for, Seaweed Brain?" the faint voice asked, and her son replied.
And with that, the messy dark hair appeared from the corner of the wall, and Sally’s eyes brimmed with tears. Suddenly, she was crying all over the place, struggling to get out of her seat to hold Percy and Annabeth close to her heart. Shaky, she wrapped her arms around the couple, her nose stuffed with ocean and lemon, her heart full of love. Sally squeezed them tightly. Oh goodness—she never really knew how much she’d missed them. Not just Percy, but Annabeth as well, who had become her daughter so long ago.
Percy chuckled under his breath, wiping tears from his eyes. “I-I missed you too, mom.”
"Always so irresponsible," she sobbed, stepping back to kiss the couple on the cheek. "Why are you always late?"
"We’re sorry about that," Annabeth apologized, one hand on Sally’s shoulder and another in Percy’s.
"There were monsters in the subway," he shrugged, wiping his arm across his face. "And you should’ve seen the airport, mom—everyone was coming home!”
Sally’s breath hitched. “You’re home, too,” she said, as if she couldn’t believe it. “The both of you are home.”
"We are," Percy nodded, eyes darting from Annabeth’s to his mom’s. "I am. With you guys, I’m home."
Annabeth rolled her eyes but smiled. “Always so cheesy.”
"Oh, Percy, I was so afraid you wouldn’t show up," Sally admitted, beckoning the couple to sit beside the tree. 11:55.
"Mom," Percy sighed, sitting cross legged and pulling his girlfriend to sit on his lap. "I’ll always be home for Christmas. Always. And I’ll never miss the lighting for anything in the world.”
"Paul, dear," Sally called from her seat, one hand on the plug and another on the socket. "We’re about to light it!"
Just as her fiancé came from the kitchen with two mugs in hand, he almost dropped them at the sight of Percy and Annabeth seated on the floor. After hurriedly exchanging a few hugs and greetings, Paul sat beside Sally and together, they counted until the clock struck twelve. Until it was Christmas time.
“Five, four, three, two, one—
The tree lit up, Percy kissed Sally’s cheek, Christmas Eve was Christmas Eve, and all was well for their family.
They were home.