I watch the waves roll on shore while smiling at the sight in front of me. The chair next to me scrapes off the concrete as Max takes a seat.
“Christmas in California,” he sighs. “Shorts and sunglasses.”
“I know,” I reply still watching the beach.
“It’s crazy isn’t it,” he asks quietly.
Looking away from my amazing view I turn to my brother, “what’s wrong with you?”
He shrugs, “it’s Christmas, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
The sound of squealing draws my attention again so I turn to look back at my wife chasing our kids. I can’t help smiling when she pretends to fall into the sea making them laugh at her. Paige starts to kick water at Bailey who then chases her around the kids, who are now all screaming. Max laughs at them too but he’s been down a lot in the last few months.
“Sure you don’t want to talk about it, we have some time,” I tell him. Dinner has been eaten and gifts unwrapped now the kids are burning off energy before they get dessert.
“It didn’t stick,” he says almost in a whisper.
My heart hurts for my brother. I know what he’s referring too. Ever since the first time Paige miscarried he’s stopped referring to the fetus as a baby preferring to call it ‘IT’.
“I’m sorry Max,” I reply reaching out to wrap my arm around his neck.
“Thanks but I think we’re going to quit while we’re ahead. It’s not like Anna is alone she has Dani and Drew.”
“Always,” I reply yet still I hate that they are giving up but know deep down that neither Max, or Paige can take more heartbreak.
“How did your kids get so mixed up,” he laughs. He likes to give me shit about my twins. “Your daughter looks like your wife in everything but her black hair and yet your son is every bar of you except he has Bailey’s hair color.”
“What can I say,” I reply with a shrug. “Mom must have had hand is that mess,” I reply with a smirk.
Both of us laugh and it’s nice to hear it from him again. “Yeah I guess she totally hijacked Paige and me too, Anna is a Porter through and through,” he smiles wide while watching his daughter tackles Paige.
“That she is,” I agree. “She must have known something,” I say with conviction.
“What do you mean?”
“They were born so close together, maybe she wanted them to be close, and Anna won’t ever be alone.”
“Yeah,” he agrees. “I guess so.”
We watch our wives and kids walk toward us all smiling and laughing. Bailey catches me looking at her then gives me a sweet smile.
“Daddy,” Danielle calls then runs the last few feet to me. She jumps into my arms covered in wet sand but I don’t care. Andrew, my son is a little more reserved like Bailey but I scoop him up too. He wiggles for a minute but I’m bigger and stronger. I’ll only get a few years when I can hug my son before hormones will kick in and he just nods at me in greeting.
“Did you see us fight the dragons that were chasing mommy,” Dani asks, excitement still clear in her voice.
“I did baby both of you saved mommy, I’m so happy,” I reply giving them each a kiss on the cheek.
“Drew cut his neck with his sword and I stabbed him,” she continues. I’m not sure why my daughter is violent but I hope to god she grows out of it.
“Okay killers, go rinse off under the shower then grandpa Richard will get you dessert,” Bailey says to them.
“And me,” Anna cries wiggling from Max’s arms.
“Yeah baby you too,” he says letting her run after her cousins. Max grabs Paige in a hug causing Bailey to look at me in confusion.
“Get over here,” I smile puling her into my arms. Bending down, I kiss her lips and we hear giggles from behind us.
“Stop spying on us,” Max calls out.
The kids giggle some more then run into the house singing that age-old song about K.I.S.S.I.N.G. The four of us laugh then take a seat in the afternoon sun.
“I love Christmas,” Bailey sighs happily.
“No shit,” Max teases. “I never would have guessed that sis.”
“I know, I keep it under wraps,” she replies then swipes my beer off the table. “So what’s with the doom and gloom,” she asks Max.
“The usual,” he says but looks out over the water.
“I’m sorry,” Bailey replies her smile fading a little.
“It’s okay, we’re not trying anymore. We have Anna,” Paige replies. “She’s the best kid in the world.”
We all agree that our kids are the best even though it’s completely biased. I can’t believe that six years ago the three of them came into the world two weeks apart. Bailey had the twins early then Paige had Anna two weeks later. I know my mom had something to do with it all and I’m grateful to her for it.
“Who want’s dessert,” dad calls out to us.
He doesn’t need to ask twice because we move like a bunch of kids ourselves, fighting to get through the door first. Max stumbles causing Bailey to fall over him then she pulls me down and unfortunately I knock Paige into the door, which makes her fall to. For a moment we all look at each other then burst out laughing while my dad and the kids all look at us.
“See kids,” dad starts. “You never grow up.”
“Hey old man,” I complain as I pull Bailey up off the floor.
“Sit,” he waves us into the family room to eat out dessert and watch Die Hard. I watch my family as they eat and talk, loving everything about my life.
“Cheers bro,” Max says handing me a beer.
“Cheers,” we clink bottles then I smile at him.
I have to admit that I love Christmas too.