This a a short story written for a Christmas Challenge. It was meant to be Hallmark cheesy, not sure I managed that, but I hope you enjoy. This is dedicated to a friend who is hoping for such a gift of her own this Christmas.

Diana Wright, nee Barry, blew on her steaming mug, more out of habit than to cool it. She was enjoying the warmth of the cup in her hands as she surveyed the beauty of the world around her.

It was 4am, Christmas morning. She'd woken, yet again, by waves of nausea, and had come outside with her ginger tea and several warm blankets to sit on the veranda of her home until the wave passed, so as not to wake her snoring husband.

Home. Diana turned the word over, absently playing with the ring on her left hand as she did. For so long home had been Orchard Slopes. At first, living at Lone Pine felt strange. She often found herself driving to her childhood home before realising she no longer lived there, and redirecting the horses to her new home, arriving later than expected.

"Forgot where you lived again love?" her husband would gently tease her. She would blush and shrug. It was difficult to live in a new place when you'd only ever been in one place your entire life. It wasn't like her friend Anne, who'd lived in multiple places. Diana had only ever known one, until now.

The scene Diana looked out on was like a wintery wonderland. Fresh virgin snow, pine trees glistening, heavy with snow on their boughs, bells she'd hung earlier in the week tinkling as boughs adjusted to the weight. The smell of wood fires that had burned all night keeping her neighbours warm as they slept. Soon the cottages would light up one by one as the matrons of the house began their Christmas preparations but for now, all was quiet and dark.

Diana loved this quietness, especially as she knew it wouldn't be this way for long. She watched a deer's footprints as it tentatively walked on the fresh fallen snow, pausing to dig for the grass that lay underneath.

The creaking of the veranda door startled the timid deer who ran off, as Diana turned to smile at her husband.

"Come inside, love" Fred's voice deep with concern, "you'll catch you're death out here".

"I'm not cold", Diana responded, "and I didn't want to wake you"

"You've been ill again?"

Diana nodded

"Perhaps its time to call the Doctor?"

Diana shook her head to disagree.

"I spoke to Mother again when she dropped off food yesterday. Its easing, and we both think it will pass soon."

"It's been weeks" Fred pressed "it may be serious."

Diana smiled a knowing smile.

"It's been really kind of both our mothers to drop off food for our Christmas, when they have their own to prepare. And look, Father Christmas has visited!" Diana pointed to a odd- shaped pile on the corner of the veranda, covered in a blanket. "We can even see his reindeer's footprints" she laughed. Despite Diana and Fred being now old enough to be married and living separately her parents had still made indents in the snow as if the reindeer had waited for Santa.

"That's my point" continued Fred "If our parents are dropping off food, don't want us to visit Christmas Day, and don't expect us at church, even they must think it's something serious"

"Do you mind, Fred?", Diana asked, "Spending our first Christmas alone?"

"An entire day of you to myself? I wouldn't mind at all , if I wasn't so worried about you" he responded the concern deep in his eyes

"I think they let us off Christmas as they know it is the last chance we will have for a quiet Christmas for some time", Diana said slowly, looking down and blushing. Glancing up through her lashes she could see that Fred still didn't understand.

"There is nothing wrong with me that won't be cured in about nine months" she continued

"Nine months?" Fred queried.

Diana lent forward and whispered something in his ear. The concern on his face turning to shock, to understanding to joy.

"Wh-oop" Fred let out a cry of joy that echoed out across the valley like a whip cracking, disturbing the peace of the moment, causing birds to fly from their wintery roosts and some of the snow on the fir trees to drop.

"Are you sure, my darling?" he asked

Diana smiled. "Quite sure. I've suspected for a few weeks, but wanted to wait for today to tell you. Merry Christmas".

"Merry Christmas. What a gift! Now I want to see everyone today to share our good news!"

Diana smiled that knowing smile again

"I think you'll find our parents are quite astute, let's see what's under the blanket."

Fred threw back the blanket to see several small parcels sitting in a hand made crib, nestled on a rocking chair

"How?" he asked

"They saw the signs" Diana

Fred grabbed Diana and kissed her passionately. "A home, a beautiful wife, a baby on the way, (this last phrase in a whisper), this is indeed a Merry Christmas."

I hope you enjoyed my short Christmas story. There was a paragraph I wanted to add that didn't quite fit with the story, but I thought you might like to see it so here's a 'deleted scene' for your enjoyment.

Diana sat in her new rocking chair in front of the blazing fire, a secret bubbling in her breast. Soon, she would tell her husband soon.

Fred chewed on a piece of straw. He'd promised his wife when they married he wouldn't smoke again, but missed having something to do with his hands so often grabbed some straw to chew, even though he knew it made him look like a country bumpkin.

He looked at the Christmas cards on the mantle, picking each up in turn to see who they were from, stopping at two standing side by side on the end. The first, a picture of a Christmas nativity with wishes gushing out in Anne's floral hand. The second, a picture of a star with Gilbert's firm hand sending Christmas cheer.

"I see if you can't get our friends together, you put their cards beside each other", he laughed

"Its most vexing", his wife responded, "That kiss we witnessed after our wedding, well I was sure we'd be celebrating their nuptials this Christmas, but alas, they seem as estranged as ever."

"Strange", said Fred, "Gilbert seems calmer these days, more content, as if he had his bride"

"And Anne skips along as if she is bursting with so much joy it comes out of her very feet"

"Yet still they haven't resolved things. They are more cordial to each other now,…."

"…almost chummy" said Diana finishing her husband's sentence

"but still nothing more", they both said together with a sigh