Rick knew that Christmas was always a little sad for Kate. Even after 20 years without her Mom, he could see the melancholy creeping into his wife's demeanor. He had hoped Lily's presence in their lives would have lifted Kate's spirits this year. Their daughter is fascinated with everything shiny, and the tree that holds all those bright, shiny objects is Lily's current obsession. At almost 7 months old, Lily has almost mastered crawling. She isn't fast or consistent yet, so he's been able to catch her before she makes it to the tree. Just to be safe, there's a strong wire running from the tree trunk to an anchor hook in the wall. The ornaments on the lowest branches are all unbreakable, in case little hands manage to grab one.
His plan this December Saturday morning is to wake Kate with coffee in the new cup he bought for her. He wants to amuse her with the cup's inscription, and then let Lily astound and amuse Kate with her determination to get to that Christmas tree. He has the coffee ready, and Lily is still asleep. He might be able to spend a few minutes alone with Kate before Lily wakes up.
He carries their coffees into the bedroom. He places Kate's cup on her nightstand, and then slips into bed with his own cup of coffee. Morning light is sneaking under the curtains and dappling the floor near the windows. Rick has only taken a few sips of his coffee, when Kate starts to stretch with her awakening. She smiles at Rick and sits up. Rick leans in for a kiss. "Your coffee is still hot. I just set it on your nightstand."
Kate rewards Rick with a smile and a quick kiss. When she picks up her coffee, she takes a deep drink before she reads the words on the mug: "I will be merry & bright after Coffee." Laughing, she looks at Rick, "Good one, Babe. You know me well."
Rick grins, "Know you and love you. Let's get a little snuggle and coffee time in before the Princess wakes up."
"You're just full of great ideas this morning."
The couple leans into each other and enjoy their coffee. As expected the baby monitor broadcasts Lily's awakening grunts almost simultaneously with the last sips of their coffee. "Kate, I'll get her changed, if you will get her bottle ready."
"You have a deal. I'm going to make a pit stop, and I'll meet you in the kitchen in a few minutes. Is there more coffee?"
"Seriously? Of course, there's more coffee. Meet you in the kitchen in a few minutes." After a quick smooch, Rick walks briskly toward the escalating sounds from his daughter.
Lily is babbling to Rick as he walks down the stairs. Kate is wrapped in a warm robe, two cups of coffee on the counter and the microwave beeping to signal the bottle is warmed. Kate gently inverts the bottle a few times, checks the temperature and meets Rick at the bottom of the stairs. Lily squeals her delight at seeing her Mother. She leans away from Rick toward Kate. "I see how it is. I clean up your messy diaper, but Mommy is your favorite."
"Daddy is such a drama king. Mommy has your breakfast," Kate coos to her daughter while taking her from Rick's arms.
While Lily drinks her bottle, Rick prepares breakfast. The adults have a quick scramble and fruit. Lily is seated between her parents with them taking turns spooning cereal into her mouth.
After breakfast Kate cleans up Lily and dresses her, while Rick cleans up the kitchen. He greets Kate with a third cup of coffee, when she returns with Lily. "Let me take her and you have a seat facing the tree. We have something to show you."
"Okay, Stud, what are you planning?"
"You'll see. Lily, baby, let's show Mommy your new obsession."
Lily squeals when Rick carries her over to the tree. He had turned on the tree's lights before he woke Kate. Kate settles at one end of the sofa sipping her coffee. "Okay, Mommy, watch …"
Rick places Lily on her tummy facing the tree. Lily squeals and wiggles towards the tree. She manages to get her knees underneath her and crawls a few feet towards the tree. Kate's eyes glisten with tears that don't fall. "Rick, she's crawling!" Kate joins Rick on the floor next to Lily. "Tiger Lily, look at you!"
Kate's presence distracts Lily from the tree. She tries to look at her Mom, but her uncoordinated body collapses her face into the floor. Lily doesn't cry, just rolls onto her back and reaches for her Mom.
While Kate is picking up the baby, Rick lays down on the floor. "Let's scoot under the tree. She likes to look up at the lights."
"Now I understand why you wired the tree to the wall. Baby girl, you want to lie under the tree? Are you my early Christmas present this morning?"
Rick chuckles and the three Castles lay under the tree. Rick makes up a story about an elf hanging ornaments, and amuses Kate. When Lily manages to sit up and grab an ornament, Kate praises her and both parents celebrate their baby's accomplishment.
Rick is secretly thankful that Kate is finding her joy this morning.