Jacob held his green-gloved hand above his squinted eyes. He stood on the last step of the porch and studied how the colorful Christmas lights reflected against the icicles that hung from the roof. When his mom finished buttoning up little Susannah, she opened the door and Christmas music escaped into the crisp air. Jacob laughed at his sister in her puffy white coat and called her a snowman, waved to his grandparents who stood behind the wreath on the screen door, then ran in front of his mother and sister to the car.
The ride home seemed longer than usual. Jacob and Susannah tried to occupy themselves by looking at the decorated houses that Mom seemed overly excited about. They weren’t too interested. They hoped Santa had gotten to their house early. Mom told them the man on the news said Santa would be making his rounds early because of the storm that was on the way.
“Daddy’s home!” Susannah said when she saw Dad’s work van in the driveway.
Jacob leaned over the empty middle seat to get a look at the driveway as their car pulled up behind Dad’s van. “I wonder if he saw Santa!” He threw off his seat belt.
Jacob and Susannah raced to the stoop. Jacob got there first and flung his arms into the air, proudly claiming victory. Susannah ran passed him and touched the door. She argued that he had to touch the door to win. When the spotlight above the door went on, the kids forgot about their argument and jumped up and down at the sight of their father, who wore a Santa hat. He opened the door and knelt down to hug both of his children with pink noses and snow in their brown hair. Susannah gave her father a sloppy kiss on the cheek, then followed Jacob to the Christmas tree. There was nothing there other than the smell of pine.