It’s Christmas Eve!! I hope you’ve all had great days. I am still a day behind on my writingmas challenge, but as is usual, I will most likely be posting the next part in the early hours of the morning. I hope Santa looks past the light coming from my bedroom and still leaves me presents Fingers crossed. If you’re new to this challenge then the idea is I’m attempting to write a short Christmas story posting daily updates up until, and including, Christmas day. If you’ve missed the previous days you can find them here. I hope you enjoy.
The day Thomas had been dreading since Sadie was born was finally here. She was moving out, off to university to begin her life as an adult. Leanne and Sadie were both upstairs packing up the last of Sadie’s things. They’d both been packing various items for the past week. Leanne had to work later in the day so it was down to Thomas to drop Sadie off and help her settle in. He wasn’t looking forward to saying goodbye. This would be the longest time he’d go without seeing Sadie. In the past he’d have odd days when Sadie would be staying at a friends house or a week at most when she went on school trips, but Thomas knew he wouldn’t get to see his daughter in person until she came home for Christmas. Sadie had insisted on her parents not visiting her during the first semester because she wanted to settle in and fully adjust to living independently. She had initially insisted on getting the train home for Christmas but Thomas managed to convince her to let him pick her up.
When Sadie came downstairs she was carrying a big box of items from her bedroom that she wanted to put in her new room to make it feel more homely. It was time for Sadie to say goodbye to her mother. Sadie placed the box on the kitchen table before turning to her mother and giving her a hug. Leanne held her tightly in her arms not wanting to let go. As she pulled away, Sadie saw her mother begin crying. “Mum. You said you wouldn’t cry.” Sadie said wiping away her mothers tears, just as her mother had to her when she was younger.
“I know.” Leanne placed a hand on Sadie’s. “My baby’s all grown up and leaving home.”
“I haven’t left yet. And it’ll soon be Christmas.” Sadie smiled. Her words were doing nothing to help ease her mothers breaking heart.
“You all set kid?” Thomas asked making his way over to the two.
“I think so.” Sadie replied.
Thomas had filled his car with Sadie’s things last night, but the new addition still needed to find a place. “I’ll put that box in the car. See you out there.” Thomas patted Sadie on the shoulder before picking the box off the kitchen table and taking it to the car.
It was just Leanne and Sadie. Leanne looked at her little girl. Not so little anymore. Sadie was the same height as she was. Leanne pulled Sadie in for one final hug. She tried her best to hold back tears. She placed a kiss on Sadie’s cheek before letting her go from her grasp. Leanne took one final look at her daughter and smiled. Sadie smiled back.
“I love you Sadie.” Leanne whispered.
“I love you too.”
“I am so proud of you. Always have been. And always will be.” Sadie felt her eyes begin to water. “Text me when your father leaves.” Sadie nodded as a single tear rolled down her cheek. “Good luck. Have fun. Work hard, but not too hard. But most importantly—”
“Be myself.” Sadie whispered. Leanne nodded. “I’ll miss you Mum.” Sadie gave her another quick hug.
“I’ll miss you too. If you ever need me, you know where I am. Call me whenever you want to.” Leanne reassured her.
“I know.” Sadie took a deep breath. “Bye Mum.” Leanne smiled as best as she could.
Sadie grabbed her backpack and left the house. As the door slammed shut Leanne broke down into tears. The reality was finally setting in.
The car journey was a quiet one. Thomas didn’t know what to say. The only real noise in the car was the radio. Sadie spent most of the journey looking out of the window and the rest of it either just sat there or asleep. A few hours later and they had finally arrived. Thomas turned off the engine as the car came to a stop. The two were silent, both staring forwards watching the other students unloading their parents cars.
“We best get started.” Thomas said looking at Sadie. She continued looking forward.
“You’ll be alright. Won’t you?” She asked.
“What do you mean?”
Sadie turned to look at her father. “Without me. You’ll be alright?”
“Of course.” Thomas smiled. “Just as I know you’ll be fine without me and your mum.”
Sadie nodded her head and took a deep breath. “Well… I guess it’s time to get my key.” She smiled before opening the car door. She headed into the university building to get her key. She joined the end of the queue. The entire front reception hall was filled with other new students all collecting their keys. Families stood to the sides preparing to say goodbye to their child. “Sadie O’Neill.” She said to the woman sat at the desk in front of her. The woman looked through the box and pulled out a brown envelope with Sadie’s room key in.
“Here you go.” The woman smiled as she handed it over.
“Thank you.” Sadie smiled as she took the envelope.
“I hope you enjoy your time here.” The woman spoke.
Sadie smiled as she turned to head back to her father waiting by the car. She saw him standing by the boot, waiting for her to return. “All set.” She said dangling the key in front of her.
Before beginning unpacking the two went inside the block and located Sadie’s room. It was a decent sized room with an en suite on the 2nd floor of the building. Sadie set her backpack on the desk before they began bringing everything else up.
It had been a few hours since they first arrived and Sadie finally had her room set up the way she wanted it. The room itself was a lot smaller than she was used to at home, but it was a space that Sadie wanted to as homely as possible. Sadie had put her kitchen things away, a space that wasn’t nearly big enough for the number of people that would be sharing it. Thomas looked at her in her first home away from home and couldn’t help but see his little 4 year old Sadie sat there. He obviously knew that she had grown up since then, but he couldn’t help but still see that little girl who was scared to go to school. He decided to take Sadie out for dinner, saving her the hassle of having to cook on her first evening. When they returned it was time for Thomas to say goodbye. They both stood outside of the car. He gave her a big hug and held her close for as long as he could.
“Dad! You’re squeezing too hard.” Sadie laughed.
“Sorry.” He loosened his hug before holding her at arms length, looking her straight in the eye.
“Don’t say what Mum said.”
“What did she say?”
“She gave me the whole I’m proud of you speech.”
“Damn. She steals all my best lines.” He laughed. Sadie smiled. “But I am. You know that right?”
“Yeah.” Sadie looked up at her father with tears in her eyes. She gave her father one final hug before pulling away and wiping her eyes. “You should get going. Mum’ll wonder where you are.”
“See you kidda.” Thomas gave her a final kiss on the forehead. “I know you’ll do great.” Thomas got in the car and rolled down the window. Sadie stood in front of her new home for the year. “See you at Christmas. I love you.” He called out of the window.
“I love you too.” Sadie replied. Thomas waved as he drove off, doing the one thing he said he would never do, leave his daughter.
The months to Christmas soon passed. The O’Neill household had become a quiet place since Sadie had left. Not being with her for her birthday was painful, but was something they would have to get used to as she got older. Sadie began by calling her parents as often as she could. She soon found herself swamped by university work and then actual work. She had gotten a weekend job at the local cafe to help support herself financially. When the semester was finally over, Thomas had driven to pick her up and bring her back home. Leanne waited at home with ‘welcome home’ banners all over the lounge, alongside all of the Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree sat in the corner of the lounge, waiting for Sadie to get home to decorate.
That Christmas was one of the best Christmas’ they’d had as a family of three. They made sure to treasure each moment whilst it lasted. Sadie was enjoying university and everything that came with it, including living independently. Thomas and Leanne had become somewhat used to the quiet, but enjoyed having their daughter home for the holidays. They knew they had at least another two more Christmas’ like this and had accepted that whatever happens afterwards happens. Some family traditions, like decorating the tree, would have to be changed whilst other traditions would always stay the same. Or so they hoped.
We’re getting close to the end now. Only two more parts left in this challenge. I’ll admit that I’ve learnt quite a lot from doing this, I may write a seperate post about that after Christmas. If anyone has any thoughts on this part (or any part so far) or any comments I’d love to hear them. Don’t be afraid to comment below.