‘Whose turn is it for the angel this year?’ Rocco asks both girls. They have just finished putting up the last of the Christmas trees and as usual he’d gone overboard, all three trees stand at 10 feet one feet up from last year. One in the foyer, one in the living room, and the last at the top of the grand stairs overlooking the entryway.
‘It’s Bella’s turn.’ Roma hands her sister the angel, it was a family heirloom at this point. Rocco and JJ had taken her to visit her grandfather’s village near Siena for her first Christmas, and it was at the Christmas market in Siena, that one year-old Roma picked up the ornament from a local trader’s stall. A Black angel dressed in gold and big colourful wings of crystals, her dreads frame her beautiful face. She’d been in love with the angel, and it has been a tradition since that she and Bella, when she came two years later, would take turns putting the angel on the christmas tree every year.
‘Yes it is my turn.’ Bella squeals eager for her chance.
JJ sets the timer on her cell phone on the tripod and hurries to the tree just in time to make the shot; Rocco holding Bella up to the tree as she placed the angel gently on it. Roma in her mother’s arms looking on encouragingly at her sister.
The click of the camera catches the family in the right moment, smiles and an angel balanced wonkily on the tree. The perfect christmas card.
‘Here you go.’ Rocco hands JJ a glass of red wine, he’d put the girls to bed whilst she cleaned up the mess of the tree. Today was a long day; from getting the tree to an impromptu flower class, she’d had the girls because Rocco was in training. This year was especially hard for them, but they were determined to make it a happy Christmas, hell Rocco was more than determined he’d booked out an entire village for their families to spend Christmas. Monte Madre was her happy place; he’d taken her there on their second anniversary together, with a one-year-old Roma whilst she was pregnant with Bella. They made beautiful memories there and she knows this was more than a gift to their families, it was so much more; Rocco still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened in the summer, and she’ll indulge him. It is his way of processing.
‘What are we doing for Christmas?’ Cara, Rocco’s older sister asks over Sunday dinner at her house.
Rocco is the only boy of four children, the baby of a family that dotes on him and JJ by extension. It makes the situation with her family a little less painful.
‘Well, I made plans which I hope JJ won’t kill me for.’
‘What did you do?’ JJ asked and judging by that grin on Rocco’s face he’d done something she would likely not thank him for. He was overly grand with his gestures.
‘I booked our place for our families.’
‘What? Monte Madre.’
‘As in a few rooms or-’
‘The entire thing.’
He shrugs, that cute smile of his that could get him out of any trouble. ‘I spoke to Rocks about it I know how in love you are with the place, every time we go there you never really want to leave so I thought we could take everyone we love there for the holidays. Rocks worked with helping me finagle the dates and we have it from the twentieth to the second of January.’
‘You did not.’
‘Are you mad at me?’
‘Why would I be? Rocco that’s incredibly sweet of you. Thank you.’ JJ walked over to the other side of the table to give him a hug. ‘You sure about this? My family as well.’
‘Yes including your dad. You can choose to invite your mother if you want, I know that’s hard for you but, I’d at least like to spend more time with your dad, Fen, Jason and Thomas. Not Cleo if you don’t want to have her there, but I would like to spend time with our families, just us, in this magical place. And if you don’t want to, we can bounce the idea and-’
‘I want to.’ She’d hugged and kissed her impulsive, overly grand gesturing, kind-hearted man. ‘I would love to.’
‘Do you wanna talk the plans or-’
‘No. I just want to chill with you tonight and enjoy the Christmas tree.’ They’d gone mad with decorations this year, that wonky angel catches the moonlight beaming through the French doors and she glistens, memories of their first Christmas together wrap up this moment.
‘We can do that.’ And so they did.