Merry Christmas, Baby
"Babe, be honest. Do I look fat in these?" Evangeline stood in the master bedroom, checking herself out in the full length mirror. Her True Religion jeans hugged closely.
John looked up from the NYPD Blue rerun he was watching on TV. "Baby, you look fine. And besides, what man doesn’t want a woman with a little meat on her bones?" He thought she’d know by now that after ten years of marriage and three kids, he’d always find her attractive no matter her size.
Evangeline smiled back, though not amused. "John, c’mon…I’m serious. You know what this is about. Everyone’s coming over and I know someone will say something."
John walked over to his wife. He couldn’t believe she thought she looked fat. He thought she looked more and more beautiful each day. "No one’s gonna say anything…about your weight anyway. Now your cooking, that’s another story."
She smirked at her husband’s quip. "Cruisin’ for a bruisin’, McBain…"
"Hey, I think it’s great that you decided to make macaroni and cheese this year," he said moving close behind Evangeline, slipping his arms around her waist. Their eyes connected in the mirror.
Evangeline wrapped her arms around John’s. "Well, at least I’m trying. I didn’t do like someone else I know, who shall not remain nameless, Lieutenant John Connor McBain, and ask our children’s nanny to bake a cake for me."
"That’s very true. But see the difference is that I know I’m a terrible cook. I also know that you’re pretty bad, yourself. But I do give you an "E" for effort," he finished, kissing her cheek.
Evangeline couldn’t help but laugh. John was telling the truth. Both of their cooking skills were less than stellar. And even though they did make an honest effort from time to time, more often than not they failed miserably. Thankfully, they had an excellent nanny in Mary Gilbeaux. The young lady was great with the kids and she loved to cook.
John and Evangeline heard a thunderous bump downstairs. Immediately, they knew what it was. They rushed to the top of the staircase.
"John Thomas and Rowan, what’s going on down there?" Evangeline yelled.
"Nothing, Mommy. We were just playing," John Thomas replied.
John and Evangeline looked at each other doubtfully. They knew from the sound of the bump that their boys were doing more than just playing.
"And what exactly were you playing?" John demanded.
"Daddy, we were just…"
"No wait, JT," John interjected. "Let Rowan answer. Rowan, what were you two playing?"
Rowan was quiet for a moment. Then he reluctantly answered. "We were doing those WWE wrestling moves."
"Oh, I see. The same wrestling moves that both your mother and I have repeatedly told you two not to imitate?"
"Yes sir," both boys guiltily answered in unison.
"Looks like you’d better go down and give Frick and Frack a good talking to. I’ll get Kennedy up from her nap," Evangeline said, giving John a loving pat on his behind. He winked at her slyly then headed downstairs.
Evangeline walked down the hall and thought about her family. She was so proud of the life she and John had created for themselves. Seven-year-old John Thomas was the spitting image of his father. From his straight dark brown hair, to his crystal blue eyes, right down to his inquisitive personality, he was definitely John McBain’s son. Their second son, six-year-old Rowan Cassidy, resembled Evangeline more so than John. He had curly black hair and light brown eyes. Like his brother, he was curious and sometimes mischievous, but unlike John Thomas, Rowan was honest to a fault. He didn’t try to cover things up the way John Thomas tended to.
The two boys were best friends - thick as thieves - and loved being big brothers to their two-year-old sister, Kennedy Chyler, except when she demanded her way. Kennedy was the Williamson-McBain child that most kept John and Evangeline on their toes. With curly blondish brown hair and grey eyes, she was tall and slim for her age. Kennedy was fearless and daring, always wanting to do everything by herself. Evangeline saw so much of herself in her daughter. She had a gut instinct that her little girl would grow up to follow in her legal eagle footsteps.
Evangeline walked into Kennedy’s room and found the toddler combing her doll’s hair. "What ‘cha got there?"
"Mommy, look!" Kennedy proudly held up the doll.
"Good job, Sweetie! Let Mommy see!" She couldn’t help but smile as the child handed her the doll. Its clothes were on backwards and its hair was a complete mess.
Suddenly, Kennedy was taking off down the hall in search of something else that would momentarily command her attention. The inner workings of a two-year-old’s mind never ceased to amaze her, Evangeline thought to herself as she trotted off after Kennedy.
"NeNe?" she called.
Kennedy burst into a fit of giggles as Evangeline scooped her up, tickling her. "And just where do you think you’re going, Miss Kennedy?"
She carried her downstairs, where she found John and the boys playing on the living room floor. "And what are my guys doing down here?"
"Daddy’s helping us with our Hot Wheels race track!" Rowan excitedly said.
"Yeah, Daddy told us Grammy bought one for him and Uncle Mikey when they were our age! Isn’t that cool?" John Thomas asked.
Evangeline reveled in witnessing once again how much the boys looked up to their father. He was their hero.
"Yes it is. That’s very cool," she said, lowering Kennedy who was fidgeting to be released.
The tot ran over to her father and crawled onto his lap. She stayed there only a few moments before running over to John Thomas, grabbing a car that he wasn’t using. She was determined to put it on the track.
"No, Kennedy. You’re doing it wrong," John Thomas said, taking the car out of her hand. "Let me show you."
"Unhnuhh…Mommy…" Kennedy cried, looking to Evangeline for help.
"JT, you know how your sister is. Please give it back to her," Evangeline instructed.
"I do myself!" Kennedy proclaimed, reaching for the car.
"JT, just show NeNe how to do it with another one of your cars. Give her back that one so she can see what you’re doing."
"But she’ll break it, Daddy," JT pleaded with his father.
"John Thomas, no she won’t. She just wants to play with you guys for a little while. In a minute she’ll be off to something else," Evangeline said as she sat down on the floor next to John.
"Come on, JT. You and Rowan are her big brothers. You two have to show her the ropes," John said rubbing John Thomas’ head encouragingly.
"I understand, Daddy," he replied and handed the car to Kennedy.
"Yep, me too!" Rowan chimed in, even though he’d never stopped playing.
The doorbell rang and Evangeline headed to the foyer. Kennedy followed. The two-year-old loved the sound of the chimes and always ran to the front door eager to see who was on the other side.
"Mom, you’re here! Merry Christmas!" Evangeline said, hugging Lisa.
"Merry Christmas to you, too, Cookie! And to you, too, Little Cookie," Lisa said to Kennedy.
Kennedy clasped Lisa’s leg. Lisa handed her grocery bags to Evangeline and picked up the little girl. "How’s my favorite granddaughter doing?"
"MeMe!" she exclaimed, wrapping her tiny arms around her grandmother’s neck.
"She loves her MeMe," Evangeline said, peeking into the bags. "Okay, Mother. What’s all this? Everyone is only supposed to bring one dish."
"Cookie, this is Christmas dinner. People want to eat. Besides, I’m not everyone, I’m your mother. And when have I ever brought only one dish?"
When John and Evangeline hosted Christmas dinner during their first year of marriage, they’d asked everyone to prepare a dish. No one had a problem doing so simply because it wasn’t a secret that neither one of them knew their way around the kitchen. Ten years later, the tradition still remained. Only now it seemed that with each passing year, Lisa and John’s mother, Eve, brought more and more food.
"There will be plenty of leftovers for you all to enjoy later. Mary is supposed to be the nanny, and you two have the poor girl moonlighting as the cook."
"Mom, Mary likes to cook. She says it’s not a problem."
"Apparently, she’s quite good at it," Lisa said, carefully eyeing her daughter. "It’s only been a few weeks since I last saw you and it certainly doesn’t look like you’ve missed any meals. What have you been eating?"
Oh great, Evangeline thought. This conversation was headed down a road that she didn’t feel like traveling.
"Mom, I haven’t gained that much weight," Evangeline objected. But who was Evangeline fooling? She knew she’d added a few very visible pounds. All of her clothes, especially her pants, were fitting more snug. Her face appeared fuller as well. There was no way she could deny it.
"No need to get defensive, Cookie. The key is moderation. The holiday season can be a trap if you’re not careful. I’ll tell you though, you depend entirely too much on Mary. Maybe you and John should take those cooking classes again…"
"Okay, slow down, Mother," Evangeline said, stifling a snicker. "Let’s just get all this stuff into the kitchen and start setting things up for dinner."
Lisa, Layla, Eve, and Michael sat around the table with John, Evangeline, and the kids. Everyone enjoyed the Christmas spread which included traditional Williamson-McBain favorites such as Lisa’s seven layer lasagna and green bean casserole, as well as Eve’s honey baked ham and cheese mashed potatoes.
John helped himself to another slice of the caramel cake that he’d coaxed Mary into baking and noticed the boys appeared restless. "Would you guys like to be excused from the table?"
"May we play with our toys now?" Rowan asked.
"You sure may. Be sure to wash your hands first."
"Yes sir," he replied as both he and John Thomas jumped up from the table.
"C’mon, Grammy! You gotta see the Hot Wheels track that Santa gave us!" John Thomas said, tugging on Eve.
"Yeah, you too, MeMe! It’s so cool!" Rowan added, and began tugging on Lisa.
"Well hold on boys. We have to help your parents clean up first," Lisa pleaded.
"Okay," John Thomas said. Then he and Rowan raced ahead into the living room.
"Oh don’t worry about it, Mom. We’ve got it covered," Evangeline said.
"Are you two sure? There’s quite a mess in there," Eve said, referring to the numerous pots and pans in the kitchen.
"Michael and Layla already volunteered to help," John said, nodding in his brother and sister-in-law’s direction.
"Hey, I didn’t sign up for kitchen duty!" Michael interjected.
"Yeah, neither did I!" Layla echoed.
"Oh Layla, stop being such a princess," Lisa replied, lifting Kennedy from her booster seat. "Come on, Little Cookie. Let’s see what your brothers are up to."
Rowan ran back into the dining room. "MeMe and Grammy, what’s taking so long?"
"We’re on our way right now," Eve replied, taking Rowan’s hand.
"Uncle Mikey, you come too. I wanna show you my Tonka truck set after I show Grammy and MeMe!"
"Okay buddy. I’ll be out there as soon as I help your mom and dad."
"Cool!" Rowan replied, scampering off with his grandmothers and his baby sister.
Evangeline and Layla began taking food to the kitchen.
"Well, sis. This turned out to be another great Williamson-McBain dinner. Even your macaroni and cheese turned out to be surprisingly tasty," Layla teased.
Evangeline gladly accepted the compliment from her younger sister. "Why thank you, Lay. Your chocolate chip cookies weren’t too bad either. I’ve already had at least five of them."
"Uh yeah, Vangie. I was going to mention that."
"Girl, what have you been eating? I know you’ve been busy with your caseload and the kids, but sis, I’ve gotta be honest – it looks like you’ve put on a few pounds."
"Layla, I just…"
"I mean, it doesn’t look like you need Jenny Craig or anything. It’s just – noticeable. If you got back into the habit of going to the gym, you’d shed the extra weight in no time."
Kennedy toddled into the room. She stretched out her arms, signaling to her mother that she wanted to be picked up.
"Layla, I still go to the gym," Evangeline said, lifting her daughter.
"Yeah, but how often is the question, Vange. We divas must take care of our bodies."
"Mommy does take care of her body, doesn’t she, baby?" Evangeline cooed to Kennedy as she lightly tickled the toddler.
Kennedy gleefully laughed, squirming in her mother’s arms. Even after she’d settled down, she continued to smile. "Mommy…baby," she said pointing to Evangeline’s face and then to Evangeline’s stomach.
"What did you say, NeNe?" Layla asked. "See even your own two-year-old noticed you’ve put on weight. She thinks you’re pregnant."
"Mommy…baby," Kennedy repeated, patting Evangeline’s stomach.
"That’s right, baby. That’s where you came from," Evangeline said, rubbing noses with her daughter. Looking at Layla, she added, "Maria on Sesame Street is pregnant. She’s her favorite character."
"Okay, whatever," Layla replied simply, though not convinced.
Kennedy wormed her way back down and raced off again in search of her brothers.
"We’ve still got half a bottle of wine left. Who wants another glass?" Michael asked as he and John entered the kitchen.
"Wouldn’t mind if I do, Michael," Layla replied, grabbing four wine glasses from the cabinet.
Michael filled the glasses and he and Layla began drinking. They noticed that neither John nor Evangeline were joining them.
"Bro, what’s the deal?" Michael questioned.
"I’m cool, Michael. Just don’t want another glass," John said, putting his arm around Evangeline’s waist.
"Okay, and what’s your excuse, E?"
"No excuse. I’m just going to pass."
"Since when? Vangie, you never pass on merlot especially when you didn’t even have a glass with dinner," Layla pointed out.
"Yeah, I’ve never known ya to pass up a glass red wine, either…well, except when you’re preggers," Michael finished with a laugh.
Layla laughed, too. John and Evangeline didn’t. They just looked to each other knowingly.
"That’s it, isn’t it?" Layla exclaimed. "That’s what the weight gain and passing on the wine is about. You’re pregnant!"
"Layla, keep your voice down!" Evangeline shushed.
"Babe, we might as well tell everyone now. They’re all here," John said with an encouraging smile. He was grinning ear to ear, anxious to spill the beans.
Evangeline sighed. "Yeah, I guess you’re right. I hadn’t planned on announcing it tonight though."
"How much longer were you two gonna wait?" Michael asked.
"Well obviously not too much longer! Girl, with the way you’re packing it on, everyone was bound to say something!"
Evangeline looked to John. "See, I told you this was gonna happen tonight. Even Mom questioned me about all this earlier," she said, gesturing to her expanding hips and backside.
"Hey, I happen to like all this," John responded quickly, patting her bottom with his hand.
"That’s a no-brainer, bro. Yeah, you like it alright. You like it so much, you gave E a reason to be like this for the fourth time. Congrats man!" Michael pulled his brother into a hug.
"Wow! I’m telling ya, Johnny, you’re just a baby making machine, aren’t ya? You two are like rabbits – just procreating everywhere!" Michael said.
"Michael’s got a point," Layla added. "I mean if I were you, Vange, I wouldn’t let John touch me. Every time you look up, you’re pregnant!" she ribbed.
"Hey, who says it was me in pursuit of her? You don’t know how often I have to insist your sister keep her hands to herself."
Evangeline playfully punched her husband. "John!"
"Yeah, Johnny. I’m not buying that one," Michael said, not believing his big brother for one second.
John kissed Evangeline’s forehead. "Me either. I tried," he shrugged.
"You two are just too cute together!" Layla declared, happy for her big sister and brother-in-law.
"Well, as cute as we may be, rest assured, this is the last Williamson-McBain that I’ll be having. If John wants more, he’s gonna have to find a way to carry them himself."
John laughed. "No, I think four is a good, round, even number. Four is good for us."
"Oh my gosh, Vangie! I can’t believe you’re having another baby!" Layla practically screamed, hugging Evangeline once more.
"Hey girls, what’s all that screaming about? I can hear you two all the way in the living room," Lisa asked, entering the kitchen.
"Mom, we’ve got some great news to tell you." Evangeline piped up.
Lisa grinned expectantly. "Okay, well what is it, Cookie?"
"Come into the den with Eve and the kids. I want to tell you all together." Evangeline and John headed out with Michael was close behind. Layla started to follow but Lisa stopped her.
"What’s this about, Layla Rose?"
"Unh Uhh, Mother. You’re not getting it out of me, so don’t even try."
In the den, the boys were on the floor playing with their action figures, while Eve, Lisa, Layla, and Michael got comfortable on the sofas and chairs. John cuddled Kennedy in his arms and stood in front of everyone with Evangeline by his side.
"Okay you two, what’s this all about?" Eve enthusiastically asked.
Lisa agreed. "Yeah, get to it. Inquiring minds want to know."
"Okay, here it is. Evangeline and I decided that since all of you are here…" John began.
"And because a couple of people, namely Mom and Layla, have made a few comments…" Evangeline pointed out.
John chuckled at his wife’s wisecrack as he continued. "We thought now would be the best time to let you know…"
"I’m pregnant!" Evangeline screamed.
"We’re having a baby!" John quickly added.
"Baby!" Kennedy exclaimed, clapping her tiny hands together.
"That’s right! Baby!" John said, poking his daughter’s tummy. Kennedy giggled and in typical Kennedy fashion, wiggled her way out of the arms that held her and ran to sit in Eve’s lap.
Evangeline laughed. "I think she just likes the word ‘baby.’"
"My baby is having another baby!" Lisa said hugging her daughter and son-in-law. "Congratulations!"
"Oh my goodness! Baby number four!" Eve remarked while juggling Kennedy in her lap.
"Really? Another baby?" John Thomas questioned.
"That’s right, pal. Is that okay with you guys?" John asked his sons.
"Yeah, that’s great! I hope this one’s a girl, though, so Kennedy has someone to play with."
"That’s so sweet, honey," Evangeline said. "What about you, Rowan? What do you think?"
Rowan thought carefully before answering. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, "It doesn’t matter to me. I kind of want it to be a boy though. That way we’d have another person to play with our Tonkas."
"Well if it’s a girl, I’m sure she’d like to play with your Tonka’s, too," Evangeline said hopeful.
"Can we go back to our toys in the living room now?" John Thomas asked.
"Sure. But be careful. You two stay out of trouble," Evangeline instructed.
"That means no wrestling moves," John added.
The boys took off with Kennedy fast on their heels. Apparently the news of a new addition to the family didn’t faze them.
"Okay, Cookie. Tell me, when did you find all this out?" Lisa inquired.
"How far along are you? And why is it obvious that both Michael and Layla knew before Lisa and me?" Eve questioned.
"Yes, very good questions, Eve!" Lisa concurred.
"Moms, one question at a time," Evangeline joked. "We found out about two weeks ago, and I’m ten weeks along right now."
"We only told Michael and Layla in the kitchen before because they guessed on their own," John said.
"Yeah Mom, Layla suggested I go hit the gym because she noticed the weight, too. John and I had wanted to wait until after the first trimester to tell everyone, but clearly, that ain’t happenin’" she said, placing her hands on her swelling hips.
"Oh, I should’ve guessed you might be pregnant…especially after I dreamt about that fish!"
"Oh no, Mom! Not the fish!"
"Please Mom, don’t start talking about the fish," Layla agreed.
"What fish?" Eve asked.
"My grandmother always said whenever you dream about fish, it means someone close to you is pregnant."
"Wow Lisa, I’ve never heard of that one, and I’ve heard just about any and every old wives tale there at the hospital," Michael said.
"I know it sounds crazy, Michael, but it’s the honest to goodness truth. Both my mother and grandmother knew I was pregnant with Evangeline and Layla when they dreamed of fish."
"If that’s the case, Lisa, you would’ve had three dreams about our kids already," John politely challenged.
"I did. Cookie didn’t tell you that I dreamed of fish when she had John Thomas and Rowan?"
"No, Cookie didn’t."
"Okay, Johnny Mac. Don’t even start with that ‘Cookie’ stuff," Evangeline teasingly reminded him. She hated being called by her childhood nickname but her mother insisted on doing so. And while he thought Evangeline’s sobriquet was cute, John hated being called by his childhood nickname ‘Johnny Mac’ as well.
"Well, whatever the case, this is great news. Congrats you two!" Eve embraced them both. "So, was it planned?"
"Well…it wasn’t necessarily planned, but it wasn’t a complete surprise either," Evangeline blushed.
"I see." Eve chuckled, understanding the implication.
"So, on to the good stuff – have you thought about names yet?" Layla asked.
"We actually have thought that far in advance for a change, if you can believe it," John responded.
"Okay, so what do you have picked out?" Layla pressed eagerly.
"I think both you and Michael will approve of our selections," Evangeline said.
Michael folded his arms, skeptical. "Oh, I can’t wait to hear this."
"We’ve decided on ‘Evan’ for the first name, regardless of gender," Evangeline shared.
"In honor of my amazingly wonderful wife," John sweetly added.
Evangeline smiled proudly. "And if he’s a boy, he’ll be named Evan Christopher after his uncle, Michael Christopher."
"And if she’s a girl, she’ll be Evan Rose after her aunt, Layla Rose," John finished.
"Oh, you two are just too precious," Eve said, tearing up.
"Don’t cry, Mom," John said, handing his mother some Kleenex.
"Evan Rose – I like that. It’s got ‘diva’ written all over it," Layla said as she turned the name over in her mind.
"Yeah, Evan Christopher ain’t too bad either," Michael decided.
"Well, I think this is the best Christmas gift we could’ve asked for," Lisa beamed.
"I couldn’t agree with you more," Eve concurred.
"Yeah, I think we got ourselves a pretty good family here. Who would’ve ever thought all those years ago that we’d be married for ten years and having our fourth kid?"
Evangeline wrapped her arms around his waist. "Tell me about it. This really is beyond my wildest dreams, John."
"Hey, sometimes dreams do come true," John said tenderly, tucking a few strands of his wife’s loose tresses behind her ear.
Evangeline looked to her husband with love in her eyes. She was so happy with her life, her career, and her family. "That is so true, McBain. So true…"