Bella stood in her bedroom in her brand new long sleeved red velvet dress with white cuffs and collar. She couldn’t help wiggling her toes while Mama Bree tried to buckle her new shiny black patent leather shoes.
“Work with me, Bella,” Aubrey sat back on her heels and blew a stray lock of hair from her forehead. “I know the shoes feel stiff, but that’s the price a performer has to pay if she wants to look just right for her 3 year old Christmas recital. All your mamas and aunties will be so impressed with the way your shoes sparkle.” She held one of the shoes up and showed Bella how it shone in the light, “Aren’t they pretty?”
Bella nodded and wiggled her feet again. “Mama Emmy and Mama Bear don’t care if I wear the shoes,” she pouted a little bit. “We can put them on the floor, they’ll be shiny there!”
Aubrey sighed, “Nope. This time you have to wear the shoes on your feet.” Aubrey picked up the little girl and sat her on the edge of the bed so she could catch one foot and then the other. “Okay, I think you’re ready.”
Emily poked her head into the room, “How’s it going, Aubs? Oh!” She exclaimed and held a hand to her chest. “Bella you’re absolutely stunning!” Emily giggled when the little girl hopped off the bed and ran to give her a hug. “Careful,” Emily braced herself with one hand against the wall. “Mama Emmy can fall fast.” She worked her way to her feet, balancing against her pregnant belly. “Wow, those shoes are perfect, Bella!”
Aubrey smiled at Emily with gratitude. She always knew exactly what the little one had complained the most about. “How’s the crowd?” Aubrey joined the two near the door.
Emily shook her head a little, “That room usually seems so big.” She laughed and put an arm around Aubrey’s waist. “Maybe it feels smaller because I’m so big now.”
Aubrey put a hand on Emily’s belly and kissed her cheek, “You’re just the right size, Mama Emmy.”
“You’re sweet, and I’m a whale,” Emily laughed. “It’s a sold out show, I think they’re ready when you are.”
Aubrey nodded. “You go out and introduce us, we’re as ready as we can be.” She put her hand out to Bella, “Ready?”
Bella took the offered hand and nodded seriously, “Weady.”
Emily grinned at them both and hurried as well as she could down the stairs. She paused beside the piano keyboard and looked around the room. Jessica and Ashley were cuddled in one corner of the couch, Beca and Chloe in the other. Stacie sat in one arm chair and Emily’s chair was beside it, waiting for her return. She smiled at each of them in turn, then straightened her back and pronounced, “Aunties and Mamas, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I present Miss Bella to sing some of her favorite Christmas carols, accompanied by Mama Aubrey!” She swept her hand toward the stairs. When she saw the pair begin to make their way down she snuck into the chair next to Stacie’s.
Bella led the way, carefully choosing each step with her new shoes. Aubrey wasn’t far behind, ready to catch the little one if she slipped. When they reached the bottom of the steps the room erupted with applause. Bella looked startled and turned to Aubrey, who made a little bow motion and then waved her hands toward Bella. Bella took the hint and turned back around, making a deep bow toward the room.
“You’re getting all of this, right?” Chloe whispered in Beca’s ear.
Beca made a face and gestured toward her phone, which was still recording.
When the applause died down, Aubrey took her seat at the keyboard. With a nod of her head she reminded Bella where she was supposed to stand. Just before she began to play, she whispered, “Sing loud.” Bella nodded, her face serious until Aubrey winked at her, which made her grin.
Bella looked back at the women assembled and found her Mama Stacie in the crowd. She put her hand over her mouth and blew a kiss, which elicited tiny appreciative noises from the rest of the crowd. Emily gave her a big thumbs up. Bella looked around again and took a deep breath.
Before the little one could get nervous, Aubrey started the intro to her song. Bella began to sway with the music, her hands clasped in front of her waist. She took a deep breath, realized it wasn’t time yet, then took another deep breath and started to sing.
Dashing through snow
one horse open sleigh
Over fields we go
Laughing all the way
Aubrey paused the accompaniment so Bella could give a hearty “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Bella looked at Aubrey expectantly and Aubrey made a big nod with her head. They both began the chorus at the same time.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh!
Bella sang with more enthusiasm than melody. When the chorus ended she turned quickly to Aubrey, her hands covering her mouth and her eyes wide. Aubrey turned on the bench and looked at the audience. “Does anyone happen to know the next verse?”
Chloe raised her hand energetically, “I do!” She called out.
“Anyone sing along who wants to sing along,” Aubrey smiled and dropped another wink toward Bella. Chloe started the verse, Emily joining in right after. Jessica came next, then Ashley and Stacie. When the chorus came back around Bella was jumping up and down at each line, the rest of the singers breaking into harmony. The song ended with laughter and applause, Bella not missing a trick this time and offering a low bow.
“Why didn’t you sing, Becs?” Chloe asked.
“I’m the cinematographer, Chlo. Nobody would have heard anything but my voice.” Beca arched an eyebrow at Chloe. “I’ll sing it for you later, kay?”
Chloe smirked and nodded. “Thanks for recording it, though.”
Emily was already on her feet and standing next to Bella. “Our next selection also requires some audience participation,” she addressed the room. “If you all will sing the verses, Bella will solo on the Fa la la la la.”
Bella nodded and repeated, “Falalalalalalalalalala.”
Emily beamed. “Right. Ready, Maestro?” She turned and smiled at Aubrey, who nodded and began the introduction.
The room erupted in song once more, this time beginning in three part harmony. They sang through to the appropriate moment and the room grew silent. Bella’s eyes got big and she turned to look up at Emily. She scooted close so she could hold Emily’s leg in the sudden silence with everybody staring at her intently. Emily bent over carefully and whispered, “Fa la la la la?”
Bella nodded, her smile returning. Still holding on to Emily, she turned and sang out “Fa la la la la la la la la la la!”
The grownups all clapped and laughed once more. Bella beamed at Emily, then ran across the room to climb into Stacie’s lap. Emily moved to put a hand on Aubrey’s shoulder. As Aubrey played through the rest of the song the Bellas and Bella continued to take turns.
Aubrey turned her head to kiss Emily’s hand when the song ended, and Emily leaned against Aubrey’s shoulder. Stacie hugged Bella, “What a good recital!” She said proudly.
Bella grinned and called out, “Happy Merry Christmas!”
The room erupted in laughter and applause once more. It really was a happy merry Christmas.