"Good to see you, gals. Come on in."
Maddie inhaled the the aromas of the holidays, cedar and pine and cinnamon. The greetings went on and on as she, Jacy, and Tamara stumbled into the bank on the heels of laughter and well wishes to friends passing by.
They'd already hit the beauty shop, with it's funky lighting, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music blaring in the small shop, and where Maddie had spent half of her paycheck on hair products to keep the curly mop, atop her head, tame.
She smiled at the welcome, but mainly to herself. Christmas Open House along the boardwalk and businesses on Main Street, along with more than half the homes, was a tradition she loved.
A crisp wind followed them inside, but the day was clear and mild for this time of year. Red and white
decorations hung over the tellers'
counter with poinsettias gracing the front.
Maddie was partial to traditional colors, but the white glass balls, doves, and assorted musical instruments on a green tree, swathed in frothy white ribbon and a white star lined in gold at Marcy's Boutique went well with the upscale outfits she peddled. It fit so well with the carved white figurines of the nativity scene she displayed in her window each year.
Maddie sighed taking in the tall, slim Christmas tree lined with presents. She, Jacy, and Tamara added their own to the growing pile of gifts for those less fortunate. Maddie said a silent prayer that she no longer had to worry about food or a roof over her head. She'd grown out of her wild ways, well, she chuckled most of them anyway. She had her eye on Mark and Jay for a little Christmas Eve fun, but, she couldn't help still the shudder running up her spine, she'd left behind all night parties at college.
She'd been lucky they had kicked her out. At the time, her parent had been livid, but Maddie knew it she needed the shock to get her to stop the destructive spiral she was on.
The bank manager's voice cut into Maddie's reverie. "Come on over and sample De's cookies. There's snickerdoodles, iced-sugar, and some kind of cream cheese things filled with cinnamon and nuts and covered in powdered sugar." She sent him a grateful smile. Maddie didn't need to go down that road again.
Maybe I'll call mom and dad in a few days. Let them know I'm doing fine. Maddie made a mental note then turned her attention toward the festivities.
She laughed at Mary and Martha, she wasn't kidding, danced to Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, and Jack bent Diane over his arm and kissed her under the mistletoe.
"Hey, who's minding my money with all these shenanigans going on?" Tamara and Jacy catcalled, walking into the crowd.
Madde stood, staring in wonder. The love and laughter the people of her hometown showing the newcomers. Still wishing Jacy well on her recent marriage, and commenting on Tamara's engagement. It was fitting as they stood on the expanse of white marble floor spread out like snow, silver ornaments dangling like icicles and red and green and gold decorations littering every available nook and corner of the bank lobby, that Maddie had found peace this year. With others, herself and who she was.
Laughing, she bounded from one group to another hugging and kissing her family and friends. "Merry Christmas."