Christmas Time

07 - The Greatest Gift - K.T.

Zac Hanson slumped in his seat in the Grand Rapids, Michigan airport. It was Christmas Eve and he and his family were stuck at the airport due to the snowstorm that was attacking the area.

Zac was furious. Why did they have to come right before Christmas? All he wanted for Christmas was to be at home, his home, in Tulsa. That's all he really wanted. Was that too much to ask? Zac certainly didn't think so.

"Mommy, when are we going to leave?" Jessica whined for the millionth time since two that afternoon. It was now eight at night and the snow showed no sign in clearing up.

"I don't know, honey." Diana Hanson admitted wearily. Zoe was on her lap, screaming her lungs out while Mackie was sitting beside her, whining on how he wasn't able to see Santa Claus at the mall earlier.

"Mommy, I wanted to see Santa!" Mackie shouted into Diana's ear.

"I'm sorry, but we had to get to the airport." Diana explained. She was getting frustrated with all of this.

Walker was busy arguing with the airline, Jessica and Avery were whining about being bored, and the boys were just sitting there, not even bothering to help out.

"God, this sucks." Taylor said sulkily. He slumped down further in his seat and crossed his arms.

Isaac and Zac nodded in agreement. Zac began to whistle softly and tunelessly to himself. Taylor stared at him for a few minutes, hoping that he would get the message.

"Dammit Zac!" Taylor yelled. He slapped his hand down on the hard plastic chairs. He got up and stalked toward the men's room.

"Zac." Diana said, sighing.

Zac just gave her an angelic look.

Walker came back into the terminal with an unhappy expression on his face. Avery leaped to her feet and ran to him.

"Daddy, can we go now?" Avery asked, her eyes full of hope.

"No, Avie. We're stuck here until God know's when." Walker said, sighing. He sat down next to Diana and pulled Mackie onto his lap.

"You mean, we have to spend Christmas here?" Zac asked, his eyes growing large.

"It looks like it." Walker said.

"But, I won't get my Malibu Barbie that I asked Santa for!" Avery cried out. She promptly burst into tears and ran for the comfort of Isaac's lap.

"I'm sure Santa visits airports." Isaac said reassuringly. He pushed a few wet strands of hair out of Avery's eyes and kissed the top of her head.

"But it's not the real Santa." Avery sobbed.

"Now we can't sing any Christmas carols like we always do and we can't go to church and I can't wear the pretty dress that Donatella made for me!" Jessica whined. She kicked one of Mackie's trucks that
happened to be lying on the floor.

"Don't kick my truck!" Mackie screeched. He reached out and pulled Jessica's long blond hair. In response, Jessica slapped him on the arm. Mackie burst into tears.

"Mommy, she slapped me!" Mackie accused.

"He pulled my hair first!" Jessica said.

"Jessica, Mackie, please. It's Christmas Eve. I can still call Santa and tell him not to bring your
gifts." Walker threatened.

"It doesn't matter now. We're not going to get any presents. Santa's going to forget about us because we're stuck in this airport." Jessica said sadly. She sat down beside Walker and began to cry.

That was all Zac could take. It was bad enough being stuck in an airport. But it was Christmas Eve and his sisters' and brother were upset. They were losing hope in everything. Zac knew he had to do something fast.

"Ike, follow me." Zac whispered to Isaac. Isaac nodded and gently set the still sobbing Avery on a plastic chair.

Zac and Isaac walked toward another section of the terminal. They found Taylor learning up against the window in a corner, staring at the curtain of snow falling from the pitch black sky.

"Oh, hey." Taylor said when Zac and Isaac approached him. "I was just staring at the snow. I've never hated snow until this moment."

"Yeah, yeah. Well, I kinda have a plan to cheer the kids up." Zac said excitedly.

"Really? What?" Isaac asked. He tried not to get his hopes up too much because Zac's ideas were usually pretty weird.

"I bet in the gift store they have Barbies and stuff. I also bet they have a Santa suit." Zac said. His lips parted into a large grin.

"Yeah, so?" Taylor said.

"Well, how about we get the Santa suit and Ike can dress up. We can buy the toys and Ike can give them to the little kids." Zac said happily.

Isaac stared at Zac in shock. Him, Santa?

Taylor started to laugh.

"Zac, that's a good one. Ike, Santa? Man, you're getting funnier every day." Taylor said. He wiped away a tear that fell from his eye from laughing so hard.

"Guys, I'm serious!" Zac insisted. "Didn't you see the look on their faces when they were told that we were stuck here? We have to do something!" Taylor and Isaac gave Zac a blank stare. "Guys, please? It's Christmas."

"Oh all right." Isaac said, sighing. He wasn't looking forward to pretending that he was Santa, but he'd do anything to make his brother and sisters happy.

"Tay?" Zac asked hopefully.

"I suppose." Taylor said, acting like he just agreed to eat a bowl of worms.

"Great! Now if they have a Mrs. Claus outfit, you can be that, Tay." Zac said.

"Don't push your luck." Taylor snapped.

The three boys walked toward the gift store. Sure enough, there was one Santa outfit left. Isaac rolled his eyes and picked it up. Zac and Taylor headed over to the toy area. There wasn't that great of a selection, but at least there was something.

"How about this truck for Mackie, this ball for Zoe and these Beenie Babies for Jessie and Avie?"

Zac asked Taylor. He picked them up for Taylor to inspect.

"Whatever you want, Zac." Taylor said. He was staring off into space and there was a little bit of drool coming out of the cornor of his mouth.

"All right, Mr. Grinch." Zac said. "I'd wipe that drool of your face if I were you. The girls might not like that too much." Taylor snapped out of his trance and wiped the drool off his face. He glared at Zac, who just shrugged his shoulders. They met Isaac at the counter

"Do you have your credit card?" Zac asked Isaac.

"I have my MasterCard on me." Isaac answered, flashing a plastic card at Zac. "I also found this bag I thought we could stick the stuff in."

"Good job." Zac said.

They put the stuff on the counter and were rang up by a grumpy looking older woman. She looked at their purchases and gave them a sarcastic half smile, but said nothing. Once everything was paid for, Zac grabbed the bag and they headed out.

"Here's your outfit." Zac said, handing the Santa suit to Isaac. Isaac took it and headed for the nearest men's room. Taylor and Zac went over to a nearby bench and sat down.

"This better be worth it." Taylor muttered. He crossed his arms and slumped against the wall.

"What's your problem? You've been really moody the whole trip. Is it that time of the month again?" Zac asked jokingly.

"Shut up, Zac! That's not funny." Taylor snapped.

"Seriously Tay, what's wrong?" Zac asked.

"I hate being stuck here. I wanted to be home more than anything. I wanted to decorate the tree, make cookies, go to church, the whole Christmas thing. But we just had to come here and get stuck."

Taylor said bitterly.

"It's not the end of the world, Tay." Zac said softly.

"It is to me. I'm fifteen, Zac. Pretty soon, I won't be home for Christmas anymore. Ike's eighteen. This could be our last Christmas as a whole family for a long time. I just wanted it to be special." Taylor said.

"At least we're all together." Zac said.

"I guess you're right. But, I still want to be home." Taylor said. He gave Zac a half-smile. "Hey, there's Ike!"

Isaac's came strutting out of the bathroom in full Santa gear.

"How do I look?" Isaac asked, stroking his "beard".

"Like you're on crack." Zac said. "They'll love you."

"I hope so." Isaac said. He adjusted the bag on his back. "Ready?"

"Yup." Zac said. He and Taylor walked a little in front of Isaac. They headed over to where the family was sitting. Things were quiet, for once. Zac could still see the tear stains on Avery and Jessica's cheeks.

"Hey guys, look who we ran into!" Zac announced happily.

Isaac came around the cornor. Mackie's face brightened and he ran over to Isaac. He threw his arms around Isaac's waist.

"Santa! I get to see you, finally! I want Zoe to stop crying for Christmas." Mackie announced happily.

"Ho Ho Ho little boy!" Isaac said cheerfully. "I'll see what I can do. What else to you want?"

"Well, I want Blue, from Blue's Clues Can I have a Teletubbie, too? Laa-Laa." Mackie said.

Zac was smiling so hard that he thought his face would crack. He turned to Jessica and Avery, who started to cry again. The smile dropped off his face and he walked over to them.

"What's wrong?" Zac asked gently. He kneeled down beside Avery and wiped the tears off of her face.

"That's not really Santa; it's just Ike." Jessica said, between her hiccups.

"No it's not." Zac gently insisted. "See, he has presents for you."

"Stop messing with me. It's just Ike. How stupid do you think I am?" Jessica asked. She buried her head in her arms and began to cry harder.

Zac looked helplessly at his mother, who just struggled.

"It's the thought that counts." Diana said softly.

Zac turned to Taylor. Taylor's face was a mask of sadness. Zac was sure his face probably looked the same.

" Hey, I know! Let's sing some Chirtsmas songs!" Zac said cheerfully. He motioned to Taylor and

Isaac, who walked over to join him.

"What should we sing?" Taylor whispered.

"Jessie's favorite is 'The Little Drummer Boy'." Zac said. "Let me sing it, 'cause I'm a little drummer boy. You guys say the 'rum pum pum pums'."

"OK." Isaac and Taylor said in unison.

Zac walked over to Jessica and sat down beside her.

" How about we sing?" Zac asked her.

"No." Jessica said stubbornly.

"Fine. I'll just sing my myself." Zac said. He nodded to Taylor and Isaac. Zac opened his mouth and a voice that riveled an Angel's came out.

Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum

Taylor and Isaac sang, their voices too, riveling an Angel's.

A newborn King to see
Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King
Pa rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him
Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come

Zac paused for a moment to look at Jessica's face. She had raised her head and started to smile.

Zac grinned and he sang stronger yet.

Little Baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gifts to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit for our King
Pa rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum

Jessica opened her mouth and started to sing along. Zac's grin become bigger yet and his voice was powerful, in such a way it could beat an Angel's.

Shall I play for you!
Pa rum pum pum
On my drum
Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him
Pa rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum

The rest of the family joined in, even Zoe, who was gurgling happily.

"Then He smiled at me"

"Pa rum pum pum pum"

"Me and my drum"

A burst of appulause filled the room. Zac turned around, blushing. He didn't realize that such a crowd had gathered.

"More, more!" someone called from the crowd.

"What do you want to sing?" Zac asked

"Can I sing 'Do You Hear What I Hear'?" Jessica asked.

"Sure!" Zac said. Jessica beamed and started to sing. It was soft and wavey at first, but her voice got stronger and more confident as she went on.

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite"

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea"

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
Do you know what I know
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know
A Child, a Child, shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold"

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

The crowd applauded louder this time and Jessica blushed a deep crimson. Zac laughed and ruffled her hair.

"You did a great job." Zac whispered. Jessica broke in out in a joyous smile.

"One more!" someone in the crowd shouted.

"How about the Medly?" Taylor suggested.

"How about we each do one song? I'll do 'Silent Night', Zac, you can do 'O Holy Night' and since you have the highest voice, Tay, you can do 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'." Isaac whispered, smirking.

"Funny." Taylor said sarcastically.

Zac took a deep breath and let his voice take over, singing better than an Angel.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
This is the night of our dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt his worth
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glourious morn!"

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the Angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Chrst was born
Oh night divine

Isaac's voice took over. His voice, too, beat out an Angel's.

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yond virgin
Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Zac took over again.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the Angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

Taylor started to sing now. His voice rang clear as a bell through the terminal. His voice was truly a gift from the Angels' above and God Himself.

O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of Angels"

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

All three of them joined together on the last verse, their voices blending perfectly. It sounded better then it ever had before.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the Angel voices
Oh night divine
O holy night when Christ was born
O holy night
O Holy night

All three of them held out night as long as they could. Then, they let is trail off. The crowd burst out into loud cheers, applause, and whistling. Some people even began throwing coins and dollar bills at them. Zac smiled at the thought. These people had no idea who they were and the thought was slightly amusing.

Zac, Taylor, and Isaac looked at each other and beamed. They had never felt such happiness after singing for anyone. Probably because they had just sang for people who needed some cheering up and needed to have their mind taken off being stuck in this airport, away from their families.

"Look! It stopped snowing!" Avery cried out, pointing to the window.

"Wow, it did." Zac said in awe.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. The run way has been cleared and so has the visibility. We're going to start flying again starting with Flight 467 to Tulsa, boarding now at gate 4. It will be leaving in 15 minutes." came a staticy voice over the loudspeaker.

"Did you hear that, Jessie? We're going home!" Zac shouted. He picked Jessica up and twirled her around. She giggled widly. Zac set her down and she stumbled around for a second, still dizzy.

"Now Santa will come!" Mackie exclaimed, clapping his hands.

"Because of Zac here." Taylor said, setting a hand on Zac's shoulder.

Zac looked up at him in surprise. He never through he'd hear Taylor say anything like that.

"Zac was so adament on us all being happy. Zac made me realize it doesn't matter where you are.

Just as long as we're all together, it's still Christmas." Taylor said.

"Awwww." Isaac said sarcastically.

"Oh, hush, Isaac. I thought that was beautiful. Taylor is right; just as long as we're still together, it's still Christmas. And your singing! I don't think I've ever heard you sing so well. Jessica, you have a beautiful voice, too." Diana said, beaming at her children.

"Thanks." Jessica said, blushing.

"Stop the mushy stuff." Avery said. "Come on, let's go home. It's only 8:45. We'll be home by midnight."

"I guess so." Zac whispered.

The Hanson family gave the attendent their passes and boarded the plane to come home. Despite being stuck in the airport, the family had learned an important lesson: All of them being together at Christmas was the most important and the greatest gift anyone could give.

*Author Note* As you can tell, I love Christmas music a little too much. :-)