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  1. #11
    Nicole Hossler

    Nicole was sure Amanda did a good job. It smelled great to her. As they talked about Phil, Nicole said.

    "I start my shopping in August, right after I'm done with my back to school shopping. That gives me plenty of time."

    Although she was sure most people thought that August was way too early to start shopping. Personally she loved being done early and just enjoying the holiday when it came around. She laughed her friend said that maybe this would teach Phil to shop a lot early next year.

    She nodded her head when Mandy went to call her boyfriend. Nicole touched Joel's shoulder and asked him quietly.

    "You're doing okay, right?"

    She hoped he was. She knew how close he was to his grandfather and the last time he had called home, things hadn't been going well. Before he could reply, Mandy returned and Nicole could tell she was a little disappointed Phil wouldn't be joining them.

    "That's very true. We can make him jealous, telling him how delicious it is."

    She said with a wink. At the suggestions.

    "I guess we can just fix plates. Maybe even watch a Christmas movie."

    There were plenty of those on tv right now. And she loved many of them. This was truly her favorite time of the year.

  2. #12
    Joel Huffman

    "I'm sure you did fine."

    Joel told Mandy with a smile. The lasagna smelled very good to him.

    "I thought she was crazy at first, but I now see the logic in shopping very early."

    Joel replied when Nicole said how early she started her Christmas shopping. Since he had gotten serious with Nicole, he had gotten into the habit of buying presents early. They would often go out together and it just seemed natural to pick up some things too. She was right, it was a lot less stressful. Although....at the rate things were going, he might have one less person to buy presents for next year. He hoped not. He sighed at Nicole when Mandy went to call Phil.

    "I'm trying to be but...I'm worried about him."

    He felt too young to lose the man that was basically his father. He didn't want to imagine the rest of his life with his grandfather gone. When Mandy told them that Phil couldn't come, he replied.

    "That's a shame. Hopefully he'll be able to survive the last minute shopper crowd."

    He nodded his head in agreement they could just grab a plate and see what was on tv and just talk.

    "Got any big plans for the holiday break?"

    He asked Mandy as he took a seat.

  3. #13
    Amanda Parker

    Amanda smiled at her Nicole's and Joel's encouraging words about her culinary skills. She had been so stressed lately with all the work she was doing for her classes that getting to relax and have some nice words tossed her way really meant a lot to Mandy. To be perfect, their time would only need Phil, but she would spend time with him later.

    Getting back to the living room, she pushed any sad thoughts away and focused on providing her friends with as good a time as she could.

    Nodding when they said everyone could just fix a plate, Mandy gestured for them to follow her to the kitchen. "Cool, come on in", she invited, going ahead to get the lasagna out of the oven.

    As she did so, Mandy carried on talking to her friends. "I think I'll take a page off your book", she said to Nicole. "I think it'll ease the shopping madness and make holidays less stressful", she admitted, smiling when Joel asked about her plans.

    "Oh, I'll spend Christmas with my family, and New Year's with Phil's folks. Also have an interview during the break to cover the Buddy Holly Festival come February. If I get the gig, I should probably have a couple tickets to spare, if you guys would like to come", she invited, clearly excited about this opportunity at a first "real" job as a journalist. "What about you guys? Anything grand?", Mandy carried on, really interested in her friends' plans.

  4. #14
    Nicole Hossler

    "I know, babe. I'm worried too."

    Nicole told Joel, squeezing his hand. She was worried about his grandfather. He was a wonderful man and treated her like granddaughter. Which was very nice, especially since she had lost both her grandfathers already in life. Her mother's father she never knew, he had died a year after she was born. Her other grandfather had died when she was twelve. She missed them both, for different reasons. She wished she had known her maternal grandfather and she missed her paternal grandfather a lot. She thought her and Joel's grandfather would have gotten along great.

    Nicole fixed a plate and took a seat on the couch next to Joel. She told Mandy with a smile.

    "It's a good idea. After all, the holidays should be fun. Not stressful."

    She listened to Mandy's plans and said.

    "Those sound fun and good luck with your interview. I'll definitely take up on that offer."

    Nicole said with a wink.

    "We'll visit family. We're from the same town, so we spend Christmas morning with Joel's grandparents and the afternoon with my family. Mom and Dad always throw a big together. New Years, we're going to hang out with some high school friends who come home over the break."
    Last edited by Sojourn; 07-27-2017 at 11:13 PM.

  5. #15
    Joel Huffman

    "I know, babe."

    Joel replied sadly to Nicole and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She was pretty close to his grandfather as well. The idea of him not lasting to the new year or even Christmas was so terrible to him. He couldn't imagine a life without him in it. Joel grabbed some food to distract himself from thoughts of his father. He took a seat next to his girlfriend and said to Mandy.

    "Nicole's way is best. No stress and plenty of time to find the perfect gifts."

    He took a bit and nodded his head in approval of the food. He told his friend.

    "The festival sounds fun and I think your mom would approve of this. It tastes even better then it smells."

    He told Mandy as he took another bite.

  6. #16
    Amanda Parker

    Mandy smiled at both Nicole and Joel. She was really happy that they were there, as she wouldn't want to have dinner alone tonight. And she felt it would be good for them as well, as they seemed to need to get their minds off Joel's grandfather's illness for a while.

    "You're a genius", she replied to Nicole's comment about early shopping.

    "Thanks for the good luck wishes, I'm hoping I'll get it. I'll let you guys know after the break".

    The mention of Joel's grandparents made Mandy sigh. "Oh", she murmured, tapping her forehead and setting her plate aside. "Almost forgot", she said half to herself, excusing herself. While Mandy had decided she would give her friends' gifts after dinner, she thought her gift to Joel's grandpa could be first.

    She went in her bedroom and came back with what seemed like an old book. Sitting close enough to both her friends, she opened a miniature laptop. "Would you take it to your grandpa, Joel? It's got loads of classic novels and music from your grandpa's young days". Mandy blushed a little, hoping she hadn't overstepped any boundaries. "Since I'm not sure I'll be able to visit, I thought I should send something to help him pass the time".

  7. #17
    Nicole Hossler

    Nicole was having fun. While she wished that Phil could have joined them, it was still nice spending time with Mandy. Although she did wish that Joel would have some good news about his grandfather. But she had a bad feeling that he wouldn't. Things weren't getting better...It felt like they were on borrowed time. It would be sad any time of the year. But being right before Christmas...It felt so much worse.

    Nicole told herself they could only think about good things tonight. And that sometimes miracles could happen. She wouldn't count Joel's grandfather out just yet. It wasn't over, until it was over.

    "Of course, I am."

    Nicole said with a wink and added.

    "You're welcome. Definitely let us know."

    She hoped that Mandy would get the gig. It sounded like a great opportunity for her. Give her some good experience. She smiled sadly when Mandy handed Joel a present she had for his grandfather.

    "That is really sweet of you, Mandy."

    Nicole said.

  8. #18
    Joel Huffman

    While his grandfather was in the back of his mind, Joel was having fun with Mandy and Nicole. It was nice to hang out with friends for dinner. When Mandy said Nicole was a genius, he said, in jest.

    "Don't tell her that, she might believe you."

    He said it with a wink, he thought his girlfriend was very smart and pretty. And he told Nicole.

    "Just kidding."

    He meant no harm in the joke and he agreed that he hoped that Mandy would get the gig she was talking about. When she handed him the present she had for his grandfather, he got a little misty eyed. His grandfather was a good man and meant a lot to many people. To know that Mandy had taken the time to download music and classic novels onto the laptop, made him happy they were friends.

    "Thank you, Mandy. I'm sure he'll love it."

    Especially when he saw that his grandfather's favorite book, 'The Count of Monte Crisco' was on it. And in a brief glimpse, found many songs his grandfather liked to play at home on his computer. His grandfather didn't use the Internet for much, but he did love YouTube and playing music on it.

    "I won't even wait until Christmas to give it to him."

    He'd give it to his grandfather once he got home. So he could enjoy it while he could.

  9. #19
    Amanda Parker

    Mandy smiled when Nicole said she was a genius. "Modesty escapes you, though", she joked with her friend. Despite the little joke, Mandy had been serious about Nicole being really smart. It was a great idea to take care of shopping early in the year and not have to worry about anything during the busy Christmas season. She would have to remember it next year.

    "I will, don't worry", she replied to Nicole's request of letting them know whether or not she had gotten the gig. Fingers crossed, she would.

    Once she gave Joel the gift to his grandpa, Mandy smiled gently at Nicole's words. "It's the least I can do", she replied quietly.

    She turned to Joel when he thanked her. "I really hope he does", she murmured, a little teary-eyed as well. Taking a deep breath, Mandy did her best to smile. She knew why Joel wouldn't wait until Christmas, but she still wanted to keep things upbeat for now.

    "I'm sure he won't mind if you don't wait", she replied with a warm smile, taking another bite of her food. With a sigh, Mandy fell silent for a moment, feeling shaken to think about Joel's grandpa. "Do you think... would it be okay if I dropped by for a visit?", she finally asked quietly, wanting to offer support, but not sure about how she should do it.

  10. #20
    Joel Huffman

    "That it does."

    Joel said with a wink. Enjoying teasing his girlfriend a little. Joking around with Mandy and Nicole felt good. It felt normal. With his grandfather's sudden bad turn in health, it was harder to just joke around. It was hard for him to think of little else but that his grandfather, the man who had raised him like a son, was going to die. He didn't want to picture his life without his grandfather in it. But he was starting to see that was likely going to be his reality. Joel wasn't sure if he was ready for it.

    Joel gave Mandy a small smile back and was certain his grandfather would like the present. He couldn't wait until Christmas to give his grandfather the gift, because he wasn't sure his grandfather would be alive by then.

    "I don't think he will either."

    He replied and nodded his head at her question.

    "Yeah, he'd like that."

    Joel added, Mandy was one of the friends he and Nicole had that his grandfather was very fond of. Homer thought she was a nice girl and liked talking to her about music. Homer would say he thought Mandy had much better taste then a lot of people her age.

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