Three and a half hours earlier, when mom announced that Stacy couldn’t go caroling unless her sister went too, Mellissa was ecstatic. She loved to sing, she loved Christmas, she loved snow; and she loved being with her older sister. Then Mellissa looked at Stacy’s face, closed and tight, her cheeks the dark pink they turned when she bottled her anger, and all enthusiasm drained from her.
Mellissa didn’t complain as mom wrapped her in layers of clothes. Not only would the warm layers protect her from the cold, she thought of them as a shield against her sister’s wrath. And mom, as usual, was too busy to notice that the excited gleam was gone from her youngest daughter’s eyes.
Stacy’s friends were nice enough after mom dropped them off at Marci’s house, but Mellissa knew she wasn’t welcome, not really, and so all evening she hid behind Stacy or stood close by her side, refusing to sing or say anything. That wasn’t hard to do, since they all ignored her. And after a while, she wondered why she had thought it would be fun to go out with these guys anyway? They made rude remarks about each other and about the people whose houses they just left, even though their stomachs were warmed by cocoa and warm cookies, and their ears flushed bright red from the profusion of compliments. Many houses were passed by with derogatory comments rifled through the group about the homeowners lack of generosity in past years.