Diana has a plan to make Christmas in Florida feel more like Christmas.

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Christmas would be hard on everybody this year.Diana had to admit it. Wearing shorts and a summer shirt to shop for a Christmas tree was weird. Back in Minnesota everyone would be bundled up in winter coats and mittens. Christmas-tree lots would smell like Christmas, not like the beach. And there would be real snow on the trees, not this fake stuff.


“How about this one?” asked Mom, pointing to a tree just her height.


“Fine,” said Emily with an exaggerated sigh.


“Whatever,” said Jared. Diane nudged her brother and sister. Christmas was going to be hard on everybody this year. There was no reason to make Mom feel worse than she already did. “It’s a nice tree, Mom,” said Diana.


Mom smiled. “Thanks, honey.”


Diana helped Mom lug the tree over to the cashier. Then she turned to Jared and Emily. “Come on, you guys. Let’s try to have a nice Christmas.”


Jared and Emily stared blankly at Diana. She couldn’t really blame them. This was the family’s first Christmas in Florida. It was the first Christmas since Dad died. How could they possibly have a nice Christmas?


Diana thought back to last Christmas. That one hadn’t started out any better. There had been only one present for everybody last year—a trip to Florida to visit Grandma and Grandpa. But a blizzard shut down the Minneapolis airport, and they ended up stuck in Minnesota.


Dad had refused to let a blizzard ruin their Christmas. “Everybody outside!” he bellowed. He chased them through the snow, then helped them make snow angels and snow sculptures.


“This is more fun than going to the beach!” Emily had said.


“More fun than seeing alligators,” Jared had said.


This year they were living in Florida with Grandma and Grandpa. And Dad wasn’t there to help them make the best of things.


“Let’s get this tree decorated,” said Grandpa after they’d gotten it into the house and positioned it on the tree stand. He smiled. “Your Aunt Maggie and Uncle Tom are flying in tomorrow. What will they think if they see a Christmas tree without any decorations?”


Diana helped Grandpa untangle the string of lights. Emily and Jared sorted through boxes of ornaments. Mom and Grandma wrapped presents. These things were supposed to be fun. But they weren’t.


Suddenly Diana felt tired of pretending that everything was normal. She ran back to the bedroom she shared with Emily and Mom, and threw herself down on the hideaway bed. Who cared whether or not the tree got decorated? Maybe they should just skip Christmas this year. What would Aunt Maggie and Uncle Tom think of that?


Diana thought of Aunt Maggie and Uncle Tom driving to the airport in Minneapolis. She had an idea. She opened the door a crack to make sure no one was listening. Then she picked up the phone and dialed her aunt and uncle’s number.


“I don’t know,” said Aunt Maggie after Diana had explained her idea. “Do you really think it would work?”


“Please try,” begged Diana. “It would mean a lot to Jared and Emily—to all of us, really.”


Aunt Maggie sighed. “OK. We’ll try.”


The next day, Grandpa and Mom drove to the airport to pick up Aunt Maggie and Uncle Tom. Diana waited back at the house. She paced from room to room, checking each window as she passed it. As soon as she saw the station wagon pull into the driveway, she raced out the door. “Did you bring it?” she asked, pressing her nose against the car window.


“We brought it,” said Aunt Maggie with a grin.


Did you bring it?Uncle Tom opened the hatchback. He grabbed two suitcases, then cocked his head toward a big red cooler. That was it!


Diana grabbed the cooler and pulled. It was heavy, but she managed to get it out of the car by herself. “Jared! Emily!” she yelled. ”Come see what I got you for Christmas.”


“We don’t open presents before Christmas,” said Mom.


“This one has to be opened before Christmas,” said Diana. She dragged the cooler to the middle of the yard.


“What is it?” asked Emily.


“Open it and see.”


Jared and Emily both grabbed the latch and lifted the lid. Their eyes widened when they saw what was inside.


“I don’t believe it,” said Emily.


“What is it?” asked Grandma.


“It’s snow!” cried Jared as he flung a handful into the air.


“More like slush,” said Uncle Tom as he peered inside the cooler.


“It can’t be,” said Mom.


“Yes, it can!” said Diana. She plunged her hands into the cold slush, formed a ball, and threw it at her brother.


“Hey!” cried Jared, wiping his shirt. “You’re gonna get it now!” He dived for the cooler, grabbed a handful of snow, and heaved it at Diana. It whacked her in the shoulder, then dribbled down her bare arm.


Soon snow was flying everywhere. Even the grownups were digging in. Mom made a tiny snow dog in the palm of her hand. Grandma put a handful of snow against her forehead to cool off.


They threw snow around until all that was left in the cooler was water. Then they all dropped to the ground exhausted. Bits of snow clung to the grass around them.


“Dad would have liked this,” Emily said suddenly.


“Yes, he would have,” said Mom.


“He would have liked seeing you people enjoying yourselves again, that’s for sure,” said Grandma.


“I wish Dad were here with us,” said Emily. Diana stared up at the bright blue sky. “He is,” she said. She knew that Dad was with them, in their hearts, and he always would be.