6:00 pm Christmas Day
As the church bells rang out, the guests at the house on Festive Lane began to gather their belongings and bid their hosts a good evening until next Christmas. Harry, Susan, and the kids stood by the front door and wished each guest a Merry Christmas and safe travels to their place on the other side. Guests would leave in the reverse order that they arrived; thus, Harry and Susan’s parents, who arrived first, would depart last. The guests walked out the front door and into the night, disappearing into a blizzard one by one. Carrying only the trays that they brought with them, now void of all cakes, cookies, and waffles, the guests filed out in quick order. Now it was Ernest who was preparing to leave.
“Ernest, what do you have there?” asked Martha.
“My phone that Santa gave me,” he replied.
“Oh dear, you are not allowed to take anything back with you that you didn’t bring with you when you arrived,” Martha said.
“But I have to keep it with me so I can talk to daddy,” Ernest said desperately.
“Martha, Santa did give it to him. It wouldn’t be right not to let him keep it,” said Susan, unaware that the phone was actually Victor’s old phone.
“What’s the worst that can happen if he takes the phone back with him?” asked Harry.
“He won’t be allowed to return to this house ever again,” said Martha.