“He’s going to bake me in a pie!” The tot rushed at me as I walked in the door, tears pouring down her cheeks.
“Nobody is going to bake you in a pie,” I said, hearing a devious giggle from the older brother nearby. Immediately the tot stopped crying and carried on about her business. Sometimes we all just need a little reassurance—toddlers are just a tiny bit more ridiculous about it.
The Christmas Walk
I tossed Big Dog’s leash onto the table, where the metal clanged. Big Dog looked at me, innocent eyed. It had been a less than peaceful walk. Headphones on, I was deaf to the sounds around me. We walked on the street next to a house, and a small dog decided to lunge at Big Dog. The dog was about twice the length of Big Dog’s snout, but his ego must have been making up for the rest. Big Dog of course lunged forward, trying to pull me toward the dog’s property—he couldn’t be shown up by that midget. The instantaneous thought was that if this had to happen, it would be in the street. I jerked him backward, as that little fool hardy thing charged us onto the blacktop. And then, the little creature changed its mind at the last second – a Christmas miracle.
Adrenaline still coursing through the veins, I traveled to the garage to be handed down the Christmas decorations from the attic. I was telling the story of Big Dog the Beast, when the bottom side of a box gave way at the attic door, and Christmas ornaments rained down the steps and onto the garage floor. The tot spoke up quickly, in her most cheerful tot voice.
Sweet Christmas Optimism
“I will help you pick them off papa’s floor!” The tot was excited about this, and apparently thinks the garage is her papa’s exclusive property. Fragments of childhood memories were scattered all around, several shattered, but it was hard to be sad about it with such a cheerful assistant.
We don’t generally decorate before the first of December—November belongs to fall and not until the first day of December does winter and Christmas arrive. The kids were excited about it though, so it seemed unnecessary to wait.
Cheap people buy a fake Christmas tree and keep it for ten years. Ours might be going on year twelve. I strongly dislike putting the thing together, but this year I had the boy to assist with his five-year-old abilities of having me do almost everything, and then having me do the rest of what he was doing. It was a boost to tree-putting-together morale.
“Ooo, it’s almost up!” The tot said when I had attached three branches to the very bottom. Such a good, cup half-full kind of girl she is. Three down, fifty to go, I thought. After this exclamation she sat down in a pile of boxes and declared, “I’m sitting in the Christmas tree house.” The sound of her feet drumming against cardboard was a rhythm to work by. Fluff the branch, hand it to the boy, then help him snap it in; fluff, hand, snap…fluff, hand, snap…fluff, hand, snap…
The Pretty Christmas Lady at the Top
I can never quite reach the top of the tree, so I just throw garland and lights up there and hope for the best. My tree always strikes me as the work of someone on her fourth mug of the spiked eggnog. Fortunately after the children finished putting the newly mangled ornaments onto the tree, it was so coated no one could really evaluate the look of intoxicated disorder. I moved on to other decorations that needed to be crooked or otherwise set in place haphazardly.
“My finger!” the tot ran to me, tears running down her cheeks. She held up a tiny pointer finger, looking slightly more pink than normal. I eyed the boy. That decorative nutcracker was essentially a little sister trap, just waiting there on the hall table, begging to be used. I gave him the look while he feigned innocence. The tot quickly forgot her troubles, looking up at the top of the tree. “Lift me up, so I can see the angel.”
I remembered then how it was as a child. That angel looks so beautiful to little girls—more classy and elegant than a model on a magazine cover, more mysterious by nature, and elusive so very high up. She looked with wonder up at the pretty porcelain cheeks.
I stepped back and gazed at our work. Not half bad for a Day-After-Thanksgiving Christmas tree.