968. Christmas Wrapping

Christmas morning went exactly the way it should for a five-year-old and not bad for the rest of us either. When Ziggy and I arrived at the house, Landon was already completely sugared up and had opened one of his gifts “from Santa”–a toy truck–and was preceding to turn the living room into a miniature monster-truck rally.

Janine had made him wait until we got there to open anything else. When she thought he wasn’t listening to us, she said to me, “You know, I don’t know if it’s healthy for him to eat that much chocolate and sugar at once.”

“Is it really that much more sugar than he’d get from a breakfast of IHOP chocolate chip pancakes?” I replied.

“At least then he’d get some bacon.”

“I’m sure if one of us makes some bacon we can get him to eat some.” I thought about how being really honest to Claire had kind of worked out and maybe I ought to keep that up. Especially since Claire didn’t appear to be downstairs yet. “Didn’t you say it was being deprived as a kid that made you rebel now?”

Janine gave me a death glare, but only a mild one, since it was Christmas. And because I was right. “Yeah, well. That’s why I let him do it.” She huffed. “But I still think maybe you guys overdid it with the candy in the stockings.”

“Don’t look at me. All I put in Landon’s stocking was–”

She shushed me quickly as Landon himself ran over her foot with the truck. “You guys didn’t look in your stockings yet!”

“What?” I looked at the fireplace and sure enough, there were several colorful stockings hanging there. Our names were on them in silver Sharpie. Huh.

“I’ll get it for you!”

“No, that’s…” I could see there was no deterring Santa’s little helper. “Sure, just be careful getting it down.”

Ziggy sat down next to me and put two cups of coffee on the coffee table, but before I could reach for mine, Landon plopped my stocking in my lap and then ran to get Ziggy’s for him. Courtney retrieved her own but set it on the armchair while looking in the direction of the stairs to the upper floor.

“Mom awake yet?” she asked. Before anyone could answer, she answered herself: “I’ll check on her.”

My stocking was red and green plaid, lined in green satin, and it was heavy. I had no idea who had put up stockings besides the one for Landon. When Zig and I had left the night before, they weren’t there. So that left three possibilities: Courtney, Claire, or Janine.

Or Santa, I suppose. I knew Remo didn’t do it since he wouldn’t be here until much later today, and it couldn’t have been me or Ziggy unless I was having blackouts, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t.

Janine was right. There was a lot of chocolate in there. And candy canes. And other stuff including these cherry candies that we used to have as kids that I hadn’t seen in years. “Oh man, I love these! I didn’t even know they were still making them.” They came in a roll sort of like Lifesavers except they didn’t have a hole. I put the roll into the pocket of my flannel shirt for later.

Digging down I found a pack of multi-colored guitar picks in one of my preferred types (Fender medium). And some other assorted things that could be handy, like a keychain flashlight, clips that keep pairs of socks together in the wash (who knew that was a thing?) and so on.

Ziggy seemed both amused and bemused by what he was finding in his own stocking. Eyeliner, a few bottles of nail polish in interesting colors, a gold-plated keychain of a letter Z. He took the foil off a few of the chocolates and dropped them into his coffee.

Janine’s had a gift certificate to the local beauty salon. Court came down and said Claire was on her way, and then got her own stocking. She found a day-planner appointment book and a couple of other day-job appropriate things.

Claire appeared in her bathrobe and slippers a short while later—her face made up and her hair done, but in bathrobe and slippers nonetheless. Landon hurried to deliver her stocking, too.

“What is this?” She looked at the stocking in her lap like he’d put a dead squirrel there.

“Santa brings them,” Landon said seriously. Sounding very much like her, he added, “It’s a tradition.

That cracked us all up pretty good. And we all ate too much candy before we got around to cooking that bacon and other sensible things to eat.

Claire was very quiet. This was unusual, since in any typical hour with her there would have been at least one criticism of someone’s appearance, one unrealistic expectation, and two attention-getting maneuvers. No one knew what to do about the fact she wasn’t acting like her normal self, so we just carried on as usual. But like I said, a not-bad morning.

The afternoon was a different story. Anyone want to place bets on who showed up? Go on, take your guesses. I’ll be back to tell you soon.


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