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Archives for : December1955

Christmas Is Really For Sharing

I knew that we were cutting it close. Christmas Eve should not be the night to put together a new bike. Since Zettie Louise had purchased Junior a new bike, we decided to upgrade Daisy’s. She had outgrown hers also and Steve had picked a new pink one up for her at Billy Bob’s bike shop. Truth be told, Steve is semi-mechanical and when there are years between assemblies, bikes can be a little tricky. It must have something to do with the chain because that’s when the swearing usually begins in the process.

One I took the kids off to bed, Steve nodded that he was going to start putting the bike together downstairs. I knew that I would be upstairs with the kids for awhile since there would be extra drinks of water and more books to read than a normal winter night. Both children were very excited about Santa coming down the chimney and we had left a small plate of cookies and some carrots for the reindeer. Daisy wanted to cook the carrots this year since she was convinced the reindeer were getting older and needed softer vegetables. I managed to talk her out of it by letting her know that they needed to eat the crunchy carrots to get the most benefit. My endless lies were sure adding up. Once Daisy was finally able to lay her head down, I went to check on Junior. I sat on the side of his bed and talked to him for a few minutes; there were some loud noises from downstairs that Junior asked about, but I told him that Daddy was working on the water heater. More lies. As his eyes slowly closed, I thought I heard Junior murmuring the word “bike.” I hoped that he didn’t know yet about Zettie Louise’s present and we had planned on letting him take some coffee cake down to her in the morning so that she could give it to him.

As expected, I found Steve surrounded by piles of pink bike pieces swearing about the chain. Why couldn’t someone invent a different way to spin wheels? I left the room hearing Steve asking if I was abandoning him but returned with two stiff drinks to help us through this crisis. I grabbed the instructions and read them one by one as we got the thing together and he tightened it. It was very girly like my little baby doll and I looked forward to seeing her zip down the sidewalks in the Spring. It was a little too cold right now to do more than a test drive and I imagined we would see many neighbors out tomorrow morning trying their new bikes out.

Early in the morning, Junior bounded out of bed and went to Daisy’s room to get her up so that they could check out the presents. Our rule for Christmas morning was to enter the living room together, so there was a slight delay while the kids laid on the bed with Steve trying to convince him that it was time to get up. I went to the kitchen to light a fire under the percolator hoping that the smell of coffee would help him. I had no idea how he could roll over and sleep with both kids talking right next to his ear, but he was tired. After the bike, we had a lot of presents to bring out and it took a little longer than usual getting to bed. Steve finally woke up after I brought his coffee to him and we all went out to see the gifts.

Junior stood very still just staring while Daisy clapped and jumped onto her bike. I noticed that Steve had brought out an extra well hidden gift or two for me and turned to give him a kiss. Junior was still just standing there staring. I asked him what was wrong and he looked so disappointed. I realized that he didn’t know about the bike. I was trying to figure out if we should tell him or not when the doorbell rang. I tightened my robe belt and ran my fingers through my hair. It was Zettie Louise at the door with Junior’s bike. I see that she had managed to get it together all by herself. After we exchanged greetings and she rolled in the bike, we let her talk to Junior so that he would understand that the bike was from her. He had huge smile on his face and when she held out her hand, he shook it and thanked her graciously. Steve and I stood there proudly surprised at his ability to act so grownup. We told the kids to wait a few minutes before starting to open the gifts and they only acted mildly upset since they had their bikes to check out. Steve, Zettie Louise and I went into the kitchen and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee. Zettie Louise explained that she didn’t want Steven to have to wait for his gift and she didn’t want to wait to see his face either. I should have realized that earlier; this would be the first Christmas that she had ever given a gift to a child. I know that Steve and I get a great thrill from seeing that kind of joy on the faces of our children. Christmas is special and Zettie Louise deserved to have that privilege too. We repoured our cups and all went back to see the rest of the presents get opened. There was a mess of paper everywhere when they were done and toys all over the carpet. Another happy holiday, this time with an unexpected additional family member.

The Spy Who Loved

It was unusual to get a request from Zettie Louise to come to tea. The last time she asked to talk ended well because she hired Junior to help her with tasks around the house. He had recently watered her plants again while she was away on one of her possible spy missions. I couldn’t imagine what Junior had done wrong to make Zettie Louise have to invite me over.

When I arrived at her house, a little table was set up with a porcelain teapot partially covered with a hand knitted cozy, a small plate of cookies, creamer and a sugar cup with tiny cubes, and two beautiful hand painted teacups. Zettie Louise could tell that I was admiring her service and told me that she had received it as a gift for a favor she had performed. I didn’t want to ask her any questions but wanted to know what kind of performance would merit such a beautiful set. I bit my tongue and asked if Junior was doing alright with his work.

When Zettie Louise told me that was the reason she had called, my heart sank and my mind started to rationalize reasons why he might be failing her expectations. Maybe Junior was still too little or maybe he didn’t understand what she wanted, or maybe I should not have agreed to this deal; the options went on and on. Actually, Zettie Louise said, that Steven was doing such a good job that she wanted to buy him a Christmas present and she wanted to check with me first.

I was stunned at the sweet idea. Zettie Louise noticed that Junior had outgrown his current bike and was ready for a taller one. I immediately wanted to say no due to the cost of such a gift, but Zettie Louise quieted me and asked me whether I used cream and sugar. I automatically answered “one lump” while she filled my cup, handed it to me and subsequently offered me a cookie. I tried to sneak a peek at the underside of the cup while Zettie was pouring hers and noticed that they were stamped “Occupied Japan.” These cookies must be the famous wheat germ type, so I only took one. I was grateful to them since Junior’s bowels had become so regular since he started to eat them at her house but was unsure what they would do to mine.

Zettie Louise continued to explain that she wanted to have Steven start to accompany her to the grocery in the Spring, with our permission, of course, and she had in mind the bike that she would purchase. She assured me that he would not be embarrassed by it but intended on having it fitted with a removable basket to help carry groceries.

I sat back and sipped my delicious tea and nibbled on the cookie. Zettie Louise had found a lovely way to thank Junior and enlist his future help. She went on to tell me quietly that she really enjoyed Steven’s company and because she had never had children, it gave her great joy to have found a neighborhood boy who didn’t mind spending time with her listening to her old stories. I knew that Junior had a fondness for her as well and I thanked her. I told her that if she didn’t mind, I would run the idea past Steve, but I was very touched by her proposal.

Life still surprises me sometimes. Junior was getting a new bike and the chance to develop a friendship with a wise woman who might really be a spy. I couldn’t stand in the way of that kind of life adventure. I planned to just tell Steve that the idea was a done deal.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Daisy’s dresses suddenly looked too short for her and with the coldest weather still ahead, her anklets would never keep her warm enough. So we headed to the department store. It would be a good time to check out winter coats also. I usually keep track of how tall the children grow by marking lines and dates with their names on the door jamb that separates the dining room and kitchen. The markings gradually grow up the wood and show the big gaps that occur with growth spurts. It was easy to see Stevie shoot up as his ankles gradually became more visible and his shirts stopped staying tucked in.

Daisy stood dutifully next to me as I sorted through the racks of dresses. I liked ones that were girly but not so fussy that she wouldn’t be uncomfortable playing in them. A great sailor dress or flower print always gets a second glance from me. They could be accessorized with hats and gloves to make them dressy. We took a good stack into the dressing room and started our fashion show. The added entertainment made the chore more palatable to Daisy. She did make faces if she didn’t like something about the look or feel of a dress but I knew her taste fairly well at this point. Even the prettiest of dresses sometimes had labels that were itchy and I made a note to remove those after getting home. Daisy does have her limits to tolerating the process and when she starts to whine or stand next to the glass mirror making faces, I try to wrap it up. We found a few keepers and returned to the sales room to look at coats.

This was not as much fun since her patience was already waning and they were hot to try on. She tried a few but none made the cut. She saw one on a mannequin that she liked and when we found that one in her size, she said it looked “wintry.” It was a warm blue coat with textured buttons and a hood with fur around the edges and a muff. She resembled a doll in it and I turned her towards the mirror to check out how cute she looked. Daisy’s smile lit up and I silently prayed for lots of cold weather so she could wear it many times. Since I was wishing up cold weather, I was tempted to go and try on a fur or two. I sure would love a nice mink coat to keep me warm.

Daisy and I headed to the Crystal Tea Room for lunch. Our plates had dainty chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts off, grapes, apple slices and buttery crackers. I let Daisy spread butter and jam on her crackers and she was surprisingly dainty. My little girl was growing up in so many ways. I looked at her face and tried to imagine what her teenager face would look like. She had those angelic curls now but how long would those last?