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.