Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Candle

-Take this exit
-No, I want to show you something.

The car exits, takes a right and follows the directions given from the passenger seat.

-There. Stop at that house there. Up on the right.
-The blue one?
-No, the one after that with the green shutters.
-Do you have a friend here? What are we doing here?
-I used to live here.

The air is warm and edging on the stifling thickness of humidity known to make the nights breath palpable and the days interminable hours lazy. The car squeaks as it makes its arrival sonically known to a dog on the opposite side of the block, which immediately barks.

-When was the last time you were there?
-Before we moved in ‘94.
-Do you remember much?

-I know, haha, but that’s how work parties are.
-How are things with you and that other cook?
-With me and Tev? Fine, I guess. She talked at me and I listened.
-Jenni babe? Are you almost done in there?
-Jenni’s home?
-Yes, she got in last night.

The house started to buzz with voices as the door swung open in uneven increments. Immediate family- brothers, sisters and thus sons and daughters of the deed holders walked into the house that some still lived in and some had since moved out of. A few babies came with, the true noisemakers, and even a friend or two throughout the day.

-Get the pumpkin pie out of the fridge and preheat the oven for the frozen apple pie, would ya?
-Hold on mom.
-Just don’t forget!
-Don’t use that tone with me!
-I’m not. God.
-You’re so dramatic, Seth.
-Shut up, Jenni.

The Wisconsin winter of 1994 was not memorable in any particular way, which means it was absolutely beautiful. Not too harsh and enough snow to be content. True connoisseurs of words may go as far as to try to invoke poetic connotations attached to that winter with words like pulchritude. Those brave enough would have been right enough- that winter was truly beautiful.

-The baby is crying again.
-Pick her up!
-She’s crying harder now.
-Oh give her here. Grandma’s got you.
-She just loves her Gramma, don’t you? Yes you do. Yes you do!
-I’m glad you don’t talk to me like that anymore, mom.
-Did you get those pies yet?

Soon the house was the target scent of candle makers trying to capture the essence of Christmas. Walking into the kitchen was one candle- the living room another. The fresh cut Fraser fir would hit your nostrils before it hit your eyes.

-Are you staying for dinner, too, Josh?
-No I can go home.
-It’s okay, Josh. You know I want to feed you!
-Are you sure?
-Am I sure. Ha! Jenni, make another spot at the table.
-Thanks mom.
-Of course, son.
-Mom, you’re going to scare Josh away.
-No I’m not. He just called me mom.
-Don’t encourage her, man.

They ate in general peace- no outbursts and everyone passed the greens when they were asked. The long nights of winter robbed the day from gracing the idyllic scene past five, and that robber was at the door of a house with green shutters. Houses with chimneys apparently felt that the holidays were a time for blazing fireplaces. That was, of course, until bedtime on the 24th.

-Well that was nice. What say we save dessert for after church?
-But dad, it’s all already out! The pie will get cold.
-Alright just a piece for everyone who wants one. But we have to be quick—everyone needs to be ready in fifteen minutes. Can we do that?
-Get one for me too!
-Get one for yourself.
-Fine. Uhhk.
-Didn’t I tell him that he was dramatic, mom?
-Jenni, don’t start.
-Well he is.
-Jenni, please.

After church eggnog was served­­—holiday-nog for the adults. Some of the younger kids still had yet to figure out what the difference was. The adults insisted that there was no difference, but the children were swatted away from any attempts to steal a sip. It was a tradition—eggnog and holiday-nog after church.

-What do you kids think? Presents now or presents in the morning?
-Oh Kyle, do you even need to ask that anymore?
-Of course, dear, what if they had a change in heart?
-Well kids you can open one from us now and the rest will have to wait until the morning! Besides, Santa still has to come, doesn’t he?
-Okay, you first Izzy.
-Mom don’t call me that! It makes me sound like a girl.
-Well I think it’s cute.
-Here ya go, Israel, let’s see what’s in this one.
-Thanks daddy.

Soon, all of the children were tucked in and the good night kisses accompanied with warnings of what would happen if they tried to get up and catch Santa putting gifts under the tree. The threat of no presents at all was always enough for most of the children.

-Guess who I found in the bathroom closet?
-Uh oh. Who was it?
-Kathy! I think she was hiding out trying to catch Santa.
-She’s so cute!
-Remember when you found out about Santa?
-You mean found out about you? Web of lies, guys, real nice.
-Oh Jenni. You didn’t seem that devastated.
-I know, I know. Just messing around with you guys.
-Do you think we should tell them one of these years?
-They’ll figure it out when they figure it out, mom.

That night none of the adults set an alarm clock; two loud ones were already stirring on the second floor, wiping the drool from the corner of their respective mouths, caught in a battle to sleep in all the excitement pent up for the morning.

The car idles as the two travelers sit in silence, looking at the house. Presently, a child runs out of the front door with a big black dog. They both stop and look at the car.

A pause.
-Nothing much happened.
-Best Christmas that I have ever had.