Thursday, December 22, 2011

the christmas caper

There I was, spinning through the days of the Christmas season, caught up in the stress of work and a depressed mood I just couldn't shake.  I was irritable and snapping at my staff at work, and just as Scrooged out and Grinched up as a person could get.

I had to hurry up and wrap the grandkid's gifts because Stevie Wonder was picking the twins up and I knew that if I didn't wrap them, they would ferret them out of my favorite hiding places.  I spent more time than normal on the wrapping, which amounted to adding real ribbon to the packages and tying bows.  I stacked them under the tree and off to work I went, knowing everything was as wrapped up at home as I could get it.  My mood was still dark, and I was just trying to get through the day.  All that was about to change.

I worked late, and by the time I got home, the day was mostly gone.  I took a deep breath as I stepped out of the car, as I looked up and saw Maddie holding the door open for me in the blustery, cool night air.  I grabbed my work bag and cell phone and slowly dragged myself out of the car and to the door.  I was tired and had no energy, and wondered if I would make it until bedtime.

Maddie said "Grammy where WERE you?", and I told her I had been at work.  She nodded in that knowing six year old way of hers, and we went into the house.  She gave me a big hug and said "Dunc and I made cookies, come SEE!" and ran to the dining room table to show me two cookie sheets full of cookies, and a big plastic container half full from earlier batches.  I looked at them and at her face as she grabbed one and said "they taste great!".  Then I noticed they were burned on the bottom.  Stevie Wonder had tried two different cooking times on each batch and they all burned.  Not black, but enough to leave a piquant charcoal aftertaste in your mouth, and instead of being soft to bite into, they crunched like crackers.

Maddie smiled at me as she showed me her treasure trove of cookies and crunched on one loudly.  That was when Stevie Wonder told me about the gifts.

"The kids looked through every gift as soon as we got home, and read all the names on the packages.  Then I had to go outside for a few minutes and when I came in, they told me that Dunc had accidently torn the paper on Maddie's gift.  I have it over here by me so they can't see inside."

I looked at Maddie.  When I was a kid, I was one of the best sneak-untaper-and-retaper of gifts that ever existed, so I knew what had happened.  I watched as Maddie slowly stopped crunching her cookie.  Her mouth dropped open and for a couple seconds she was speechless.  Then her brain kicked back into gear and she piped out sweetly: "yes but I didn't see what was inside."

I raised one eyebrow, and she repeated what she had said, trying to use a more convincing tone.  I walked over to SW and looked at the gift in question.  Yep, a big hole in it, and then, suspiciously, long tears going in three or four different directions.  I called Dunc to the living room to explain what happened.  He verified that it was his fault.  Then I asked Duncan how it happened.  Maddie demonstrated as she answered for him that he had tripped on the hearth and fallen on the gift by accident.

I asked Dunc if that was true.  He said yep that was how it happened, with a wide-eyed bland 'I'm only partly to blame' look on his face.  I looked around at Maddie, who was humped up in a ball on the couch by now, and asked her the fatal question...or rather, I stated it....

"You did see inside that package didn't you?"

She shook her head no, but her mouth was open in a toothless grin.  I knew what her next move would be.  Win Grammy over with a smile and humor.  I wasn't buying it.  I was laughing inside by now, but had a straight look on my face.  I repeated my accusation...

"You did look inside didn't you?"
She finally realized I wasn't mad and nodded, the grin still in place but a little shaky around the edges of her mouth.

I took the package to another room and taped the edges back together.  Maddie followed me and asked if I was I rewrapping it.  I said no, there was only one wrap per gift, and hers was getting a repair job.  She seemed ok with my answer, and returned to the living room to her blanket on the couch.

I finished and took it back to its place by the tree.  As I straightened up Maddie took her last shot at convincing me the contents were still a secret and said:

"Grammy I looked but I didn't see anything.  I didn't see a remote control in it."

I looked around at her, grinned and said:

"That's good Maddie, because it's a Barbie doll."  Her mouth dropped open in shock.

She hates Barbie dolls.

Score one for evil Grammy.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie
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