I’ve made a list.” Rose Jackson looked up from her tablet and stared briefly out of the window before looking over at her husband to see if he was paying attention. He was not.
“I’ve made a list,” she repeated, “and I need you to look at it, Andrew.”
Andrew looked up from the newspaper he was reading. “Have you checked it twice?” he asked. “Because I don’t want to waste my time looking at a list that hasn’t been checked at least twice.”
“I’ve checked it, like, eight times,” said Rose, “but I still feel like I might have left something off.”
“Sometimes you forget the kitchen sink,” said Andrew.
“The kitchen sink doesn’t need to be on this list,” said Rose. “This is not a list of things I would replace if we won the lottery.” She leaned out of her chair towards Andrew and extended the tablet. He reached out and took it from her, then sat silent for a moment while he studied what was on it.
“Milk and cookies,” he said at last. “You forgot the milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. That’s like the most important thing.”
“See?” said Rose. “I knew it. I knew I would forget something.”
“Everything else seems to be here though,” said Andrew. “I would call this a thoroughly comprehensive list.” He handed the tablet back to Rose.
“Now comes the fun part,” she said.
“There’s a fun part?” said Andrew. “I must have missed that.”
“The fun part,” said Rose, “is where I print out a copy of the list and then use a yellow highlighter to mark all of the things on it that YOU have to do. It’s a fun part for me anyway,” she added.
“You know what would make that list fun for both of us?” said Andrew.
“What?” asked Rose.
“If the first item on it was ‘fly to Cancun on December 22,’” said Andrew, “and then all the subsequent items were erased.”
“As tempting as that might be,” said Rose, “it could only happen if we won the lottery and we’ve already established that if we win the lottery we’re going to use the money to put in a new kitchen sink.”
“If we win the lottery,” said Andrew, “and only get enough money to buy a kitchen sink, that will be more disappointing than not winning the lottery at all.”
“Either way, it’s not something I’m going to spend time worrying about,” said Rose. She studied the list for a second. “What’s the first thing you’re going to get done?” she asked.
“Finish my coffee,” said Andrew.
“I mean from the list,” said Rose. “What’s the first thing on the list that you’re going to get done?”
Andrew pondered that for a moment. “I think the first thing I’ll do is buy new Christmas lights for the trees in the front yard.”
“That’s not even on the list,” said Rose. “And what’s wrong with the old lights?”
“The old lights are boring,” said Andrew, “which makes them boring to put up. I want to buy some new lights with more pizzazz which will make putting them up exciting and fun.”
“There is no way we are going to get everything on my list done in time to be ready for Christmas if we try to make everything on the list fun,” said Rose. “Since when is Christmas about having fun? Christmas is about me making lists so everything ends up being perfect so that if anybody is disappointed about anything I can rest assured that it wasn’t my fault.”
“Of course it is. I can’t believe I forgot that,” said Andrew. “It’s so easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas.”
“I know, right?” said Rose. “I have to keep reminding myself.”
“I guess I SHOULD put the lights up though, one of these days,” said Andrew. “I was planning to wait till it was 40 below outside, with a howling north wind, but I’m thinking that might not happen before Christmas, so my next worst option is to do it when it’s raining.”
“I don’t care when you do it,” said Rose, “I just want to stroke it off the list when you’re done.”
“Are we getting one of those $80 organic turkeys again this year?” asked Andrew. “That was a damn fine turkey,” he added.
“Eighty dollars is worth it, just for the gravy,” said Rose.
“Oh yeah, turkey gravy!” said Andrew. “Are you sure THAT isn’t the true meaning of Christmas?”
“Pretty sure,” said Rose. “Although if Christmas didn’t already have meaning, turkey gravy would certainly give it some.” She paused. “I’m going to print out the list now, and give you your copy.”
“Awesome.” Andrew picked up his coffee cup and took a sip. “I’ll get right on that,” he said.