“I am so proud of you sweetheart!” Rose Jackson set her coffee cup down on the dining room table across from her husband Andrew, who raised and peered at her over the top of the sports section he was reading.
“And well you should be,” he said. “What for though?”
“The Christmas lights,” said Rose. “Last year at this time those lights were still sitting in a tangled ball on the chair inside the front entrance. But not this year. This year they have already been sitting in a tangled ball outside on the porch for over a week.”
“Every year it gets a little better,” said Andrew. “Depending on the weather. Some years it gets worse. Just to be honest.”
“When do you think you’ll get the lights up?” asked Rose.
“My plan is to do it this afternoon,” said Andrew. “Unless the weather turns horrible,” he added hopefully.
“The forecast is pretty good,” said Rose.
Andrew heaved a sigh. “Just my luck,” he said.
Rose picked up her mug and took a sip of her coffee. “I am so excited for Christmas,” she said.
Andrew looked at her quizzically. “Why?” he asked.
“Because it’s Christmas!” said Rose. “Shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, children, grandchildren, Christmas music! What’s not to be excited about?”
“Shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, children, grandchildren and Christmas music, for starters,” said Andrew. “I’m not excited about any of those things.” He paused for a moment. “Except the grandchildren. I’m a little excited about those.”
“You’re not excited about the children?” said Rose. “They’ll all be here for dinner on Christmas Day you know.”
“To be honest,” said Andrew, “I don’t really think of them as our children at this point. I think of them more just as the people who look after our grandchildren.”
Rose was undeterred. “Well anyway, they are still our kids and we have to buy presents for all of them. What do you think we should get them?”
“Cash,” said Andrew. “Fifty bucks each. That way if they don’t like what they buy with it it’s their own fault.”
“I was thinking,” said Rose, “that we should get central air conditioning for Randy and Jackie’s house. And for Brady and Amanda, we should get an actual house. And for Jennifer we should get a $5,000 gift certificate to a bridal salon for when she and Alan finally decide to get married, which it’s high time they did, in my opinion. Not that my opinion matters, apparently.”
“I’ll go as high as a 100 bucks,” said Andrew, “but that’s it.”
“What about the grandchildren?” said Rose.
Andrew pondered that for a moment.
“I think we should take the grandchildren to Disneyland,” he said.
“What?” said Rose. “Just the two of us and the grandchildren?”
“Well, no,” said Andrew. “We would have to take the parents as well, to look after the grandchildren when we’re not, you know, Disneyland-ing.”
“Yeah, no,” said Rose. “They’re too young for Disneyland. They wouldn’t be allowed on the rides because they have to be this tall. Sorry, but it’s going to be at least five years before you get to go to Disneyland, honey.”
“Well, that’s disappointing,” said Andrew. “What’s the point of even having grandchildren then?”
Rose ignored him. “I think we should go to the city next weekend and basically clean out the Toys-R-Us,” she said. “And then we should go to Ten Spa at the Fort Garry Hotel and get the full Hamam treatment and then have a late dinner in the Palm Lounge while we listen to live music before going up to our top-floor suite with the king-size bed and the down comforter and the complimentary champagne.”
“Almost all of that sounds absolutely terrible,” said Andrew. “Unless Woody Holler is playing in the Palm Lounge. A little yodelling would go a long way toward making the day bearable. The king-size bed with the down comforter is also a selling feature. I’d play that up if I were you.”
Rose gave him a sly look. “A king-size bed with a down comforter,” she said, “with me in it.”
“Now you’re talking,” said Andrew.
“We probably won’t be able to get into the spa on such short notice though,” said Rose.
“That would be a relief,” said Andrew. “We could just go for a swim and sit in the hot tub for a while. That’s pretty much the same thing.”
“That it definitely is not,” said Rose. “Is it a plan then? Next weekend? Shopping, then the spa, then dinner, then… ”
“Say no more,” said Andrew. “I’ll do it, but I refuse to look forward to it.”
“I’ll call the spa on the off chance,” said Rose.
“If you must,” said Andrew.
“Probably all booked up,” said Rose.
Andrew nodded. “Here’s hoping,” he said.