How did this happen?” Rose Jackson gazed out of the window at the snow drifting down outside. She set her coffee cup on the table and sighed.
Andrew looked up from his newspaper. “How did what happen?” he asked.
“How did it get to be a week till Christmas and I haven’t even started getting ready? I’ve done no baking, no shopping, I haven’t sent cards…nothing. I’m going to wake up on Boxing Day and I’ll have completely missed Christmas.” Rose gestured towards the family room. “We got a tree in there that has one ornament on it.”
“The tree has an ornament on it?” said Andrew. “Since when?”
“Since yesterday,” said Rose. “Jenn got one from her secret Santa at school. It’s a tiny little miniature purse. It’s like the least Christmassy ornament ever.”
“It’s a start,” said Andrew.
“You haven’t answered my question,” said Rose.
“Ah yes,” said Andrew. “How did this happen?” He pondered that for a moment. “A series of unfortunate events,” he said. “Well actually one unfortunate event and one just unusual event. You broke your arm. That was the unfortunate event. The unusual event was winter not showing up till the second week of December.”
He followed his wife’s gaze out the window. “Between those two events, frankly, nobody around here is ready. I mean winter is supposed to set in at least five or six weeks before Christmas so people have time to get in the spirit. Nobody thinks about it when it’s warm, which I prove every year by not going to pick out a tree until it’s at least minus 25 outside. Even if that doesn’t happen till December 10.”
“That’s so true,” said Rose. “I just hate when it sneaks up on us like this.”
“You want to go shopping this afternoon? I got nothing major on the go today,” said Andrew, leaning back in his chair. “What do we have to buy anyway? I can’t get used to the fact that the kids are grown up and we don’t have to do the whole Santa Claus thing anymore. It’s not like it was in the old days.”
“Ah yes,” said Rose smiling. “The good old days. Where did they go?”
“Remember when Randy was a little tyke and he came home from school and said they were doing a play called The Gift of the Magpie?” Andrew laughed. “Said it was about Magpies that came from the East, and then Brady corrected him and said magpies don’t come from the East, they come from the dump.”
“A simple misunderstanding,” said Rose. “My favourite Christmas memory is still the one of Brady, when he was in kindergarten, performing the entire Christmas Pageant peering out from behind the curtain instead of on stage with the rest of the class.”
“And remember how upset he was when we told him he was getting a little sister for Christmas?” Andrew chuckled. “He wouldn’t stop crying till we told him we’d give the baby sister to Randy and get him a Tonka truck instead.”
“I remember,” said Rose, still smiling. “And when Jenn was four we gave her that dollhouse and she was upset because it didn’t come with a barn, and where was Barbie’s horse supposed to sleep in the wintertime?”
There was a moment of silence while the two of them sat, remembering.
“It’s the best thing about Christmas,” said Andrew at length. “The memories.”
“The memories and the children,” said Rose. “This year, there’s little Allison and next year Allison will have a little brother or a little sister. We’ve started making memories all over again haven’t we?”
“I guess we have,” said Andrew. “And speaking of memories, this’ll be one for Jennifer. I bought a gift for her yesterday.”
Rose looked surprised. “Really? We never discussed that, did we?”
Andrew shook his head. “It was an impulse,” he said. “Remember I left my boots at Jack’s Leathers to get them fixed? I went to pick them up yesterday and Jack had a new saddle in for sale. Beautiful. I just couldn’t pass it up. She needs a saddle you know. Her old one is just falling apart. I know it’s a lot of money, but I thought we could make it a joint Christmas/birthday present.”
“You spoil that girl to death,” said Rose. “But, it’s one less thing to do between now and Christmas.”
Andrew grinned and picked up his mug. “That’s the spirit,” he said. “Here’s to Christmas memories,” he added.
Rose lifted her own mug. “To Christmas memories old and new,” she said.