Mommy’s Christmas

Six-year-old Justin was playing on the floor with his cars. His mother leaned down and kissed him. “I’m taking Alison for her checkup; then I’m going shopping. I won’t be back until suppertime. Be good for Daddy while I’m gone,” she said.

“I will,” Justin promised. When Mother had left, Justin puckered his thick eyebrows. “I think Mommy’s sad,” he told Daddy.

“Oh? Why do you think that?”

“Because Christmas is almost here, and she told me that it’ll be over before she can enjoy it.” Jason explained.

“Mommy’s been very busy the past two months with both a new baby and a new house,” Daddy said. “She hasn’t had time to do all the special things that she likes to do for us at Christmastime.”

“I know, Daddy. Christmas is just a week away, and we don’t even have our tree up yet.” Justin bit his lip thoughtfully.

“Maybe we can put one up and decorate it tomorrow,” Daddy said.

Justin’s blue eyes sparkled. “Why don’t we do it now and surprise her?”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Daddy replied. “Let’s get busy.”

“We can save some ornaments for Mommy to put on, too,” Justin said. “I know which ones are her favorites.”

By lunchtime, the tree was decorated. “It’s beautiful,” Justin sighed.

“So are you,” Daddy teased, pulling tinsel out of Justin’s hair.

Justin giggled. “What’s for lunch?”

“How about chicken noodle sandwiches and peanut butter soup? My own secret recipe.” Daddy always joked about his cooking.

“Yeah!” Justin shouted, jumping up and down. “And I’ll make the milk and pour the salad. My own secret recipe!”

After lunch Justin helped clear the table. “Mommy hasn’t made Christmas cookies this year, either,” he said. “Can we do that, too, Daddy?”

“That’s a big job,” Daddy said as he washed the dishes. “After you mix the dough, it has to chill for a long time. Then you have to roll it out and cut out the shapes. And I’m not sure I know what recipe your mom uses.”

“We could buy the rolled-up cookie dough at the store. You just slice the dough and put it on the cookie sheet. If we put colored sugar on them to make them pretty, they’d look like Christmas tree balls.”

Daddy laughed. “You’re full of ideas today, aren’t you? Get your coat. We’re going to the store.”

“Yea!” Justin yelled as he dashed through the house.

Later that afternoon Justin knelt on a stool and leaned over the kitchen counter as he helped his dad. The whole house smelled of freshly baked sugar cookies.

“Mommy will be home soon,” Daddy said, taking a last batch of cookies from the oven. “I think that that’s all we can do for today.”

“There’s just one more thing,” Justin said as he climbed down from the stool and headed for his bedroom. “I’m going to make a Christmas card for her.”

In a few minutes he came back with a pencil and his card. “How do you spell Alison?” he asked.

Daddy spelled slowly while Justin wrote very carefully.

When Mommy came home, she stopped in the doorway and breathed deeply. “What a wonderful smell!” she exclaimed. Then she stared at the lights twinkling on the tree. Daddy took her packages and Alison, and Justin handed her the card. She read:

“To Mom,

Does it feel like Christmas now?

We love you.

Justin, Daddy, and Alison.”

Mommy hugged Justin close. Her eyes sparkled like the lights on the tree. “Yes, Justin, it does. It feels like the best Christmas ever!”

[illustration] Illustrated by Elise Niven Black