But today was Saturday and everyone was home, scurrying every which way to get things done. It was Christmas Eve and the boys knew that soon the ‘good smells’ would be filling the kitchen of the little house where they lived.
Daddy lugged the tree up from the basement earlier in the week, struggling and laughing as he stood the cardboard box in the corner of the living room. Surveying the remnants of box, they recognized the greenery and stray tinsel leftover from Christmas Eve’s past. Standing proudly in the same corner where it always stood, the brothers loved to watch the twinkling lights and shiny ornaments sparkle during the evening hours. They would lay on their backs on either end of the comfy couch, silent and content as Mommy hung the last of the candy canes, listening to the Christmas music playing softly on the radio.
Do you think we can sneak one? The older brother winked to the younger.
Do we dare? The young one whispered excitedly and they brushed against the tree gently to make one of them fall silently to the ground. Munching it quickly, they shared the sweet even though they knew it would never be missed, as there were many, many more throughout the tree.
Coming up from the basement with the last of the decoration boxes coupled in his arms, their father smiled to himself as he watched them lick their lips to get the last of the peppermint chips.
His face fell slightly as he spied the little box within a box, hidden knowingly so as not to remind them. The box that had once held an ornament he and his wife had purchased together, one of the few gifts they had gotten for each other for their first Christmas together. It was plain, a sparkly snowman that had hung from their tree for many years.
Suddenly it was gone, and they never knew what had happened to it. They looked everywhere, under the couch, underneath the chair cushions, and even outside near the car. They surmised it must have fallen from the Christmas tree during the hustle and bustle of opening presents, mistakenly thrown out among the wrapping paper. It was a sad reminder for several years that sometimes, bad things just happen.
“Better not let your mother see you do that” he whispered, and they nodded in agreement. Besides, it was time to get back to the window. They had an important job to do and didn’t want to mess it up.
I wonder what he’ll bring us? The younger one said to the older.
Who? He answered with mock innocence, knowing full well “who” his brother was talking about. He loved to tease him because it was so easy.
Who? His brother screamed, and then calmed himself. He didn’t want Mommy to know they were getting excited. They didn’t want to have to leave the window and not witness his arrival.
Who? He whispered now, almost to himself. You know who!
Yes, I know, I know! older brother answered, the enthusiasm of the younger contagious.
I can’t wait for Mommy and Daddy to see what we got them! he said suddenly, and his brother nodded excitedly in agreement.
They sat there all day, in front of the big bay window, and watched with hearts pounding, their eyes darting from corner to corner as the snow continued to come down, coating the cars and the tops of hats worn by those who passed by.
They were becoming sleepy, the afternoon sun fading and the room becoming dim, until the lights of the tree shone brighter and brighter. Their eyelids were getting heavy and long, dry yawns began to escape from their mouths. Try as they might, they were no longer able to keep their heads up, and laid on the carpeted floor in front of the window.
It will be ok, the older said to the younger as they snuggled up together, the warmth of each other’s bodies calming their quickly beating hearts.
Let’s just stay here until we hear him…the younger said as he drifted off to sleep.
Yeah, until we hear him…and soon they both were snoring lightly, a slow and rhythmic breathing that comes from the sleep of knowing you are loved.
Mommy and Daddy stood together, their arms wrapped around each other, smiling at the two brothers who lay contently on the floor.
“I wonder what dogs dream of?” Mommy said sweetly, kissing the side of Daddy’s cheek.
“I hope they dream of Santa Claus, just like everyone else” he said simply and kissed her back.
“Merry Christmas, boys” they whispered, and walked towards the staircase and upstairs to their bed.
They left the two sleeping dogs in front of the big bay window, who dreamt the dream of children, of wrapping paper, presents and St. Nicholas.
They slept close together, both of their furry paws protecting their gift for Mommy and Daddy, a gift of love and adoration for those they cherished.
A plain, white snowman ornament they had found in the dirt and hidden behind a lilac bush, just the day before.
© 2009 Eileen Loveman - 12/15/11