I meandered up the basement stairs and slipped through the door leading to the kitchen. Mom’s cooking permeated the room: apple crisp and baked Amish bread wafted beneath my nose, filling my senses. Daddy was at the table reading the paper over coffee and Mom was busy over the stove. Christmas tunes hung loosely in the air and added to the quiet scene. I tiptoed across the tile in my fuzzy little slippers, wearing Daddy’s flannel shirt that draped to my knees, and came up behind mom.
“Whatcha making?” I asked, stretching to see over the counter.
“Breads and pies and such for the neighbor’s,” she replied, smiling down at me.
“Can I help?”
“Sure you can, honey. Have your daddy help you bring over a chair.”
I scurried to the table, pigtails bouncing against my shoulders, and paused before brushing my fingers against Daddy’s shoulder. “Daddy?”
“Can you help me bring over a chair so I can help Mommy cook?”
“Sure.” He finished the sentence he was reading and then hoisted up a chair and brought it over next to my mom. He picked me up beneath my arms and helped me balance. Then he swooped in and gave Mom a kiss on the cheek.
“Ewwww.” I skirmished, scrunching up my porcelain nose. Mommy laughed and Daddy bent down and brushed his nose against my cheek, his whiskers tickling my chin.
“You be a big help to your Mom now.”
“I will!” I bounced on my toes and reached for a spoon. “What do I do, Mom?”
“Well, how about you stir the batter, sweetie. Here.” She handed me a small bowl filled with caramel brown smudge that stuck to the walls of the container, but smelled awful good. I stirred proudly, feeling like a grown up.
Suddenly, my little brother came bounding down the stairs. “Dad! Dad!” he shouted. Both my parents turned towards his squealing.
“What is it, Jamie?” Dad said, folding his newspaper.
“There’s only three days until Santa comes!”
My dad laughed. “That’s right, little man. Three more days.”
“Three more days,” mom whispered. “It’s creeping up so fast! And still have so much baking to do for the Christmas Eve gathering.”
Jamie skittered over towards the fireplace, the flames snapping as they rose. He gazed up at the mantle. “Daddy?”
“This is wrong.”
“The snowman. It says we have four days left until Christmas. That was yesterday. We have to change it.” Jamie was referring to the little snowman whose peg arms held a string of numbers indicating how many days were left until the anticipated holiday arrived.
I jumped from the chair and ran over to stand beside Jamie, leaving the batter on the counter. “I wanna change it!”
“I was here first,” Jamie retorted in typical sibling banter.
“Now, now,” Mom said following close behind me. “How about we change it together?” Daddy came up behind her and scooped Jamie and I up in his arms, one on each hip.
“There’s two numbers,” he said. “The first one needs to be a zero and the second one a three. How about you each change one.”
I fingered the basket of numbers and rummaged for a three and Jamie sought diligently for a zero. “Got it!” I squealed waving the three in my hand. Jamie soon found his zero and we both posed above the stockings on the mantle to hang our numbers. I slipped the three on the peg and Jamie fumbled with the zero before making it hang just right.
“There,” dad said. “Three days until Christmas, guys.”
“Yay!” Jamie and I hollered simultaneously. Daddy dropped us to our feet and I scurried back to my chair, Jamie tumbling close behind me.
“I wanna help too,” Jamie whined. Mom handed him a spoon and we stirred together. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer began to play in the background, Jamie’s favorite Christmas tune. Daddy started singing and in a moment we were all dancing and singing amidst the baked breads and sugar cookies.
“Rudolf the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows,”
“Like a light bulb!” Jamie hollered.
Mommy laughed. Daddy twirled Jamie around. And I kept stirring. Three days until Christmas. Just three whole days.
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