Part Nine

It is that time of year when my imp fills the house with greenery and mistletoe and warm cookies and other sweets. She whispers admonishments to the dogs that Santa is watching. That is true. I am Santa and I am watching.

We have wreaths on our front door that she made - one inside and one out - and there are green lights in the lamps at the foot of our driveway. The lamps are mounted on brick pedestals and there is a large red bow around each one. That is all we ever do on the outside of our house. In the backyard there are red bows around the bird feeders, more bows on the kennels and the railings of the deck have greenery wrapped around them. Inside, there is much more.

The imp and I will decorate the tree tomorrow. We have ornaments we have had since our first Christmas. Each year we have added a few more and now we either have to choose which ones to use or get a very large tree. Each ornament has its own story so I always get a very large tree. This year it is close to 9 feet tall and very wide and Sar has told me it is the most beautiful tree yet. I think she would say that even if it were a small specimen. I look at her as she admires the tree and it does not matter to me what it looks like. The only thing that matters is the look of joy on her face.

When we were about to celebrate our first Christmas I asked Sar if she wrote to Santa when she was a young girl. She said no. I told her she should do that. She laughed. But I insisted she write to Santa so he would have an idea of what she wanted. Now she writes to him regularly to let him know how good she has been all year. I know better but I believe she crosses her fingers when she writes this. She is usually very good on Christmas day and the few days that follow. After that, it's a duck shoot.

I told her that she needed to let Santa know what she wanted him to bring her and also if she left cream cheese brownies for him that he would like that a lot. A glass of Merlot would also be welcome. Every year she asks for ribbons for her hair, a taste of chocolate and little else. This year - when she gave me her letter to mail - it wasn't sealed. I like to help Santa out so naturally, I read it.

She told him how good she had been all year and what a splendid job she did of utilizing my credit cards so that when I paid the bills, my credit rating remained high. She told him that she bought a few surprises for friends and sent them anonymously because it's not necessary to take credit for everything--

*Just the sheer enjoyment of the act puts a huge smile on my face.*

Uh huh and when I figure out what she's done it might put a dark pink tint on that little butt of hers.

She asked him to remember our young friend Patrick who would like one of those gadgets youngsters put in their ears to listen to music all day and he wants an XBox as well. Ok, duly noted. Our friend David wants a new lawn mower. I do not understand this at all. David's house is beachfront. For the little bit of grass he has he can buy a goat. Unless-- he is thinking of clearing more of his land and putting in a lawn. If this means he thinks I'm going to help him do this I best let him know otherwise. That goat is looking better all the time. I think I know where Santa can get one.

Sar doesn't ask Santa for world peace or an end to hunger. But she asks for something almost as difficult to deliver.

*And if you could, Santa, it would be nice for Bull's mama to celebrate Christmas with her son. So if you could manage to bring him home, a lot of us would forego any other presents.*

Sar and Bull have a bond that goes beyond ordinary friendship. It is not something I have words to explain. In a few weeks it will be a year since the young marine was deployed. We have not heard any news from him since he left. Sar's fears about his safety are the same fears families everywhere have for their kinfolk who serve their country. When I was at sea and away from home for long periods we were able to stay in touch. We spoke several times a week and often, daily. We were still apart but were able to reconnect and that made the separation more tolerable. Not hearing from Bull has made my wife very uneasy. If it were in my power I would give her the moon and the stars. I, too, would be grateful to see Bull home again.

Sar is making fruitcake today. It is unlike any fruitcake I have ever eaten. She makes it with fresh fruit - apples, peaches, grapes, pears and fresh dates. There is bourbon in it and raspberries and a chocolate sauce are on top. Don't bother asking for the recipe. She will not share it, not even for her closest friends. It is one of her "stay home with your lover" desserts and let me just say that a slice or 2 of that sweet and my wife on my lap and I have all I want for Christmas.

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season and a more peaceful New Year.


~ End Part Nine ~

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