On Christmas Eve, after going to our granddaughter Avery’s 11th birthday party in St. Louis, I returned to our kitchen to get back to cooking. Spark hit the sack at 11 p.m. leaving me to happily make pies I hadn’t gotten to earlier in the day, chocolate, cherry and apple crumb, the grandkids’ favorites. Cooking for Christmas has never been drudgery —it’s a tradition I look forward to.

After gathering the recipes and ingredients, I switched on the TV in the kitchen to keep me company while I baked; smaltzy shows because saccharin-sweet seemed to fit the bill on Christmas Eve. Pies take a while, and by the time I’d finished them and cleaned up it was 2 a.m., but I didn’t mind, knowing most of the preparations were finished and I could sleep in the following morning — ho, ho, ho!

A Big Mistake

My relaxed state of mind lured me into complacency the next day when I was working on a poem to go along with some cash we were giving our daughter Jennifer. Just a week before Christmas she took back the dishes we bought for her new kitchen, so the matching bowls we purchased as a Christmas gift had to be returned.

Spark thought a funny poem would be a fitting accompaniment for the cash gift, so I started rhyming words and then headed for the laptop. With no one coming until 1 p.m., there was time aplenty. But minutes fly by when you’re writing. In what felt like an hour, Spark ducked his head into my office, “Do you know it’s 12:15?” he asked.

I shot out of my office chair like I’d sat on a whoopee cushion. Family was coming in 45 minutes — that five-stanza poem had taken me three hours.

“That’s the last time I suggest you write a poem,” Spark said; I was too rushed to usher a retort. Fortunately, the poem brought a smile to Jen’s face as she read it out loud, “Taj Mahal” rhyming with “mall,” and “Blitzen” rhyming with “kitchen.” Who says poetry has to be serious?

The poem may have gotten finished but the roast was delayed because I forgot to put it in the oven. Then there was the soup, which nearly burned on the bottom, and certainly would have been if Spark hadn’t stepped up to the plate. But the pies were golden brown and yummy, and we all had a great time together, with appreciative kids offering thanks as each gift was opened. That always means so much.

Joyous End to a Holiday

The day ended too soon, everyone preparing to leave all at once, in a flurry of activity, gathering presents, kids and jackets.

While I was passing out leftovers and giving goodbye hugs, Spark was rooting around in the kitchen for a toothpick, which are kept in a little yellow box with a bumblebee on the lid in the recesses of a corner cabinet. Retrieving it, Spark accidentally dropped the box and toothpicks scattered on the wood floor, along with a diamond ring — a solitaire he gave to me when he proposed, one that’s been lost for 15 years or more.

How that ring ended up with the toothpicks is a mystery, but anyone who knows me knows anything is possible when it comes to my “safe places,” spots where I put objects so I won’t lose them.

I wasn’t planning on Spark giving me a diamond ring for the holidays, much less a ring I was sure was lost for good and has such sentimental value. I’m going to ring in 2017 with a new, old ring on my finger and a resolution to limit my number of safe places. Spark isn’t holding out much hope for that.

Oh, ye of little faith!