Our daughter was snoring away-no doubt dreaming of what kind of “loot” she’d get from the miniscule sheep worrying troll that night. A precocious fourth-grader, she made sure to remind us at dinner of what a good girl she had been all year. Surely, she solemnly told us, Stekkjarstaur would be able to fit a puppy in her sneaker.
Luckily, she remained oblivious as my wife slipped a sweet into her shoe without a sound. The girl would have to be satisfied with a pack of Twizzlers this year, as the puppy would have to wait for another time. Like when she got married.
One child down, I marveled at how easy this whole Yule Lad thing was. It was certainly a lot easier than trying to assemble a bicycle after midnight on Christmas morning. Or trying to convince skeptical children that a jolly fat man silently slid the whole shebang down the chimney without creating a racket which would wake up dead people. Or swearing that those were really Christmas carols they heard coming from the living room, not curse words.
So, I confidently told my wife that she could relax and go watch her DVD of “CSI: Miami.” I would play the part of the Sheep Worrier and slip a “Family Size” Snickers (that’s one big family) into our son’s shoe.
The spartan apartment in which we lived wasn’t like your typical one back in the States. Our bedrooms were so small, I hardly had enough room to change my mind, let alone walk freely around my son’s bed. That being the case, I had to lean carefully on his sheets and stretch my full length just to reach the windowsill.
And that ain’t easy when you have to shop for your pants in the Boys Department.
Even though my backbone began to pop like a set of maracas and the muscles in my arm began to rip away from my shoulder like I was on a medieval rack, I smiled when my fingertips brushed up against his shoe. As the candy began to tumble inside, I heard a small whisper from out of the darkness, “That’s okay, Dad. You can turn on the light if you can’t see.”
Busted, I quickly dropped the Snickers into his shoe and beat a hasty retreat without a word.
The next morning at breakfast, after grumbling sourly that there was no milk for my cereal, I asked my eleven year old about the night before.
“Oh, that,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, “I’m too old for that baby stuff anymore. I’ll tell you what, just save yourself the trouble and give me my present before I go to bed.”
Mildly depressed that my little boy was growing up, I said nothing as he headed off to school.
Before he walked through the door, he called over his shoulder, “Oh, hey, I left something for you and Mom on your nightstand. See you this afternoon.”
Shaking off my gloominess, I shuffled into my dollhouse bedroom. I spied a piece of paper lying next to the alarm clock. It was my son’s Christmas letter.
Starting off with “Dear Santa,” it went on to list, by color, size, and memory storage, everything he wanted to see under the tree come Christmas morning. Thankfully, at least, there was no mention of a puppy.
At the bottom, he closed with, “Oh, yeah, just in case, Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.”
Or, as they say in Iceland, “Gleδileg Jól.”