“I don’t like my job.” I said, glancing over at Mom and Little One as they sat across the table filled with an increasing number of cupcakes decorated like Santa. Little One continued to pick out M&Ms to use for eyes, but Mom glanced up from her initial step of frosting the cupcakes with a thin layer of pale pink.
“This one has blue eyes.” Little One decided and Mom was distracted from my complaint to nudge the chocolate candies in a more appropriate place between Santa’s beard and hat.
My job was to make the hats. I took the pink-frosted cupcakes Mom created and placed a squashed cherry candy on the top to approximate a red cap. But flattening the gummy treats was rather challenging, though I used fresh pieces of wax paper and a Pampered Chef tool to roll them sort of flat. But once they got past a certain thickness, the sugary coating gave way and the red candy stuck to the paper.
“I like my job.” Dad finally said, seated on my left. He was between me and Mom in his customary seat at the table and had a tube filled with frosting to make the white ball on Santa’s hat and the fluffy stuff to create a beard. He finished another beard with a flourish and moved the cupcake toward Mom and Little One for the final touches of a face.
“Don’t push it so far in the frosting, sweetheart.” Mom suggested when the tiny pink candy serving as Santa’s nose disappeared in the fluffy white moustache under a tiny finger with fingernails painted pink.
Little One appeared unconcerned and placed two brown M&Ms for eyes, then said she was done. I glanced up from trying to pry a red candy from wax paper and watched her scamper into the living room to play with her relocated dollhouse since the tree glittered in its former home.
She and Dad redecorated the old toy the day before. My grandpa made it - the three story wooden structure that looks a bit worse for wear after over 30 years of use by my cousins, then me. There are various colored wallpapers and most of the carpet is gone. The furniture was arranged somewhat haphazardly before, but now the toilet and sink are in the tiny bathroom in the corner of the second floor. There are two tables and a sofa in the large living space next to the red-carpeted stairs.
“It’s set up for Thanksgiving.” Dad said while he was busy with his granddaughter.
“So everyone can eat together.” Little One nodded. “The Care Bears and Papa Smurf and Stephanie and Kennedy and Brittany.”
I heard her talking softly to her toys as they moved about the house and I glanced up at Mom to smile across the table.
“I’ll switch with you.” She offered. “I’m falling behind anyway.”
We traded spots and Dad looked up from his latest beard, using the tip to push part of the white fluff more securely on the cupcake.
“You have a lot of jobs now.” He said and I nodded. Mom had been in charge of starting and finishing - providing pink cupcakes for my hats, then putting faces on after Dad finished with the white frosting. But she very competently began rolling out hats while I began creating faces.
“This one has green eyes.” I decided. “Because I found two green candies.” I replied when Mom asked me why. I was careful not to push the pink candy too deep and smiled at the result when I pushed the finished cupcake toward the center of the table. We finally finished and each began to clean up our respective stations.
I did take a walk yesterday - enjoying the cold air and crisp quiet of the familiar neighborhood. I also tried to nap away a headache that got progressively worse all day, keeping me up and praying for medicine to work most of the night. I think I feel better this morning, though I took Excedrin just in case. We’ll have Smallest One this afternoon while her family goes to a parade in the cold tonight.
“Brother’s Wife says she likes singing.” Mom told me the other night. I blinked at her, unbearably tired, and sighed before I started the fishie song. The singing did calm her, and I tried to remember what melodies we’d used with Little One as I continued to sing. There’s a certain continuity to it all - the arguments and dollhouse and Christmas treats Mom wants to replicate from magazines. The migraines Grandma also had and the songs Grandpa taught me.
“The animals are all inside.” Brother reported when he came to get Little One.
“It’s raining out.” I nodded of the description of the nativity scene he has set up at his house. It used to reside here and Brother and I would arrange the figures much to Mom’s dismay.
“Mary’s on the roof for some reason and the rest of the people are outside, watching the animals stay warm.”
Little One plays with Baby Jesus and His Friends just as Brother and I used to. So while it’s exhausting to be here sometimes - the noise and clutter and lack of productivity - it’s rather good to remember too.