Monday, December 19, 2011

Presents for Pigeon

Today was the Monday before Christmas and Pigeon's family wanted to have their own Christmas together in the evening. In a few days they would leave town and have other Christmases with family and friends who couldn't wait to see Pigeon. Mondays are always Father's day off, and he spent this one with Pigeon while Mother ran around working especially hard to get ready for their many celebrations.

Pigeon loves his father's deep, kind voice. You are a lucky boy, to have a Dad who speaks so gently to you, Mother said before she got up to begin another job. And Pigeon was. He always felt safe in Father's arms, and only cried there when something was wrong with his diapers, or his tummy felt growly from being too empty, or grumbly from being too full. Sometimes Pigeon squabbled when he was too tired to do anything else, but he was never afraid to fall asleep there. And so Mother was never afraid to leave Pigeon with his father, as some mothers would be. I am a lucky Mama, too, she thought.

When Mother returned from her trip into town, she started a special dinner. She rubbed a giant bird with butter and salt and pepper and slid it into the piping hot oven. Then she stirred cranberries into a pot of water and sugar on the stove top, and squeezed in the fresh juice of an orange and some long, curly strips of peel the color of a sunset. Mother hadn't turned away for more than a minute before the whole thing boiled over onto the burner, hissing and crackling and making them all suck in their breath and wait for the smoke. Mother saved the pot of ruby-red sauce, but not before the whole house smelled like a camp fire.

It wasn't the worst thing that could have happened, and Pigeon didn't mind the smell. Father gave him his milk while Mother cleaned up her mess. Then Pigeon had a delicious bath. He liked the warm water that Mother dribbled over his tummy and legs. It reminded him of a cozy, dark place he had been to once.

Once Pigeon was clean, he was slathered in powdery lotion and dressed. Mother finished wrapping presents and put them under the tree. Then she made a special tray of some of Father's favorite treats. There were slices of tart apple, giant wheat crackers, and a pastry filled with oozy, soft cheese laced with jam and nuts. Sparkling golden juice filled tall glasses that stood like crystal tulips on a giant wooden tray. Mother lit the candles on the mantle and Father put on a special, old Christmas movie. It was time to open presents.

Pigeon's hands were too small and curled inward to open his presents by himself. Mother and Father helped him tear the paper and slip off the ribbons. Inside were colorful wooden toys for stacking and spinning, a special ornament from one of his aunts, a memory book, and new things to wear. Last of all was a company of circus puppets, just large enough for Father's fingertips. I will have to learn stories to tell him with these, Father said. Mother thought he was supposed to make them up. Well, I can do that, Father said, and Mother knew he would.

Mother and Father had presents too, but the best present of all sat in Mother's lap between them. It was Pigeon's first Christmas, and he would most likely not remember it. But his parents would, because of how much they loved him, and how happy they were to be, at last, a family.

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