I closed the bedroom door behind me and leaned against it. “Gennie just told me the weirdest thing ever.”
Noah pressed both palms to his eyes. “That’s a really high bar. Are you sure it was the weirdest ever? Not just one another in a compendium of weird things out of that child’s mouth?”
I shook my head. “No, this was legitimately bizarre.” When he only sighed in response, I continued. “I asked her if she wanted to write a letter to Santa and she told me that Santa is a representative of ‘all that capitalist bullshit.’ And no, she doesn’t want to write a letter to—as she put it—some dude who thinks he’s allowed to decide if she’s been good or bad.”
Noah tipped his head back and blinked up at the ceiling. “She sounds exactly like my sister when she says things like that.”
“Is that the origin?” I sat cross-legged on the bed beside him. “Eva wasn’t in to the whole Santa and Christmas thing?”
Noah belted out a laugh. “She was not.”
“Okay,” I said slowly. “So, what does that mean in practical terms? What did you do with Gennie last Christmas?”
“I fumbled the play,” he said with another sharp laugh.
“What? What does that mean?”
“It means I asked Gen about what she wanted to do for Christmas and she gave me the same line about capitalist bullshit though she tossed in something about Santa needing to respect privacy because no one should be watching her while she sleeps.”
“Can’t argue with that,” I said.
“I know,” he agreed. “I was the idiot who went along with that and thought it meant the matter was settled.”
I pressed my fingers to my lips. “Oh, Noah. Tell me you didn’t.”
“I interpreted that to mean she was anti-Santa and she didn’t want any Christmas morning surprises, and since everything was so tough for her at that point, I didn’t want to make it worse.” He kneaded his brow. “It was a disaster. She shut down completely. She was angry for—hell, I’m not even when she stopped being angry about it. If she stopped being angry,” he added.
I nodded to myself for a moment. “How are we going to fix it?” Noah peeled back the blankets on my side of the bed and motioned for me to join him. “I’m going to stay right here. I want to solve this before you start being distracting.”
“I’m the distracting one here? Really?”
“Yes,” I said, folding my arms on my legs.
“How do you figure?”
I gestured to the henley shirt he’d started wearing to bed when the nights were particularly cold. I couldn’t explain why that shirt was sufficient grounds to maul my husband and lose hours of precious school-night-sleep but it did the damn trick. “There’s that.”
He glanced down. “There’s what?”
“The…” He pinched the fabric, frowning down at it. “What?”
“The shirt,” I said, sharpening the corners of each word to fine points. “It’s the guy equivalent of skimpy lingerie.”
He went on staring at the shirt. “But the point of lingerie is to be sexy. It’s to be taken off. The point of this is to be put on and kept on to deal with New England winters.”
I threw my arms out of wide. “And I happen to find that ridiculously sexy on you. Okay? Can we get back to fixing our Christmas problems?”
He flattened his hand on his chest. “Have you always liked—“
“I love you and I will stroke your ego later,” I interrupted. “We are not letting another season go by with this kid thinking she wasn’t good enough or she was forgotten.”
“She’s not going to think she was forgotten,” he said. “I learned that lesson the hard way and I don’t care to repeat it.” He clamped a hand high on my leg. “What’s the plan, wife?” When his fingers grazed the inside of my thigh, he added, “Or would you rather talk about this tomorrow when Gennie’s out feeding the goats?”
I pushed his hand away and climbed into his lap. “We let her run with the capitalist bullshit storyline but cheese the whole thing up and blame it on me. I like all the capitalist traditions and I like it silly times a thousand. She’ll indulge me, especially if you two can get in on rolling your eyes about how much I love the whole thing. Get her a wacky stocking to hang from the fireplace, a kitschy mug and saucer for the milk and cookies—and we totally make her believe that you’re the one eating the cookies. And then we blow her mind with something special from Santa on Christmas morning.”
“Perfect,” Noah said, yanking my shirt over my head. “Perfect plan. Do you know how much I love your plans? Because I love your plans. Anything else I need to know or can we—“ He motioned at us, half-dressed and fully pawing at each other— “make some plans of our own?”
If you haven't read In a Jam yet, you can grab it here: https://amzn.to/3BVPjYH
Narrators Jason Clarke and Kit Swann are working on the audio and it will arrive in early 2023
We always have something to talk about. Usually involves shenanigans.