Words Sharon Easton
Illustration Sierra Lundy
The day before Christmas Eve, I invited four-year-old Dylan, from up the street, over to bake Christmas cookies.
Cookie dough was made, rolling pin ready, a variety of Christmas cookie cutters set out, an assortment of trimmings to sprinkle, and a spick-and-span counter ready for action. My husband, Chuck, was in his workshop, planning a wood project for Dylan, as well.
As Dylan arrived, our two puppies, Hazel and Gracie, looked confused. Wasn’t Dylan a backyard friend? Why is he in the kitchen? They hovered.
I forgot what a four-year-old is like the day before Santa arrives. As I unwrapped the cookie dough, Dylan circled the living room, dining room and then back to the kitchen, chattering constantly. He touched everything. The puppies followed him.
Dylan saw the Santa candy dish. He grabbed the dish, turning it this way and that.
“Be careful,” I said quietly, not wanting to frighten him. “I bought that for my grandson when he was about your age! He’s 25 now.”
“I love it!” Dylan cried. Holding it tight, he ran for the stool at the counter and grabbed the sprinkles. “Can I put the sprinkles in the Santa bowl, pleeeease?”
I nodded at Dylan’s cute little face staring up at me. As quick as a wink, the boy had all the containers opened; he poured sprinkles into the bowl and mixed the concoction with his finger. Sprinkles fell to the floor, but the puppies didn’t rush in; they stood back, hovering and sniffing the air.
Dylan cut out a few cookies. I’d forgotten that little boys have almost no attention span, especially so close to Christmas. He spotted the basket of dog toys. Dylan jumped off the stool and ran for the basket.
“Here, Hazel! Here, Gracie! Play with me!”
Soft dog toys hurled past the puppies’ noses. They just sat there. The pups looked left as the toys flew by, and then turned their heads right, back to Dylan—again and again.
I cried out, “Dylan, no throwing toys at the dogs!”
He stopped and rushed back to the counter. Hazel, the larger of the two dogs, pushed herself between me and the counter, flat to the floor with her whole weight pressing on my feet. Gracie, the younger pup, rushed behind my legs. Both dogs peeked out and didn’t take their eyes off Dylan.
He pressed out a few more cookies. Talking so fast, he drooled a little, but it only fell on the counter and not on the cookies. Dylan jumped off the stool again and started to open kitchen cupboards and drawers, peeking in, looking around and moving on to the next. The dogs stared from their safe place—furry bodies on high alert.
“What’s Chuck doing?” Dylan asked.
“Go see,” I told him, as I slid the cookies into the oven.
Dylan sprinted away and then returned. The dogs squeezed into me tighter, one on each side, staring out at the boy. He held out a wooden race car that Chuck had made.
“Chuck’s making me wheels right now, but I want to paint it! Can I paint it?”
“You can, but Chuck has the paint. Go ask him.”
“I did—he told me he didn’t have any!”
“Liar!” I thought of my own husband. I put on a sad face. “I don’t have paint!”
“That’s okay,” he said, rushing to a kitchen cupboard, opening the door and grabbing a package of markers. “I’ll use these!”
Dylan quickly informed me that this was no longer a race car: it was Santa’s sled painted red, white and black.
On the move again, Dylan circled around the dining room. He discovered a pewter pig holding a bottle of wine.
“Why is the pig holding a bottle of wine with his legs?” he asked.
“Because it’s his job!”
“If the pig has the wine, what do you drink?”
“Why, water of course!”
As I leaned over the counter to check the cooling cookies, Dylan looked up and said, “Boy, you look bad!” Then—“Hey, are you a grandmother?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You lied to me,” Dylan cried. “You told me you were a mother, but you look like a grandmother!”
I laughed and, saved, I saw Chuck was ready with the wheels. With the job completed, Dylan proudly showed off his Santa sled with wheels.
Back to the cookies, I spread the icing and Dylan sprinkled his decorations. The sprinkles made a pinging sound as they hit the hardwood floor, but the dogs remained frozen at my side.
The cookies were beautiful. We were almost done. Chuck came in from the workshop and I went into the pantry, dogs at my heels. I was only gone for a minute—maybe less—but when I returned, Chuck was on his hands and knees behind the dining room table and Dylan was pacing back and forth.
“It was an accident,” he cried out.
“Humph,” said Chuck.
“What happened?” I walked around the table.
The large Christmas snow-globe mounted on an antique travel-trailer was shattered all over the floor, the water with glitter-snow spreading and pooling under the table. I saw the tag still taped to the broken trailer: “Christmas, 2017, To my husband, thanks for the wonderful RVing adventures. With all my love. xxx”
Dylan looked up with those beautiful eyes, arms out, palms extended. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to make it snow!”
“I yelled at him to put it down,” Chuck grumbled. Ahh—I got the picture.
I smiled. “I know, buddy. Let’s get these cookies packed, it’s time to go home.”
As I helped Dylan pack up his cookies, I noticed his hand was bleeding. Panicking, I rushed him to the sink and washed his hands. Luckily, it was a small cut. Chuck carefully wrapped an adult-sized bandage on Dylan’s tiny finger. Man and boy stared at each other and smiled.
While we got ready to leave, I asked Dylan what he’d tell his mother about the bandage.
“I’ll tell her, ‘I forget,’” he said, and I fought back a laugh.
Dylan carried two Christmas gifts. I had the plate of cookies and Chuck carried the homemade wooden sled in one hand, with the pups on a leash in the other. Dylan’s father greeted us at the door.
As Chuck and I walked away, I realized I had just needed to say, “No touching,” and Dylan wouldn’t have touched anything.
I heard a ping—it was a text from Dylan’s mother: “Thanks so much and the cookies are delicious.”
I smile and text back.
“It was our pleasure and we’ll do it again next year.”