Chapter 2 Christmas Vacation
The first day of Christmas vacation began with wild winds howling around the houses and snow piling up high enough to cover the windows. “Is the snow going to stop Christmas from coming?” Blossom asked worriedly, trying to peek between the tall drifts over the windows and the snow flying sideways across them.
“No, nothing can ever completely stop Christmas, can it Mom?” Sunflower tried to assure her little sister, but she wasn’t sure herself especially this year and not just because of the snowstorm.
“You’re right,” their mother said cheerfully, “Christmas will come no matter how much it snows or blows, but there will be some people who will have to change their plans.” she smiled at Sunflower and Blossom. Sunflower smiled back but she was still worried.
“Will we?” Blossom turned to look at her mother and sister. Mrs. Mahogany sat down on the couch next to Sunflower. She handed her a needle with a long thread on it.
“Yes, one of the main changes this year is that we’re going to make our own decorations. Don’t you think that will be fun?” she asked, showing Sunflower how to string white popcorn and brightly colored beads on the long string. “And, there will be a few other changes because of the snow storm.” Mrs. Mahogany said pushing s piece of popcorn onto her string.
“What kind of changes?” Pine asked wandering into the room carrying a book he had been trying to read in his room. “What are you doing?” he picked up the string of popcorn and beads Sunflower was working on. “Hey, these are super cool.”
“Well, first of all I decided to really make this a homemade Christmas. So we’re stringing popcorn like they used to do a long time ago.”
“We’re going to put them on the tree and on the walls if we get enough long strings done.” Sunflower broke in beginning to feel a little bit excited about the new changes. Stringing popcorn was fun. Maybe giving up all her presents wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Can I do that also or is it just for girls?” Pine asked thinking it looked more fun than reading.
“Me too!” Blossom echoed moving away from the snowy window.
“I’ll get you both a needle and some string, but Blossom you have to sit next to Pine and be very careful because the needle is sharp.”
“I’ll be careful.” Blossom promised their mother as she threaded two more needles and handing one to each of them. Pine watched Sunflower show Blossom how to slowly push the kernel of popped corn onto her needle and down onto the string.
“Here!” Sunflower said moving two large bowls so they could all reach them. “We have lots of beads and you can put them on any way you want. I put four pieces of popcorn on and then a colored bead.”
Pine studied the string she held out towards them. “I think I’ll do two popcorns and then a bead.” he said slowly starting to string the popcorn. “This is harder than it looks.” he said a few minutes later eating the fifth piece of popcorn that broke while he was pushing it onto his needle.
“It is in the beginning but it gets easier, just look for the fattest part of the popcorn and put your needle through that part.” Sunflower told him her fingers moving quickly as she reached from one bowl to the other. Pine managed to finally get his second piece of popcorn on his string as Sunflower pushed another long finished section onto the floor in front of her. Blossom ignored them both, she was having more fun eating the popcorn than stringing it.
“If Blossom keeps eating it we won’t have enough to decorate anything.” Pine laughed.
“I’m not effen it.” Blossom said with her mouth stuffed full of popcorn.
“That’s okay I can make more if you run out.” their mother smiled as she watched the kids work.
“Oh, Mom!” Pine suddenly looked up from the red bead he was stringing. “You said there were going to be some changes this year, what are they? Are they good changes or bad?” He asked worriedly. Sunflower stopped stringing long enough to look up also. Blossom looked at their mother but kept eating popcorn.
“The changes aren’t bad.” she smiled at them. “The first change is we’re having Christmas here this year. Grandma called earlier and said it would be easier for them to come here instead of all of us traveling to their house.
Second, your cousins will be coming here in a few hours and will be staying here until Christmas.”
“Yippee! Yeah!” Sunflower and Pine squealed while Blossom clapped her hands excitedly.
“Can they help us string the popcorn?” Sunflower asked.
“Certainly, and then we can all decorate the house together.”
They had three long strings and one very short one done by lunchtime when Oak, Rose and Bud arrived in a cold flurry of wind and snow that blew them in the door. “It’s really cold!” Rose shivered pulling off layers of mittens, boots, coat, snow pants and hat. She helped Bud peel off his layers while Pine and Oak grabbed all the backpacks and bags and ran to drop them in the bedrooms. The three girls would all be sleeping in Sunflower’s room while the guys camped out in Pine’s room.
“This is really going to be fun.” Oak said heading back to the kitchen and the steaming bowls of homemade vegetable soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. “This is really delicious Aunt Violet.” he said later holding out his empty bowl for more soup.
While they were eating, Sunflower told them about making the popcorn strings. “I can make chains, we did it at school.” Bud announced eating a second toasted cheese sandwich. “But someone has to cut the paper. I can tape them like we did at school.”
“I forgot about paper chains.” Rose exclaimed. “Those were always so much fun but the popcorn chains sound like a lot of fun too.”
“I’ll cut the paper for Bud, I’ve strung enough popcorn.” Pine announced. “We have lots of colored paper in our craft cupboard. We can use it, can’t we?” he asked piling his empty dishes in the sink.
“Yes, you can.” his mother said gathering up Blossom and Bud’s dishes. The older ones carried their own dishes over to the sink.
“Can I make a paper chain?” Blossom asked as they headed back into the living room. She picked up her short string of popcorn, tilted her head to look at it sideways. “I think the paper chain will be much more fun.”
“I think you’re right.” Pine agreed. “I’ll cut lots of paper strips for both of you so you can make really long paper chains.” he handed each of them a small tape dispenser that popped up little pieces of tape so they didn’t have to pull on it or try to rip it off. “Mom said you could use these. They’re real easy to get the tape off of.”
“I’ll help cut.” Oak said after watching Sunflower string a few popcorns. When Pine came back he dumped a huge load of colored paper on a small table. They sat on the floor and started sorting through the colors while Blossom and Bud waited impatiently.
“I’ll finish Blossom’s popcorn string.” Rose said rescuing the short string from the floor where Blossom had dropped it. Sitting down next to Sunflower the two girls were soon busy stringing popcorn and beads and giggling together.
“You can add to mine also, if you want to. I left it up there on that table.” Pine said starting to measure and cut the colored paper into strips. For a long time the only sound in the house was the wind whistling outside and the snip and click of scissors and the tiny hissing sound of the popcorn and beads sliding down the strings.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.” Pine started singing softly as he cut the strips of paper, soon Blossom and Bud joined in singing as loudly as they could while they made the bright strips into little circles and taped them into two long colorful chains.
The rest joined in and soon they were singing all the Christmas songs they could think of. When they couldn’t think of any new ones they sang the same ones over again. Unnoticed Mrs. Mahogany entered the room carrying a tray of hot chocolate and warm gingerbread cookies just as they were starting all over for the third time. “I thought you might need a break.” she said stepping carefully across the floor. The entire living room floor was layered in long strings of popcorn and beads and colorful paper chains. She set the tray down and handed out the warm mugs of chocolate. Handing a mug to Pine she noticed a stack of paper stars and snowflakes on the floor next to Oak. “The stars and snowflakes are wonderful. So are the paper and popcorn chains.” she said handing them all a cookie.
“We thought that maybe we could hang the stars and snowflakes off the paper chains.” Oak explained holding up a tiny snowflake and a large star. There were snowflakes and stars of every size piled around them.
“Pine, I think there are still some bottles of glitter left. If you and Oak are careful you can glue some glitter to them so they sparkle and then we can hang the paper chains across the ceiling with the sparkly stars and snowflakes dangling down from it.”
“Wow! That would be perfect!” Oak said gathering up all the stars and snowflakes.
“Super cool!” Pine said jumping up.
“You can use the glue on the kitchen table.” Mrs. Mahogany called after the two older boys as they ran from the room.
“What about us? Who will cut our chain paper for us?” Blossom called taping another strip to her chin. Pine turned at the door to look back at Blossom.
“We’ve got a whole pile already cut for you. We’ll probably be done with the glitter before you two use all those up.” Pine laughed pointing at all the strips they had cut before deciding to cut out the stars and snowflakes from the colored paper.
“When can we hang these up?” Bud wanted to know as he finished taping a blue strip onto his chain.
“It’s almost supper time so as soon as you finish up here, we’ll pick all these up so they don’t get stepped on and crushed. After supper you can watch a couple of Christmas videos then it’s off to bed. Tomorrow we’ll have a decorating party and hang up all your beautiful chains.”
“Okay!” Sunflower, Rose, Blossom and Bud agreed hurrying to make the chains they were working on as long as they could before supper.
“Supper’s ready.” Mrs. Mahogany called an hour or so later. They quickly picked everything up before hurrying to the dining room table. The kitchen table was still covered in colorful glittery stars and snowflakes.
“I’m starved!” Pine said sliding into his chair.
“You’re always starved.” Sunflower giggled.
“I do have another thing to tell you about Christmas.” Mrs. Mahogany said once they all had their plates full and had started eating. “Grandma and Grandpa have a new game for all of us to play on Christmas Eve, but they want everyone to make some kind of homemade ornaments for the prizes. Would you like to use some of your chains for some of the prizes?”
“Yeah, that would be great.” they all agreed between bites.
After supper they were all helping to clear off the table when Pine walked over to his mother and asked. “Would it be okay if I . . . or we made some other ornaments besides the chains?” he asked when Oak and Bud joined him.
“You can make whatever you want. Do you have an idea?” Pine nodded eagerly. “Do you need anything special.” she asked.
“Well, the glitter we were using earlier but the rest I can find. I’ll get Oak and Bud to help with them. Can we do them in my room so the girls don’t see them?”
“Sure, you can.” Mrs. Mahogany agreed.
“And can we go outside just for a few minutes?” Pine asked hesitantly. “It’s not as windy as it was earlier. We’ll be very careful and we don’t have to go very far or stay out very long.” he promised.
“Have Dad go out with you.” she said. Pine put on his coat and then helped Bud into his jacket. Oak pulled his jacket on and ran off to find his Uncle, he was really eager to hear what Pine had in mind.
The three girls watched the boys run outside followed by Mr. Mahogany.
“If the boys are going to make something all by themselves, can we too?” Sunflower asked. Rose and Blossom nodded in agreement.
“Go ahead! Do you know what you want to make?”
“Not really.” Sunflower admitted slowly glancing over at Blossom and Rose. They both shook their heads no.
“Well, let me finish the dishes then I’ll show you a few things that I think you can easily make.” Mrs. Mahogany said smiling as the girls ran to grab dish cloths.
“We’ll help with the dishes.” the girls said eagerly. In no time at all the dishes were washed, dried and put away. The girls followed Mrs. Mahogany to Sunflower’s room. Mrs. Mahogany handed them each a stack of her craft books to look through. After carefully searching through all the pattern books they finally agreed on what to make. Mrs. Mahogany quickly taught them how to make cute little animal ornament using scraps of felt, pom poms and glue.
Meanwhile the boys finished their journey outside and had gathered up everything they needed. After they came inside Mr. Mahogany helped them dry their items, when everything was ready they ran to Pine’s room and were soon busily gluing and glittering. “These are going to be so great.” Oak said sprinkling silver glitter over the glue Bud had tried to spread evenly over the entire thing. “What do we do with them when the glitter and glue is dry?”
“Well the ones my teacher had hanging in our classroom smelled like cookies and had strings tied to them so they could be hung on the tree. We can ask Mom how to make them smell like cookies and we can get some string from her too.” Pine said looking up from the gold glitter he was sprinkling.
Later just before bedtime when Mrs. Mahogany checked in on the boys they had glittered ornaments on every piece of furniture in the room except the beds. “The ones in school smelled like cookies, how did my teacher do that?” Pine asked once she had closed the door behind her.
“Like cookies? What kind of cookies?” she asked. She carefully picked up one of their ornaments. “These are really beautiful. You boys did a wonderful job on these.”
“Thanks.” Pine said watching her. “I don’t know,” he answered her. “I guess I just thought of cookies when I walked into the class room.” Pine admitted.
“I’ll be right back.” Mrs. Mahogany said turning to leave.
“We need some kind of string to hang them with also, Aunt Violet.” Oak said quickly.
When she returned she handed Pine a small bag of round sticks. “Super cool! This is what they smelled like!” he shouted jumping to his feet and pushing the little bag under Oak’s nose, Bud jumped up to smell it also. “How did you know?”
“A lot of people use cinnamon sticks on Christmas ornaments to make them smell good. I had gotten these a while back but I don’t need them now so you can glue them on your ornaments. I don’t know if there’s enough but at least some of your ornaments will smell great.”
“As soon as you get those cinnamon sticks glued on I want all of you in bed. You can read for a while but we have a busy day tomorrow so you’ll need your sleep.”
“We will!” They all promised. “Good night!” they called out as she left.
Mrs. Mahogany walked down the hall to Sunflower’s room. “Girls! Finish up what you’re working on and then go to bed. You can read for a little while but you need to get to sleep because we have a lot to do tomorrow. You can finish your ornaments tomorrow afternoon. We should be finished hanging the chains and then you three can come back in here and finish these.” She looked around at all the little cut out animal shapes they had finished. “Do you remember how to finish these or will you need to be shown again tomorrow?” she asked helping Rose and Blossom gather up all the little pieces they had ready to put together.
“We might need some help.” Sunflower said handing the last piece to Rose to put on her dresser with the rest.
“As soon as we get the chains up we can get these finished. It won’t take long to glue and sew them together, you have the hardest part finished. It always takes longer to cut everything out.” She smiled watching the three girls climb into their sleeping bags.
“Thanks! Good night!” they yawned as Mrs. Mahogany shut off the light.
coming next week; chapter 3 Hanging Chains