CHAPTER 3 HANGING CHAINS
The next morning they woke early to find the blizzard still blowing outside their windows. Wind blew the falling snow sideways past the windows when they jumped out of bed and dressed quickly.
Rose followed the others as they rushed down for breakfast, pausing at the window she watched the snow flying wildly past. She walked slowly down the stairs after the others her eyes darting from window to window. Entering the kitchen Rose stood quietly ignoring the rest laughing and chattering about decorating the house for Christmas.
“Come on Rose, as soon as we’re done eating we can start hanging our popcorn chains.” Sunflower called pouring milk over her cereal. Oak and Pine were already at the table eating quickly before someone yelled at them to slow down. Mrs. Mahogany helped Bud clear a space among the glittery stars for his bowl.
“Can I have some toast with jelly on it?” Blossom asked pushing the dried snowflakes into a neat pile in the middle of the table.
“Yes you can. What would you like for breakfast, Rose?” Mrs. Mahogany asked putting some bread into the toaster. Blossom reached into a cupboard and took out a jar of grape jelly setting it on counter next to the toaster.
Rose tried to wipe away a tear before the others noticed. “Aunt Violet?” she said in a quivery voice. Everyone turned to look at her.
“Are you okay, Sweetie?” Mrs. Mahogany asked hurrying over to Rose. “Don’t you feel well?” she asked placing her hand on Rose’s forehead. “You don’t feel warm.” she said sounding concerned.
“I’m okay.” Rose said trying to sound cheerful. She didn’t fool anyone.
“What’s wrong?” Sunflower asked rushing over to Rose.
“The storm is so much worse today.” Rose whispered tears running down her cheeks.
“We’re all safe here.” Oak said looking puzzled as he watched his sister.
“But Grandma and Grandpa aren’t here and they won’t be able to come for Christmas Eve! It’s only a few days away and the snow is getting deeper and deeper.” Rose cried miserably.
“Oh, Sweetie!” Mrs. Mahogany said hugging the little girl tightly. “A snow storm, even a bad one won’t keep Grandma and Grandpa from coming. Besides,” she wiped away Rose’s tears and smiled at her. “The radio said this storm is supposed to end tomorrow and then Grandma and Grandpa will be here in plenty of time for Christmas Eve.”
“Really!” Rose whispered. “They’ll really be here?”
“Yes, they’ll be here and we will have a very wonderful fantastic Christmas.” Mrs. Mahogany promised. “But only if you eat your breakfast and we get all your lovely chains hung up.”
“I’ll have some cereal, please.” Rose said taking a bowl down from the cupboard.
While Mrs. Mahogany washed up the breakfast dishes the six children gathered up all the chains they had made. “How are we going to hang these up?” Pine asked helping Bud and Blossom carry the long paper chain into the living room.
“Oak, Pine, there are two ladders in the back storage room, could you run and get them, please.”
“Sure, Aunt Violet.” Oak said.
“Okay, Mom.” Pine echoed. They ran to get the ladders as Mrs. Mahogany helped the rest spread the paper chains across the floor.
“Will they reach from corner to corner?” Mrs. Mahogany asked. Sunflower and Bud took one chain and Blossom and Rose took the other one, they ran to opposite corners of the room. Blossom jumped up and down excitedly once they had the chains stretched from corner to corner. “That’s fantastic!” Mrs. Mahogany said just as Oak and Pine returned with the ladders. “Put them in opposite corners.” Mrs. Mahogany directed.
Pine and Oak dragged the ladders to the corners, climbed up and stood facing each other. “Now what?” Pine asked.
“Sunflower, hand your end of the chain to Pine. Bud give your end to Oak. I have some tacks here. Just tack the ends up in the corner.” she said handing each of the boys a tack. “That’s right.” The colorful paper chain swung slowly back and forth between them. It hung down halfway to the floor.
“They’re too long.” Oak groaned looking at the long chain sagging almost to the ground between them.
“They won’t be when we’re done.” Mrs. Mahogany promised. “Now move your ladders to the other two corners and do the same with the last chain.” When they had the last chain tacked up they all looked expectantly at Mrs. Mahogany to see what was next. “Okay, Pine, move your ladder to the middle of the room where the two chains meet.”
When he had his ladder in place she handed him both chains. “Tack them to the ceiling like this.” she handed both chains to him, one on top of the other. “You’ll have to squish the ring that will be closest to the ceiling so the tack goes through both rings.”
“Wow!” everyone sighed when Pine finished tacking up the middle of the chains. “It’s beautiful.” Rose whispered.
“Super cool!” Pine shouted jumping down off his ladder.
“Okay, girls now it’s your turn. Grab the tall stools and you can tack your popcorn strings around the walls. Tack up an end than let it drape down and then put in another tack at the same height as your first tack. Go all the way around the room so you have sort of a wave pattern all the way around.”
Turning to the two youngest ones she said. “Bud, Blossom, run into the kitchen and get the stars and snowflakes.” When they came back with their arms full, Mrs. Mahogany helped them put strings through one point of each star and snowflake. “here are some paper clips. If you hang the strings from the paper clips you can easily clip them to a ring on the paper chain. Bud, you hand some up to Pine and Blossom you give some to Oak.”
“Where should we put them?” Oak asked dragging his ladder out of the corner.
“You can put them wherever you want. They’re your decorations so it’s up to you.” Mrs. Mahogany said going to help the girl’s line up their popcorn waves so they were almost level all the way around the room.
When the girls had everything figured out Mrs. Mahogany went out to make them lunch. Walking past Oak and Pine she smiled to herself listening as they discussed where to hang all the sparkly stars and snowflakes. Returning a bit later she stood looking at what they had done to the room. “Grandma and Grandpa are going to be so surprised when they see what you’ve made. This room looks so fantastic.” she said handing each of them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cup of cocoa. While they ate they couldn’t stop looking up at the snowflakes and stars twisting and turning above them. The ceiling sparkled just like the sky outside.
“The popcorn chains look super cool on the walls.” Pine complimented the girls, he couldn’t stop admiring the room.
“Thanks.” Rose and Sunflower said looking at their walls proudly.
“Can we finish our ornaments now?” Sunflower asked after they had finished eating.
“Yes, that would be a good idea because I have another project for you to do as soon as you are done with them.” Mrs. Mahogany said with a mischievous laugh.
“What kind of a project?” they all wanted to know.
“I’ll explain it when your ornaments for the game are all finished.” she answered and wouldn’t tell them any more even though they continued to ask questions. “While you are finishing your ornaments I’m going to wrap the pictures on the walls so they look like presents. Then when your Dad gets home we’ll set up the Christmas tree.” she explained following the girl’s to Sunflower’s room. She showed them how to finish their ornaments then left to finish the living room so everything would be ready when Mr. Mahogany brought home the tree.
“I wonder what Mom wants us to do next.” Sunflower wondered sitting on the floor in her room and sewing the ornaments. “I really like making these. They’re fun!”
“Me, too!” Rose said finishing a small star to glue into the paws of a felt mouse. Blossom carefully glued a string to it for a tail and set it beside her to dry.
“I used to always watch Mom making craft things but I always thought it was too hard for me so I never tried it before. These aren’t hard they’re just fun.” Sunflower grinned looking at all the little animal ornaments they had made.
In the boy’s room the same questions about the next project went unanswered as they finished gluing and tying strings to their sparkly ornaments. “I wonder what Grandma and Grandpa want us to do with these when they’re done.” Oak asked looking over at Pine.
“I don’t know, we’ll have to ask Mom.” he answered.
“Let’s go ask her now, we’re finished with all of these.”
“Hey, Mom!” Pine called as they ran into the living room. Mr. Mahogany was just finishing setting up a large tree. “Wow! Everything looks super cool!” Pine skidded to a stop staring at the brightly decorated room.
“It’ll look even better once we get the lights on the tree and all the ornaments on it.”
“I wish I had my ornaments. We won’t be home at all for Christmas. I won’t get to hang up my ornaments.” Bud said sadly staring at the large tree.
“You can pretend the stars Pine and I made are yours.” Oak suggested but he knew how his little brother flet, he felt just as sad. They always looked forward to hanging up their ornaments each year. It was like seeing them for the first time again each year.
“It’s not the same.” Bud pouted.
“No, it’s not the same.” Mr. Mahogany agreed. “Your sparkly ornaments are great but they’re not the one’s Grandma and Grandpa made especially for you.” He walked over and looked down at Bud. His eyes twinkled as he winked at him. “That’s why your Dad brought your boxes over this morning.”
“In the snowstorm?” Bud said wide eyed looking over at the window where the snow was still flying past sideways.
“Yes, in the snowstorm. Why don’t you boys bring all the boxes out. Oak, your box, Rose’s and Bud’s are in the closet next to Pine, Blossom and Sunflower’s boxes. By the time the girls finish up their ornaments we should have all the lights on the tree then you kids can hang up your special ornaments.”
“Yippee!” Bud shouted running down the hall towards the closet. Oak started to follow but stopped when Pine asked.
“Mom, what are we supposed to do with the ornaments for the game? Ours are almost all dry.”
“I have a bunch of little brown bags. Tomorrow you boys can put the ornaments in the bags, that way we can be sure that they are all dry. One ornament in each bag.”
“Do we put ours in bags also?” Rose asked entering the room with Sunflower and Blossom.
“Yes. Tomorrow you can bag all your ornaments. Today after you hang your ornaments I tell you about the other project I have for you to do.”
“Can I start the project now? I don’t have my ornaments here.” Rose asked quietly.
“Yes, you do!” Oak laughed. “We were just going to go get them. Dad brought our boxes over here this morning.” Rose looked at her Aunt and Uncle questioningly. They both nodded. “Come on, let’s get our boxes before Bud dumps everything out of the closet trying to get his box out. That’s what always happens at home.” Oak said running after Bud.
They returned dragging their large boxes just as Mr. Mahogany was putting an angel holding a star in each hand on the top of the tree. “Wal-la!” he said plugging in the lights.
“Oooohhhh!” “Aaaahhhhhh!” they all sighed.
“It’s the most beautifullest tree ever.” Blossom said.
“Go ahead and hang up all your ornaments.” Mrs. Mahogany told them as they stood staring in wonder at the tree.
“Can I hang my stars here?” Bud asked hanging all five stars in a cluster on the front of the tree.
“You should put them in different places all around the tree.” Oak said hanging his second ornament near the top of the tree.
Bud stepped back and looked at his five stars. “No! I like them right here.” he decided.
“That looks just great, Bud!” Mr. Mahogany said quickly ending any further comments the older kids might be tempted to say.
“I’m done, too!” Blossom announced hanging her last ornament. She had all five of her angels in a line right where she could look at them without bending down or looking up. The older kids scattered theirs all around the tree.
“Do you want help with the rest of the tree ornaments?” Sunflower asked her mother as she carried in the rest of the ornament boxes.
“No, unless you really want to help, but I do need to talk to you kids. Sunflower, Rose and Blossom come with me. When I’ve explained this project to the girls I’ll come get you boys. Okay?” the three boys nodded curiously as they watched the girls head into the kitchen.
Next weekend — Chapter 4 HOME MADE PROJECT