Chapter 7 GRANDMA’S GAME
“Look!” they shouted pulling and tugging their grandparents and parents into the living room. Grinning widely they watched as everyone oohed and aahed over the decorations.
“Blossom and I did the paper chains on the ceiling all by ourselves. Pine and Oak just cut them for us and put them up there.” Bud shouted jumping up and down and pointing at the ceiling to make sure everyone saw the paper chains.
“I started one of the popcorn chains but Rose finished it.” Blossom explained dragging Grandma over to the wall. “Oak and Pine did the stars and snowflakes but we helped put them up.”
“It looks beautiful.” Grandma and Grandpa both said.
“You kids did a wonderful job making all these decorations.” Mrs. Browne said giving her three children a big hug. Mrs. Mahogany hugged her own three kids while Grandma and Grandpa walked slowly around the room so they wouldn’t miss anything.
“I haven’t seen popcorn strings or paper chains since I was Bud and Blossom’s age.” Grandma said wiping away a tear. “We always made them when I was little. Home made decorations are so much better than store-bought ones. I love decorations made out of love and time instead of money.”
“So do we!” Rose said giving Grandma a big hug. “We love the ornaments you and Grandpa make for us each year better than anything else!” They all nodded thinking back to the last day of school and their conversation with Rocky Tanner.
“We have a friend at school who was telling us about all the things he expected to get for Christmas. We were telling him about our ornaments but he just didn’t get it. He thinks Christmas is about lots of expensive presents but I bet he isn’t having as much fun as we are.” Oak said grinning at Pine.
“No way! He’s just waiting to get a big old TV, we had a super cool picnic in a horse-drawn sleigh!” Pine laughed hugging his grandparents. “Thanks for having Mr. Castle and Barnaby do that for us. It was super cool fun.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it. Barnaby loves to give sleigh rides, so does Mr. Castle.” Grandpa said hugging all of his grand-kids.
“Now, how about playing a game?” Grandma asked. Mr. Mahogany and Mr. Browne hurried over and lifted the loaded table and carried it out to the middle of the floor.
“How do we play it?” Bud asked concerned. Blossom and he often tried to play games with the older kids but always lost because they didn’t understand the rules.
“It’s very simple. I have a little wooden block. I painted pictures on it so all you have to do is look at it to know what to do.” she held it up so they could all see it clearly. “This is like a dice. It goes into this pan and we’ll pass it around, so I want everyone to sit in a circle.” They scrambled to pull chairs out for the adults while the kids all found places on the floor.
“When you toss the dice into the pan one of the pictures will come up. If you roll the package then you can grab one of the bags off the table. If you roll this one,” she held it up again and they saw a raccoon painted on one side of the dice. “I’ve always thought that raccoon’s look like little thieves with their little black masks so this raccoon means you can steal a package from anyone you want. And this Christmas tree means you have to give one of your packages away to someone.”
“Can we steal and give away our bags to anyone?” Sunflower asked as Grandma dropped the little handmade dice into the pan.
“Yes, you can give them to anyone you choose and steal from anyone you want.” Grandma said handing the pan and dice to Mr. Browne who was sitting next to her.
“I rolled an angel?” he said puzzled glancing over at Grandma. She laughed.
“I forgot to mention that there are other pictures but they don’t mean anything. I just needed to put something on the other sides.”
“I got the raccoon!” Bud said jumping to his feet.
“But no one has any packages so you can’t steal anything yet.” Pine laughed tossing the dice. “I got a package.” he reached out and grabbed one off of the top shelf.
“Can I steal it now?” Bud asked moving towards Pine.
“No,” Grandpa said grabbing Bud by the arm. “You have to wait until its your turn again. You can only steal when you have the dice. Once you’ve passed it on, your turn is over.”
“Okay.” Bud said reluctantly sitting down by Grandpa’s feet again. Bud watched as the dice made it around the circle and back to him. He rolled it. “I got the raccoon again!” he squealed jumping up and stealing Pine’s bag.
“You thief!” Pine laughed taking the pan from his Aunt.
They were so busy stealing, giving away and taking bags and laughing, joking and teasing that no one noticed that the table was almost empty.
“I got a package.” Mrs. Mahogany called grabbing the last bag off the bottom shelf. She caught Pine’s eye and winked at him as she held the bag up and then quickly hid it behind her other bags.
“I got the last bag.” Grandpa announced a few minutes later. “Now we get to see what we were stealing and giving away.” he laughed.
“Before you start tearing into the bags.” Grandma shouted standing up to get everyone’s attention. “Does everyone have bags?”
“I have one.” Blossom said quietly looking at the large piles of bags in front of everyone else.
“I have two.” Mr. Browne echoed looking all around his chair. “I seem to remember having more but I’m afraid most of mine were stolen.”
“Mine, too.” Blossom giggled holding up her one remaining bag.
“I have lots of them.” Oak looked down at the huge pile of bags he had gotten. He had the largest pile of bags of everyone in the room. “You can have some of mine, Dad, you too, Blossom.” he started to carefully count his bags and gave part of them away. The others followed his example and started counting their own bags until everyone had the same number of bags.
“Thanks, Oak.” Blossom said giving her cousin a hug.
“You can have some of mine if you want them, Blossom.” Bud offered looking at his pile.
“No, you can keep yours Bud. It looks like we all have the same number of bags now.” Grandpa said patting Bud on the shoulder. “But it was awfully nice of you to offer to give your bags away. Now,” he looked over at Grandma. “can we open them?”
“Yes, we can open them.”
“Look,” Sunflower shouted through the sound of tearing paper. “These pine-cones are beautiful. Who made these?” she held up a pine-cone covered in gold glitter with a small piece of a cinnamon stick glued to it. A gold cord was wrapped around the top so it could hang on the tree. “These smell delicious.” she said holding it so she could sniff it.
“We made them!” Bud shouted. “It was Pine’s idea. We went outside and found them in the snow storm. Uncle Elm helped us dry them in the oven and then we decorated them.”
“I got one also.” Grandma said holding up a silver one. “This will look so beautiful on my tree. Thank you Pine, Oak and Bud. I love my pine-cone.”
“You’re welcomed Grandma.” the three boys said.
“I got a puppy! I got a Christmas puppy!” Bud screamed pulling a black and white puppy with a Santa hat on out of his bag.
“We made that.” Blossom beamed. “I was hoping you would get it. I was thinking of you Bud, when we made it. Mom showed us how to sew those.”
“I’ve got one too, but my doggy is brown.” Grandpa held his down so Bud could see it.
“I’ve got one of your mice ornaments.” Oak said holding up a mouse. “He’s really cute. Thanks Rose, Sunflower and Blossom.”
“Yeah, thanks Rose, Sunflower and Blossom.” Bud said tearing open another bag. “Look at this.” he held up a wooden horse ornament. “It’s just like the horse that pulled the sleigh tonight.”
Blossom looked over at the horse Bud was holding and started tearing open her other bags. “I got one, I got a horse!” she screamed hugging the small wooden horse.
“There should be a bunch of them. I made enough that everyone could possibly get one. Grandma painted them so they would look like Barnaby. We wanted you all to have one so you would always remember the sleigh ride tonight.” Grandpa said watching the rest open their bags.
“Here, Rose, I got two horses.” Pine said when he noticed she hadn’t gotten one. “You can have one of them.”
“Thank you Pine. I got two of Mom’s painted balls. You can have one of them. They look like the snowstorm we had before Christmas.” By the time everyone had finished trading and exchanging ornaments so that everyone had a fair share of everyone’s homemade ornaments it was bedtime.
“Off to bed everyone. Santa Claus won’t come if you’re still up and its way past your bedtimes.” Mrs. Browne said starting to herd the two little ones towards the bedrooms.
Bud tugged on Pine’s shirt sleeve motioning for him to lean down. When Pine leaned down Bud whispered. “Can’t we give the girls their notebooks tonight?”
Pine straightened up and turned to look at his parents. “Can’t we give out our home-made present to each other tonight?”
“And we always get to open our ornaments from Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas Eve.” Sunflower said looking over at their Grandparents for extra support.
Mrs. Browne looked confused as she looked over at Mrs. Mahogany. “I had the boys draw one of the girl’s names and the girls drew the boys names. Then they made homemade presents for each other out of a regular three-ring notebook. They worked very hard to make a special present for each other.” she smiled at the six expectant faces watching her. “Yes, you can give each other your notebooks and open your ornaments from Grandma and Grandpa.”
“Yippee!” Bud and Blossom shouted.
“Super cool!” Pine said heading to the tree with Oak to give the girls their notebooks.
Next week Chapter 8 Home Made Presents