Christmas Morning with Vinnie

23

Three in morning, Vinnie is stirring and so is Dexter. “Rupert, Rupert, wakeup buddy. I think I hear Santa’s sleigh.”

Vinnie climbs out of bed and heads toward the window. This move confuses Dexter. The window is the place where he barks at the trash truck, the recycle truck, and the mail truck. He knows he supposed to do this because he is a dog and all dogs do it. It is part of the human and dog treaty signed eons ago.

Vinnie gets to the window, peeks behind the shade and screams, “Mom. Dad, it snowed. I think I see Santa’s sleigh marks in the snow. I see his footprints, too. Are you awake, Mom? Dad, wake up! Let’s open presents.”

Vinnie bolts out of his bedroom, Dexter starts barking and chases Vinnie. Rupert silently goes along for the ride tucked securely under Vinnie’s arm. Vinnie slams on the brakes stopping inches from his mom, “That’s far enough, Vinnie. It’s only three o’clock. It’s much too early to open presents. Let’s go back to bed. You know our tradition. We get up and look in our stockings. We eat breakfast, then we get ready for church. After church, we’ll open all the presents. Gramma and Grampa will be here. They’re going to meet us at church and come home with us.”

“Mom, Mom, can I look. Please, please, please Mom can I look?” begs Vinnie. 

“Okay, hold my hand and we’ll peek in to see if Santa came,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, he came. He came. I saw his tracks in the snow. Mom, it snowed just for Santa. He ate the cookies and drank the milk. I know he came, Mom,” says Vinnie with all the excitement he usually reserves for the last day of school.

Vinnie holding Rupert tightly against his chest, his mom, and Dexter walk toward the living room. Vinnie’s mom has hold of Vinnie’s hand as she readies herself for Vinnie’s reaction. The glow of Christmas lights illuminate the living room. 

Vinnie whispers to his mom, “Mom, what if Santa’s still in the living room? Will he be mad if he sees me? What if Dexter thinks Santa is a burglar and attacks him?”

Vinnie’s mom smiles, “I think Santa has already been here. Did you say you saw his sleigh tracks in the snow? Besides, the only way Dexter might attack Santa is if Santa is carrying a box of hamburgers.”

“You’re really smart, Mom. Anybody ever tell you that?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s Mom smiles at Vinnie, but doesn’t let of his hand. They step toward the entry of the living room.

“Wow! Wow! Wow! Owe! Mom, let me go. I want to see my presents. Please, Mom. Please. Please. Please.”

“No, Vinnie. Merry Christmas. It looks like Santa thinks you’ve been very good this year.”

“I really tried, Mom. I really tried my best,” says Vinnie feeling a gravitational pull toward the Christmas tree.

“Vinnie, you and Rupert are to go to bed. I want a promise you will not get up until I call you in the morning.”

“Mom, you and dad always sleep in on days you don’t work.”

“I promise, I will open your door at six. If you’re awake you can get up and take your sock down from the mantel. I meant to tell you, I put up an extra sock for you because the sock Gramma gave you is too small.”

“Oh, Mom. You’re the best Mom. You’re better than Joey’s mom and she’s really nice.”

At 7 a.m. Vinnie sits on the living room rug, the contents of his two socks spilled on the rug in front of him. Vinnie’s mom and dad sit on the sofa drinking coffee watching Vinnie. 

“Bagels and cream cheese and peanut butter are on the table, Vinnie. Let’s eat so we’ll have time to get ready for Mass. We’ll meet Gramma and Gramps and come home together. Dad will put on his Santa hat and give out the presents. I think this is going to be the best Christmas ever,” says Vinnie’s mom.

 Vinnie’s dad places his hands on Vinnie’s mom’s waist and kisses her. Vinnie interrupts their kiss, “That’s disgusting. You’re passing germs. You don’t want to be sick for Christmas.”

Vinnie’s mom glances toward Vinnie, “One day, when you’re older you will enjoy kissing your special girl.”

“It won’t be until I’m real old like you, right, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom looks into his dad’s eyes, “Do I look old, dear? Be honest.”

“Be honest, Dad. Don’t lie. Santa can hear everything you say. Dad, did you get Mom’s present from Home Depot? I warned you not to go there,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad beams, “I took your advice, Vinnie and I bought Mom’s gift online. I even have a gift receipt so she can exchange it. I hope Mom likes a leaf shredder.”

“You’re kidding, right, Dad?” 

“I’m kidding.”

Santa didn’t give Vinnie everything he wanted, but Vinnie was happy with what he received. Vinnie’s Mom was happy she didn’t get a set of socket wrenches, but plans to exchange the eight quart Instant Pot tomorrow. Vinnie’s Dad was screaming with delight over his gift. Santa gave him two tickets for the opening game to baseball season for the Boston Red Sox. Dexter finished his gift of doggie treats in thirty seconds flat. And, Rupert now has friend, a smaller sized black bear. Vinnie hasn’t named him or her yet. 

Vinnie wishes you all a very merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad.

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Christmas Eve – Not a Creature was Stirring . . . Only Vinnie

22

Vinnie’s Mom and Dad sit on the sofa each with a glass of wine staring at the glowing logs in fireplace. Christmas carols softly play in the background. The Christmas tree lights dimly light the living room. 

Vinnie’s mom squeezes Vinnie’s dad’s hand, “We made it, dear. There were moments today when I wasn’t sure I could hold it together.”

Vinnie’s dad raises his glass toward Vinnie’s mom, “To you, dear. The house is beautiful. How does the poem go, ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .’

“Mom! Dad! Mom! Dad!”

“You spoke too soon, dear. Will you check on Vinnie and see what’s bothering him. I don’t think I handle it,” says Vinnie’s Mom.

“Never mind, Mom, Dad. I’ve got it,” Vinnie hollers from his bedroom.

“Dear, please check on Vinnie. Whenever he says, ‘I’ve got it,’ something dreadful happens,” whispers Vinnie’s mom resting her head against Vinnie’s dad shoulder.

“What could he be up to? I don’t want him to spoil to the moment. The Christmas lights, the Christmas music, the crackling of the wood in the fireplace, it’s all so good,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Yah,” sighs Vinnie’s mom.

A moment later, Vinnie races in the living room, Dexter follows hoping food is at the end of this game. Vinnie’s carrying the fire extinguisher. He comes to a sliding halt in front of the fireplace. 

“No, Vinnie, no,” hollers his mom.

“Vinnie, don’t spray the extinguisher,” hollers his dad.

Dexter barks.

Vinnie pulls the fire extinguisher trigger and a white cloud fills the fireplace. The Christmas tree lights go out. The kitchen lights go out. Vinnie yells, “I can’t see. Am I going blind?”

Vinnie’s dad scoops Vinnie up, “Let go of the fire extinguisher, Vinnie. You’re okay.”

“Dad, Dad, Dad fix the electricity for Santa. He’ll be here any minute. I’ve been tracking him on my tablet. He just left Peru and is heading toward toward Panama. Santa moves fast, Dad.”

“Who’s going to clean up this mess?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I’ve got it,” says Vinnie’s dad immediately regretting his choice of words.

Vinnie’s dad set Vinnie on the sofa next to his mom. Vinnie’s mom pulls a soft blanket around Vinnie. She says, “Vinnie, didn’t you know those are electric logs? Dad got them at the after Christmas sales last Christmas.”

“I forgot, Mom. I was afraid Santa was going to come down the chimney and get burned up in the fire. I had to protect Santa. You understand, Mom. Right, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom rubs Vinnie’s head, “I understand my first responder. You did what you thought was the right thing to do. The lights are back on. I think Dad fixed it.”

“Boy, Mom. When I grow up I want to be just like Dad,” says Vinnie admiringly.

“I think you already are like, Dad,” says Vinnie’s mom. Then she silently utters, “Dear Lord, why oh why?”

Vinnie’s dad has a sponge mop in hand, he stops cleaning and comes over to the sofa. “I heard Mom call you her first responder. Give me a high five and fist bump my man. Come and help me finish. You know what Santa told me in his email?”

“What, Dad, what?” 

“Santa said he’s not going to stop until we are all asleep. Make sure the cookies are far enough away from the edge of the table so Dexter won’t get them. The same with the glass of milk. Now, off to bed.”

“I’m on it, Dad. Can I give Dexter a cookie after I pick out all the chocolate chips.

“No,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s Christmas Eve, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Okay, but only one,” says Vinnie’s mom.

A minute later from the kitchen, “One cookie for Santa, one for you Dexter, and one for me. If you give me your chocolate chips, I’ll give you my cookie, Dexter.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep sigh and says to Vinnie’s dad, “What’s he going to be like when he’s a teenager?”

Vinnie’s Mom Asks, “Why Me Lord?”

20

“Mom, Mom, Mom, tonight’s the night. Santa’s coming Tonight. You didn’t bake cookies for him. He’s going to be upset. Santa told me he likes chocolate chip cookies with lots of extra chips. Honest, Mom. Honest.”

“Vincent, it’s one in the morning. Go back to bed,” mutters Vinnie’s mom.

“Rupert won’t let me sleep. He’s too excited. Can I lie down in the living room under the Christmas tree so I can wait for Santa? Can I, Mom? Can I, Mom?”

“Vincent. The last time. Go back to bed. I do not want to hear another word out of you until 7 this morning. Do you understand? Answer me, Vincent.”

“But, Mom, you told me not to say another word. Am I in trouble because I just said a lot of words? Can I set my alarm for six, Mom? I promise I won’t make any noise. I promise, Mom.”

“Say yes,” grunts Vinnie’s dad.

“Yes,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie carries Rupert out of his parents’ bedroom. Dexter follows them. Vinnie looks at Dexter, “Dexter is it okay if I open one present Gramma sent me? Wag your tail if it is okay.”

Dexter, believing Vinnie was talking about food, obligingly wags his tail. The trio, Vinnie, Rupert and Dexter head toward the living room.

From the bedroom, Vinnie’s mom calls out, “If you’re going to try to open Gramma’s present, I’m texting Santa and he might not stop here.”

Vinnie hits the brakes. He says, “I was only going to get Dexter a snack. He looks like he’s losing too much weight, Mom.”

“Back to bed this instant, Vincent.”

“Darn, Mom. I hope Santa didn’t hear you. Can Rupert and I sing Christmas carols when I’m in bed?”

From the bedroom, “I need help, dear. Please do something?” says Vinnie’s mom to his dad.

From the hallway, “I can help, Mom. What do you want me to do?” asks Vinnie.

“Dear God, I want you to go to bed. Turn off the light, and go to sleep. Is that asking too much, Vincent?”

“Mom. Mom. Mom.”

“What, Vincent?”

“Do you want me to answer truthfully or tell you what I think you want me to tell you?” asks Vinnie.

“Tell me what you think I want to hear,” moans Vinnie’s mom.

“I’m supposed to go to bed, turn off the light, and go to sleep. Did I get it right, Mom?” asks Vinnie.

“Perfect, Vincent.”

When the digital clock on the radio on the kitchen counter turned from 6:59 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. an ear shattering scream came from the kitchen, “Merry Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve.” This was followed by Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer being played loud enough to be heard by the astronauts in the international space station. 

Vinnie’s Mom and Dad race out of the bedroom wrapping bathrobes about themselves. Vinnie’s Mom pulls the radio plug out of the wall. The Rudolph continues to blast. “Dear, I can’t turn the radio off,” says Vinnie’s mother handing the radio to Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie says, “That’s because I put batteries in it in case there was a power outage.”

“Why me, Lord? Why, me?” asks Vinnie’s mom in a silent prayer.

Vinnie’s mom is making breakfast. Vinnie’s dad is sitting at the breakfast table reading the local paper online on his iPad. Vinnie is in the living room staring at three stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel. Rupert is sitting on the floor next to Vinnie. Dexter is lying on the floor next to Rupert. 

“Mom. Mom. Mom,” hollers Vinnie.

“You don’t have to holler Vinnie, I only in the next room,” calls his mom.

“It’s an emergency, Mom. It’s a real emergency,” says Vinnie with urgency in his voice.

Vinnie’s mom calls, “What is the emergency? I’m making scrambled eggs, I can’t step away right now. Do you need Dad to help you?”

“Dad will only pretend like he’s paying attention to me. You know, Mom. He does the same thing to you.”

“Ouch,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“The emergency will have to wait a few minutes, Vinnie. I only have two hands and I’m not getting any help out here in the kitchen,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Huh?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Don’t you ever tell me Vinnie takes after my side of the family, ever,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Do you need some help?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Yes. Vinnie has an emergency in the living room. He says it needs immediate attention. Can you put you iPad aside for two minutes?”

“It’s been a long day, dear and it’s only ten after seven in the morning,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“It only seems long right now. It’s going to be really, really long before Santa comes,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Why don’t I take the family out for breakfast and get pancakes?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“After I made these scrambled eggs. Who will eat them?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

From the living room, “Dexter will, Mom. Nobody but you and Dexter like scrambled eggs,” calls Vinnie. 

“They’re healthy for you,” says Vinnie’s mom defensively.

Dexter is already standing by Vinnie’s mom. He has an intuitive feel for potential food sources.

Vinnie’s dad walks into the living room, “Alright, Vinnie. What is the big emergency?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Look, Dad. Look,” says Vinnie.

“What am I supposed to look at, Vinnie?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Dad, you must be blind. Sometimes you wear glasses. Do you want me to get them for you?” asks Vinnie.

“No, I can see fine. I only wear glasses for real fine print,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Dad. Dad. Look at the mantel. There are three stockings hanging there for Santa.”

“I see three stockings hanging off the mantel, Vinnie. I think Santa will fill them while we are sleeping,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“But, Dad. Where are the stockings for Dexter and Rupert? They’re people too,” says Vinnie.

“Dear, do you have two extra stockings, one for Rupert and one for Dexter? They’re real people, too,” says Vinnie’s Dad.

“Dear Lord. Are you giving me my heavenly crown while I walk on Earth?” mutters Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s Mom Tells Vinnie to Drop It

19

“I did good, huh, Mom, huh,” says Vinnie.

“You were amazing. Sister Janet told me after it was over that you helped Eileen, Alice, and Lori with their wisemen line.”

“I told Sister Janet you can’t have girls playing wisemen, Mom. Me and Tommy and Larry would have done a better job.”

“I disagree with you, Vinnie. A girl can play one of the wisemen just as well as the boys,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad interrupts the conversation, “How about singing Christmas carols? We can stop by the coffee shop and get hot chocolate or something. It was a good night.”

“Dad, do you think Santa noticed I saved the living nativity scene?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes.

Vinnie’s dad says, “Santa sees everything.”

“I guess he saw Eileen, Alice and Lori needed help from me. They probably won’t get many presents this year because they didn’t know their lines, right, Mom?”

“Drop it, Vincent,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Drop what, Mom? I’m not holding anything. Are you talking to Dad? He’s not holding anything, either.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Let’s not talk about the living nativity any more. Let’s sing a Christmas carol. I like Silent Night.”

“Mom? Mom? Mom?”

“I wish today were Christmas,” says Vinnie’s Mom.

“I don’t, Mom.”

“Why’s that, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Dear, did you have to open that door?”

“What door, Mom? You’re not supposed to open the car door when the car is moving. Did you know that? Mom, what if there was a bad guy in here with a gun and the car was moving could I open the door then and jump out, could I, Mom?”

“Dear, can you drive a little faster?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“You don’t want Dad to get a ticket, do you Mom? I hope Santa didn’t hear you. Do you think Santa heard Mom, Dad?”

Vinnie’s dad glances at Vinnie’s mom and smiles, “Santa hears every word, Vinnie.”

“Don’t take his side. You boys always stick together,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie starts laughing.

“What are you laughing at, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“That’s what I always say about girls, Mom. That was funny. Can we sing Santa Claus is coming to Town?”

Vinnie’s mom and dad joined in the laughter. Vinnie starts the singing, “Here comes Sanity Clog. Here comes Sanity Clog. …”

“That’s not how it goes,” says Vinnie’s Mom.

“I know, Mom. It’s how Joey and me sing it.”

“Oh, dear Lord, help me to get through Christmas,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie Tells Sister Janet He Has Her Back

18

Nine children and Sister Janet are in the gymnasium. Sister Janet calls attendance. She says, “I thought I saw Vincent. Vincent, where are you?” 

Mary raises her hand, “Sister Janet, Vinnie said he had something important to do and he went outside. I think he ran away. Can I tell Santa on him, Sister? He’ll have to go to confession and confess this sin won’t he Sister? This is a very bad sin, isn’t Sister?”

Sister Janet raises her eyes and offers a silent prayer, ‘Dear Lord, please Lord in your kindness and mercy don’t ever let these two fall in love when they get older. I can’t imagine what kind of child they will produce.”

“Why are you blessing yourself, Sister Janet,” says Vinnie.

“Vincent, where were you? You know no one was supposed to leave,” says a stern Sister Janet.

“I was having your back, Sister,” says Vinnie.

“What do you mean, Vincent,” asks Sister Janet.

“I saw Father Jim and told him you were overworked are really nervous and he should give you a break when you go to confession and give you a light penance. I bet Santa knows what I did and he’ll give me an extra present for being nice to you.”

Mary hollers, “That’s not fair, Sister Janet. I would have asked Father Jim to tell you that you are already a saint. Now, Vinnie got the points with Santa and I didn’t.”

Sister Janet mutters, ‘I don’t know about being a saint, but I’m in a living hell now.’ She says to all the children, “Enough. Let’s get our costumes on. Vincent, why are you taking Mary’s shawl?”

“The ground is cold, even with the straw. I want to lay on Shawl.”

“Give me my shawl,” hollers Mary chasing Vinnie around the gym.

Ten minutes later, at 6:55, Mary and Joseph lead eight other children out of the gymnasium toward the creche. Mary whispers to Sara who is playing Joseph, I’m going to be the star of the show and you will be best supporting actor.”

“Thank you, Mary,” says Sara who wants Mary to make her, her best friend.

“No talking, Children. You know your lines. The only words you speak are your lines and no one else’s lines. Do not add anything. Vincent, do you understand?”

Vinnie makes a muling sound he believes is a donkey answering, yes.

“Enough, Vincent. No animal sounds from you,” says Sister Janet.

The children take their places in the living nativity scene. Mary and Joseph sit on a bale of hay behind a small wooden manager. A large doll wrapped in a blue cloth lies in the manager. The cow and the sheep lie on the straw behind Mary and Joseph. The three wisemen line up on the front left side of the manager. The two angels stand on the front right side of the manager. And, the donkey lies on a bed of straw in front of the manager. His head up off the straw looking at the parents standing behind a cordoned rope. 

Vinnie raises a front hoof and waves at his mom and dad. 

Vinnie’s dad waves back. Vinnie’s mom sticks an elbow in Vinnie’s dad side and says, “Don’t encourage him.”

Sister Janet steps beside Vinnie and begins reading the narrative from St. Luke’s Gospel.  

Vinnie whispers only loud enough for Sister Janet to hear, “Sister, the wisemen didn’t come on Christmas eve, they came a few days later.”

Sister Janet reads louder.

Mary speaks her line.

Sara speaks Jospeh’s line.

The angels start singing the Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

After the angels stop singing, the wisemen, one after the other step forward.

The first says, “I’ve come to bring you …”

Vinnie says, “Gold.”

“No, gold,” says Vinnie.

“But, I’m cold,” says the first wiseman.

The second steps forward and says, “I’ve come to bring you Frankenstein.”

“Frankincense,” says Vinnie.

“Franklingsence,” says the second wiseman.

“Frankincence,” says Vinnie.

“I can’t say it right with braces,” says the second wiseman.

The third wiseman steps forward and says, “I bring you a murmur.”

“No, myrrh,” says Vinnie.

“Are you sure, Vinnie?” asks the third wiseman.

“I’m sure,” says Vinnie.

Sister Janet calls out, “Wonderful children, let’s sing Silent Night.”

While the children are singing Silent Night, Sister Janet bends close to the donkey and says, “Thank you for helping, Vinnie.”

Vinnie Tells His Mom They’re Just Alike

17

“Dad, Dad, Dad,” hollers Vinnie.

“You don’t have to shout, Vinnie. Dad is sitting next to you. What is so important that you haven’t taken a bite of your breakfast?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie turns toward his mom, “This is between Dad and me, Mom. You have to put your fingers in your ears so you don’t hear.”

“Can’t it wait until after breakfast?” asks Vinnie’s mom. She instantly realizes Vinnie is always all in to the present moment and whatever thought is racing around in his brain.

“Dear, it’s probably best if you listen to Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“What is so important, Vinnie,” says his dad.

“Dad, why are you reading your iPad? Mom always says it’s better not to have digital stuff at the table,” says Vinnie.

“I wanted to see the scores of the basketball games, that’s all,” says Vinnie’s dad sheepishly. He clicks off the iPad and turns it over. “Is that better?”

“Yep. Mom, put your fingers in your ears and keep them there until I tell you to take them out.”

Vinnie’s mom puts a forefinger in each ear. She smiles at Vinnie.

Vinnie hollers, “Can you hear me, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom shakes her head no. 

Vinnie says, “Thanks, Mom. I know you can’t hear me because you never lie to me.”

Vinnie’s mom thinks, Vinnie really takes after his dad’s side of the family. She wonders if she’ll ever see a sign of her DNA in him. A passing thought runs through her mind, ‘Could the babies have been switched at the hospital?’ She shakes her head no, impossible, but then again.

“Why are you shaking your head, Mom? Never mind, you can’t hear me,” says Vinnie turning his attention toward his dad.

“Dad, I need to do my Christmas shopping. I have to buy you and mom and Rupert and Dexter presents. I want to get all of you stocking stuffers. It’s going to take me all day and part of the evening. Can I miss the living nativity tonight. I don’t think I’ll be finished?”

Before Vinnie’s dad responds, his mom says,”No.”

“You were listening, Mom. You were listening. You said you couldn’t hear me.”

Vinnie’s mom is as fast on her feet as her son. She says, “Mom’s have selective hearing. I turned everything except for anything you might say about the living nativity scene.”

“Wow, Mom. We’re just alike. I tune Mrs. Navis out all the time. I only listen to what I want to listen. I take after you, Mom.”

Vinnie’s dad starts laughing.

Vinnie’s Mom, her fingers now out of her ears, says, “What are you laughing at?”

“You always wondered how Vinnie favors you.”

“Don’t go there, dear.”

“Go where, Mom. Where don’t you want dad to go. I’ll make sure he doesn’t go there. Honest. I’m on it, Mom.”

“The stores open at ten. Why don’t you two men take off for the day. I am going to the spa. Dear, buy Thai takeout, I don’t want to cook. We’ll leave at 6:30 for the live nativity scene.”

“But, Mom, it doesn’t start until 7. Can’t we leave at 7?” asks Vinnie.

“No, Vinnie, we will leave early so you can be at the nativity scene tonight a half hour early.”

“Mom, I don’t like Thigh food.”

“I said Thai food.”

“I still don’t like it. How will I play the donkey on a stomach filled with food I don’t like?”

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph please pray for me and Sister Janet,” utters Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s Mom Thinks Vinnie is Up to Something

16

Vinnie sits on his bed, his soft grizzly bear pillow bracing his back.  Rupert, his stuffed grizzly bear sits next to him, his back against the bed backboard. Dexter lies on the floor at the side of the bed hoping Vinnie won’t finish all of his Christmas cookies. 

Vinnie offers a cookie to Rupert. He places it against the grizzly’s mouth, “Here, Rupert, have a bite. Mom put extra chocolate chips in the cookies. She only does that around Christmas time. The rest of the year we get carrots and celery and apples. Jeez, why can’t every day be Christmas, Rupert? If I ever become President, I’ll make everyday Christmas, is that a good idea? Thanks, Rupert. You always think I have good ideas. I think I’ll give a half cookie to Dexter. First, I’ll eat out all the chocolate chips so Dexter won’t get sick.”

A moment later Dexter is licking up the last of the cookie crumbs off the floor. Dexter is up on his hind legs, his front paws on the edge of Vinnie’s bed. Vinnie looks over at Dexter, “Poor guy, Mom always has you on a diet. The vet keeps telling her you’re overweight, but I think you’re solid. Mom doesn’t know I keep giving you food to keep your strength up. Do you want another treat?”

Dexter barks.

Vinnie picks out the chocolate chips of his last cookie and tosses it on the floor. Dexter scoffs it up and assumes his previous position. He stands on his hind legs and rests his front paws on the edge of the bed.

Vinnie picks up a pair of scissors. He glances over to Rupert, “Rupert, Gramma made my sock for me to hang by the fireplace. It’s too small. Santa can hardly fit anything good in it. I have a better idea. I’m going to give you the stocking Gramma made for me. I took a pair of Mom’s panty hose out of the drier. She won’t miss them. I’ll cut them in half. She’ll be really happy when I decorate them. She’ll have a big stocking just like mine. I bet Santa will be really happy I was so thoughtful.”

Vinnie’s mom calls from the kitchen, “Vinnie, you’re not giving Dexter any cookies. He’s overweight. The vet wants Dexter on a diet.”

“Me, Mom? Why would I share your chocolate chip cookies with Dexter? Chocolate is not good for dogs.”

“Thank you for remembering about chocolate not being good for dogs, Vinnie.”

“Do you think Santa knows I wouldn’t give chocolate to Dexter, Mom?” Vinnie hollers from the bedroom.

“Oh, he knows. Santa knows everything,” says Vinnie’s Mom. “What are you doing in your room? Can I see?”

“No, Mom. It’s a surprise. It’s not a Christmas present, but it has something to do with Christmas.”

“Can I guess?” calls Vinnie’s mom.

“Uh, better not guess, Mom, because you can tell if I’m not telling the truth,” says Vinnie showing Rupert his crossed fingers.

“Okay. I have to go out in a while to do some volunteer work wrapping presents for the homeless. Dad will be home with you. You four boys will have a great time.”

“Can Dad order a pizza and can we watch a Christmas movie. Please, Mom. Please. It’s almost Christmas.”

There is a pause. Vinnie raises one finger after the other, when he raises his fourth finger, his mom says, “Well, it is Christmas in a few days. Only a medium pizza and not an extra large pizza.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll make sure Dad doesn’t order an extra large pizza.” Vinnie tilts his head toward Rupert, “I’ll ask Dad to order a large.”

Five minutes later, Vinnie hears his mom hollering, “Has anyone seen my pantyhose. I could swear they were in the drier.”

Vinnie glances over at Rupert, “Buddy, you didn’t warn me Mom might be looking for her pantyhose. If she finds out you cut them in half and tells Santa  you won’t get anything for Christmas.”

Vinnie uses his fake Rupert voice, “Mom loves Dexter. Why don’t we blame him if she finds out. Dexter won’t tell on us.” 

Vinnie glances over the side of the bed at Dexter asleep on the floor next to the bed. He taps Rupert, “You come up with the best ideas. Now, I got to hide her pantyhose until we can put them in the trash container in the garage.”

Vinnie hears his mom talking to his dad, “Dear, I’m going to stop at O’Donnell’s and pick up a pair of pantyhose on the way home. I don’t understand how I misplaced them.”

“It happens. Don’t forget to give Vinnie a kiss, he’ll be asleep before you come home. You know how much he looks forward to your hug and kiss every night.” 

“Rupert, I do not look forward to getting kissed and hugged every night. What’s Dad talking about? I’ve got to move fast, Mom will be in here any second. Where do you think I should hide the pantyhose?” says Vinnie.

“Vinnie, you only have time to stuff the pantyhose in your pillow. Hurry, I hear her coming close to the room,” says Rupert in Vinnie’s falsetto voice.

“Thanks, Buddy,” says Vinnie stuffing one leg after the other of the shredded pantyhose into his pillow case.

A tap on the door, “Vinnie?” The twist of the door nob and Vinnie’s Mom appears in the doorway.

“Hi, Mom. You look great. Goodnight. No need to waste your time kissing and hugging me,” says Vinnie.

“Oh, yes I am going to give you and kiss and a hug,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, how old will I have to be before you stop hugging and kissing me?”

Vinnie’s mom gives Vinnie a hug and then kisses the top of his head, “You’ll never be too old for a hug and kiss from your mom.”

Vinnie’s Mom stood up. Your pillow looks lumpy. Let me smooth it out for you.”

“No thanks, Mom. I like my pillow lumpy. All the guys at school have lumpy pillows, it’s what we talk about at lunch.”

“You do?” asks his Mom. “What’s the scissors doing on your bed. You don’t want to hurt yourself.

Vinnie’s mind was working overtime trying to figure out one excuse after the other. He said, “Awe, Mom, I wish you didn’t see the scissors. I was going to make snowflakes and surprise you. Mrs. Navis taught us all how to make snow flakes. Now, I guess I won’t because it won’t be a surprise.”

“It’s okay. I’ll still love your snowflakes. Where’s the paper your going to use to make snowflakes?”

Vinnie says, “You better go, Mom. You don’t want to be late. Bye.”

“You’re right. Enjoy your pizza with Dad. I’ll peek in on you when I come home.”

“No need, Mom. Rupert will watch out for me.”

Vinnie’s mom leaves the room, walks down the hall. Vinnie hears his mom say, “Dear, something strange is going on with Vinnie. I can’t quite put my finger on it. He’s up to something. Keep an eye on him.”

17