‘Twas the day before Christmas on Oak Street, and all through the…um, no I’m not doing that.
The boys and I were engaged in our usual pre-Christmas rituals: I was making my old secret family “pigs in a blanket” recipe for a party later. The secret? Let’s just say I have a little help from a certain Dough Boy. The boys were trying to ruin all their video games in anticipation of a new crop Christmas morning.
I realized I was missing a critical ingredient. Either pigs or blankets, I can’t remember. But the thought of taking the boys to Jewel on Christmas Eve filled me with dread. I figured it had devolved into a “Mad Max” scenario. Not the cool Charlize Theron kind, but the mullet Mel Gibson version.
I wondered if I should leave them alone. I remembered an NPR thing admonishing me about how overprotective parents are these days. In the old days, you’d just chuck your infant into a snow drift when you went to Jewel to get crescent rolls. Maybe you’d give them a sharpened rattle for protection.
To prove NPR wrong, I announced that I was heading to the store. No response beyond the telltale click of controller buttons. I wrote my cell number on our fridge and attempted to give Elijah instructions.
“Don’t leave the house. Unless something bad happens. Then leave the house immediately. Don’t answer the door. Unless it’s a police officer. But then ask to see some I.D. and a warrant. If Mad Max style mutants come, you are S.O.L. because your mother won’t let us have a gun.”
Eli didn’t even look up from his game. “Guh.”
I raced to Jewel and was surprised by how civilized it was. Burl Ives sang to me about Holly and Jolly. I was able to scoot right through the 15 items or less line and had a lovely conversation with my cashier about how few a-holes came through her line that day. I assured her I would not add to her a-hole list and popped a penny into the give a penny take a penny bowl with a wink.
I opened our front door and bellowed a “Hello!” Click click click went the controllers.
But as I took off my coat I was struck by a distinctive smoky smell. And there was a little haze in the air. Strange. I walked upstairs to our kitchen and the haze had turned to smoke.
I turned into the kitchen and found the cast iron pot I had cleaned earlier still on the stove, under the high heat I had ignited a half hour before. The pot was nearly red hot and making weird hot noises. Oh yeah. That. Oops.
I quickly turned off the stove and opened a window to wave out the evidence. I then raced downstairs to apologize to the boys. Click click click.
Christmas gleefully came and went, pigs and blankets were eaten, and I gave myself the gift of constant images of burning my house down running through my head.