Two little pale faces peer at me. “What, sure, what time is it?” asks Jacob.
“In California or Texas? Grandpa made coffee.” They climb over me all elbows and knees. I scoot over for Nicholas. He is coughing. They snuggle on each side of me.
“Can we have waffles and cocoa?” He wipes his nose on my nightgown.
There is nothing on earth better than this. “Absolutely,” I hug them quickly before they scramble away.
My cottage’s kitchen is covered with three stores worth of groceries. I look for a place to plug in the waffle maker. I keep losing my coffee.
Grandpa reports he carried 250 pounds of luggage. I give him a waffle as payment. The poor man is the only one who takes being Jewish so literally.
Really, we don’t have ham sandwiches or crosses. My tree topper is a mermaid. The boys and I got the tree last night and hauled it in. It stands crookedly and is a merry mess. The kids like hauling and tying it with ropes best. I’m an environmentalist who in theory opposes sacrificing trees. We have solar.
“I want to go on your walk,” Jacob asks.
“Walking up hills?” God, I am so tired.
He shows his muscles with both skinny arms. Testosterone is here so soon.
“Nicholas, are you going?” He shakes his head “no.”
Jacob earnestly responds. “Nicholas is grounded. Mom said she might have a talk with Santa Claus. He put his sports bottle in his pants at the game and pretended to pee on everyone. Dad said 300 people were watching.”
Nicholas flashes me his Cheshire cat smile.
Jacob and I greet the seals at Crescent Bay Park.
“More hot chocolate?” We walk to Husky Boy’s. I forgot no cow’s milk.
“How much change did you get from your $20?”
“Grandma, did you know tomorrow is Christmas? My Mom works really hard and I want to get her a present. I think Nicholas took my money so could I pay you back.”
My daughter, Michelle, and grandson, Jimmy, are joining us for breakfast at Madison Square. Michelle runs late, but she complains about Jimmy being a slow poke.
I am sure my children have amnesia about their own childhood. Both complain about their children being exactly like them.
Jacob and I have less than an hour to shop.
“Jacob, how about the discount store? Your Mom used to work there.”
“Oh no, that will remind her of work!”
Chico’s is the store my daughters tell me all grandmothers like. Jacob is so intent that he instantly attracts a charmed sales lady. My suggestions are “way too disco.” He decides on jewelry.
“My Mom loves this glittery stuff.”
I produce a $100 bill. Jacob watches everything on the tiptoes of his high-tops.
“Don’t give her a $100! I can’t let you!”
The delighted Sales Angel intercedes. “Jacob, you look old enough to understand change.” She proceeds to count out what looks like a lot of money to him.
“My Dad works really hard too.”
“Your Dad is so big. Maybe a T shirt?”
“No way, tacky.”
We cut through the alley to Laguna Drugs.
“Big Red Gum, his favorite!”
“Look, a cool red baseball hat”
Another enchanted salesperson helps. “His Dad is a very large red head.” I tell her, considering both size and color.
“Orange-headed,” Jacob informs us. The hat adjusts. He discovers a cork trivet printed with a golfer. “Dad is always looking for one of these.”
He directs the gorgeous gift-wrapping.
Later, while hiding gifts, Nicholas pops in, pulling out a pocket full of cash, “I’m buying part of the presents.” He pushes up his glasses, his sticky fingers on the lenses and begins to add numerous bows.
“You stole that from me!” Jacob yells.
“I traded you for my Star Wars underwear, gum and my Lego motorcycle that makes fire. Didn’t you see it in your room?”
Nicholas is so like his mother was. It hits me this was the most fun shopping experience of my life.
Susan Jacob is a psychotherapist who has lived in Laguna Beach for 20 years.