This past Christmas, my daughter Violet’s very excellent Aunt and Uncle and cousins sent her a humongous brown box in the mail. It got to our place a week or two early, but I stuck it back in the coat closet with it’s own zip code downstairs, to get opened on the big morning.
So, finally Christmas dawns, I mean pre-dawns, and we’re all downstairs around the tree.
Monica and I are sipping our hot coffee/wondering how it’s here already/fighting off The Army of the Christmas Eve Chianti, who are (quite discourteously, I might add) circling back onto yesterday’s battlefield to fire a couple more lame-o potshots into our throbbing skulls.
Henry, aka Baby Rhino, is under the evergreen somewhere, gnawing on a fallen ornament.
And Violet is still reeling from the browning apple core that Rudolph has left behind, on the table beside Santa’s cookie crumbs and his empty chocolate milk glass. She seems entranced. She is, for the first time, held captive by the purest spell known to man this side of the Dancing Cobra.
Wrapping paper whips across the room like cows up in a twister.
There are squeals. Hard charges by Hank: out from under the prickly tree, then back in for the next ambush.
I slide Monica some Sinatra records decked out in a robe of Wal-Mart snowmen and winter cardinals. It’s adorned with ribbon that I curled myself, by the scissor edge. She stares down at her coffee and I think she might be asleep. Or worse.
Finally, Violet is inside of the big box from her Aunt/Uncle/cousins.
Her body vanishes down into the deep and then rises up slow, see-sawing on her belly out of the cardboard sea, back down to the floorboards.
She is pulling something up and her small eyes are glimmering gas lamps shining down some rainy lane.
It’s baby blue, some sort of chiffon, maybe. She spreads it out before her in the air. Her jaw dips low. There is electric in the air. The Baby Rhino does a charge, headfirst into the big box. We begin to understand what is going on here.
It’s a princess dress. It’s the dress of dresses. It’s a little girl’s wildest dream come true.
She is in it within seconds. I don’t know how; she doesn’t dress herself yet. But there you go, she is in that thing fast. And there are magic slippers, too. Gel ones, with heels that spark and light with each enchanted step that she takes. She begins to tap dance furiously, without conscience, without out even knowing she is doing it.
The blue dress swirls and spins and her small delicate feet Flashdance in place and she is somewhere a million miles away in some castle courtyard, I guess.
Her heart has to be exploding. I know mine is.
And then, blah blah blah, the fire in the house eats the damn dress and the damn shoes like a fat pig.
We move out, move on.
Last week, a new big box arrives. It’s sitting there on the front porch of the new joint when I pull up in the Honda the day before Violet turns three. It’s a big beautiful box of love, of family kicking in. It’s her aunt and uncle and cousins again; same dress, same shoes.
And it’s Violet, the Princess of Peanut Butter Cookies, back in business once again.