In the days leading up to Christmas the homestead had become an open house. Friends and neighbors were welcomed. Family and relatives embraced. Everyone and anyone invited to come in and warm by the hearth. Mrs. Weald offers coffee or cocktails or to stay for dinner. The hill house shifts and expands, quietly and accommodating, making space for extra guests. The pinnacle of the season comes on Christmas day, but the party is not over yet. The Weald family continues to host visitors at Milkweed Lane until the grand finale. An ending celebrated with music, feasting and a midnight toast to bring in the new year.
The first days of the new year see the festive season dwindle away. By the end of the first week Mrs. Weald has all the decorations put away, the children are back at school and the house exhales. Letting out a creaky sigh, the homestead contracts and resumes its usual size. All signs of celebration have been stored away and forgotten. By January ending life at Milkweed lane returns to normal, typical and ordinary.
Today is one of those ordinary Saturdays. Beth with a book, the boys outside with the dogs, Bill and Mr. Weald have gone into town and Mrs. Weald watches television, taking advantage of her chance to see the shows she likes. Little Lauren is content and crafting at the dining table. Valentine’s day is two weeks away and she is excited to exchange cards with her classmates. Nothing unusual, an average, ordinary day.
It is Right about now, as Lauren asks Mrs. Weald for ribbon, that the twins burst in like a whirlwind. Shoving each other through the doorway, stomping wet boots and leaving the door wide open. Wet dogs scamper in behind, bringing with them a cold gust which blows glitter and paper off the table.
“Close the door!” the expression on Mrs. Weald face as she hollers at Joey and Josh reveals her annoyance. “You two get those wet things off and clean up this mess.”
“awe. why do we have to do it? its Laurens junk.”
“It was you who left the door open so you who are responsible for the mess. Also because I said so.”
The boys shrug off the rest of their outer-wear and start on the mess. Lauren is already on the floor trying to salvage her materials. As they organize the supplies the twins decide they also want to make valentines. So the three siblings set to work, colouring and stapling, cutting and pasting, designing greetings of love or at least like. Lauren again asks about red string. Mrs. Weald is not sure she has any. “Will yellow do?” Josh and Joey jump up. “We know where the red string is.” They tear down the hall toward the bedroom Lauren and Beth share. Beth looks up from her book, popping up from her seat she shouts “Stay out of our room you brats!” and chases after them. It takes a moment for Lauren to realize what is happening, as it dawns on her she exclaims “Oh no!” and she too bolts down the hallway.
Joey is under Laurens bed. He retrieves and passes Josh tangles of red string and ribbon. Last month the twins had observed Lauren collecting Christmas scraps and storing them beneath her bed like a squirrel and its peanuts. Lauren begins to cry. “You can’t use it! I’ve saved it. It is mine.”
When Mrs. Weald joins her children in the bedroom the look on her face says it all. With a voice that matches she demands “What is going on here?”
Josh and Joey now sense that they might be in trouble. Lauren is sobbing and sniffling as she collects the ribbon from her brothers arms and Beth stands with her hands on her hips, indignant at all the intruders in her room. Mrs. Weald looks around the room at her offspring, summoning her composure she calmly says “Everyone to the table.”
The group assembles with only Lauren understanding what is actually happening. Mrs. Weald hands her a tissue then puts the kettle on. Once they all have tea or hot chocolate Mrs. Weald asks Lauren if she is ready to explain.
Lauren places the tangled heap in the center of the table, sips her hot chocolate, sniffles, and begins, ” I don’t want to use those ribbons for my valentines. They are meant for something else. I saved them from Christmas wrapping, they are mine.” Mrs. Weald compassionately places her arm across her daughters shoulders, taking a deep breath, softly asks. “What are you saving them for sweetie?”
“Well, for next Thanksgiving, of course.” Lauren states this as if it’s explanation enough.
By now the twins had stopped listening and loudly slurp hot chocolate. Beth has also lost interest, she takes her book and tea to her room. Mrs. Weald stares at Lauren, racking her brain, trying to figure out what her youngest child is taking about.
“I am afraid I don’t understand.” she confesses. Lauren pulls a length of ribbon from the tangle and continues. “This was tied around a package from Mr. Meadows. When you left it on the counter I took the ribbon. I thought we could use in next time we go out to look for a christmas tree. I saved all the red ties.”
Smiling Mrs. Weald kisses the top of her daughters head. “Ahh…. Well, I think we can find a better place to keep your ribbons.” She goes to the closet and produces a shoe box. Lauren paints and decorates it, she labels it “Christmas tree ribbon.” Mrs.Weald pulls apart the cluttered mess of red, untangles the ribbon and spools each piece up nicely and neatly.
Mother and daughter work together. On this ordinary day, transforming an ordinary shoebox with ordinary ribbon scraps into something extraordinary.