On Saturdays, Ruthie didn’t go away to school. I liked those days, because sometimes she would sleep late or take a nap, and I could cuddle more with her.
That morning Mommy told Ruthie, “Today is Christmas cookie day.”
“Oh, good.” Ruthie bounced and clapped her hands. “Do I get to help? I’m big, Mommy. I’m six. I’ll be careful, and I won’t make a mess.”
“Yes ma’am, you can help. I’ve been looking forward to doing this with you.”
This sounded exciting, so I hung around in the kitchen to help.
I can’t say that there was no mess, but it was a lot of fun. Many things fell on the floor, little pieces of interesting food. There were yummy little bits called nuts and raisins and marshmallows and gum drops and sprinkles. I sniffed and sneaked a few of them before Mommy was able to clean them up. There were also some little flakes called oats and coconut, which Bruce jumped at, but I didn’t like them as much.
Mommy didn’t get mad when Ruthie spilled anything. She just laughed and cleaned it up. Ruthie laughed too, and they talked and made a lot of noise and listened to more of the Christmas music and made all kinds of pretty, fantastic-smelling cookies.
“Now it’s dish washing time,” Mommy said.
“Oh.” Ruthie didn’t sound quite so excited anymore.
“Come on, sweetie, it’s part of the fun.” Mommy handed Ruthie a towel. “I’ll wash, you dry.”
Bruce sniffed around on the floor again, but Mommy got all the good stuff picked up. He wagged his tail and left the room, but I curled up on a kitchen chair. I wanted to stay with Ruthie and Mommy and listen to the music. The song playing now said, “Joy to the world.”
“I love this song.” Ruthie danced as she dried a bowl.
“Me, too,” Mommy said and sang along with the music. “Christmas is a joyful time, because Jesus came.”
“I love Jesus.” Ruthie made a big smile.
“I know you do, sweetie, and Jesus loves you so much.” Mommy bent down and kissed Ruthie on the head.
“Did they have snow where Jesus was born?”
“I’m not sure.” Mommy picked up a towel to dry a big pan they’d baked cookies on in the hot oven. “I’ll do this one.”
Ruthie picked up some forks and spoons to dry. “It must have been fun for the animals in the stable, to be there when Baby Jesus was born.” She put the spoons away in a drawer. “I bet Millie would have liked to be a barn cat there that night.” She giggled.
I pricked up my ears. What was a barn cat? A stable? I needed to ask my mama.
Mommy laughed. “I bet she would have.” She handed Ruthie a big spoon made out of wood.
“Oh, oh, Jingle Bells.” Ruthie danced again. “That’s my favorite Christmas song.”
“It is fun.” Mommy dried a big pot.
“I wish we had a horse and sleigh, Mommy.”
Ruthie dropped her towel on the floor, and Mommy handed her another one. “That would be nice,” Mommy said. “Whoa, horsey.”
The next song on the radio was slow. “Oh, holy night,” Mommy sang along.
“Mommy, what does holy mean?”
Mommy dried another big cookie baking pan. “Mmm, holy is how wonderful God is, how good and amazing.”
“And Jesus, too.” Ruthie nodded. “Jesus is God.”
“That’s right, baby.” Mommy smiled at Ruthie. “Jesus is God.”
“Mommy?” Ruthie looked down at the towel in her hands and bit her lip. “Jake is so sad. I want him to be happy about being with us for Christmas.”
“I know.” Mommy laid her towel on the counter and sat on a chair, pulling Ruthie onto her lap. “I do too, honey. In a while, you can take him a big plate with lots of different kinds of cookies.” She tickled Ruthie under her chin. “You can tell him he is your favorite big brother. That will help him be happy.”
“Oh, Mommy, he’s my only big brother.” Ruthie made a little laugh. “I’m glad I get to spend Christmas with you,” she whispered.
“Me, too.” Mommy squeezed Ruthie, and both of them had a couple of tears coming out of their eyes.