Changes make Christmas skip over Two Pan and Violet Spinrad.
Violet Spinrad says:
After a body experiences thirty Christmases, the thrill of the season crumbles into another day of work. A child is needed to inflate the holiday. The wee ones know how breathe life back into Christmas. Bricker, curmudgeon that he is, says he could do with fewer kids and a little less Christmas. I told him he knew how to stop more kids from arriving, but there wasn’t a power on earth that could stop Christmas.
He hasn’t been panning for gold much since sleet began punching the mountains. Air whistles in 2-part harmony thorough the chinks and cracks of the cabin, and the children have taken to calling it the singing winds. All eight of us pile into two beds. It allows us to layer-up the few blankets we brought over the Oregon Trail. And kids in our bed put the kibosh on any of that procreating hanky-panky Bricker talks about.
I told the three younger children Santa wouldn’t find us in this valley. They believe it. Not even the mail has found a way over the pass and into Two Pan. My children took this as a challenge. Presently, they’re gathering wood and are angry at Bricker for burning down the Stick House. Its flames would’ve been better used to signal the reindeer.
“I’ll shoot any damn deer that lands on my roof,” Bricker jokes. This set the youngest, Elizabeth, into sobs.
“Now, Sissy. A critter that size prancing on the roof would cave it in and kill us,” he says. Elizabeth stops crying. It’s believable. The cabin isn’t a sturdy building—evidenced by the singing winds and the ant-hill mounds of fine snow on the floor, after blowing through the tiniest of holes in the walls.
“Besides,” Bricker adds, proud that he’s thought up two related pieces of logic, “I hear reindeer make fine eating.” This sends two other children on a crying jag and Bricker riding off on a horse to find a quiet place in town. He’s been spending a lot of time at the Salt Lick Saloon. Says he’s doing odd jobs for them, but I catch the smell of hooch on his breath. The Christmas dolls and statues he’s whittling for the children will probably have their heads on backwards if he continues to “work” for the saloon.
The children have made gifts too. I told McAllister his gift of wheat flour was enough. The next oldest boy, Jedidiah has been cutting and stacking wood for weeks. We’ll be able to keep the cabin warm and even cook in the mud oven (if they don’t try to signal Santa.)
Because we don’t have a cow, Maggie, the 13-year-old, said her gift was to walk the 5 miles to the Woolseys and trade needlepoint for some milk. The three little ones miss milk so much. It’ll be a treat for them to have it with their biscuits on Christmas morning.
I’ve used the last yardage on my material bolt to make shirts for the kids, sewing after they’ve gone to bed. Moving here has changed us. Having nothing for Christmas makes the smallest kindness as big as the sky and the stars swooping over our heads.
It’ll be a good Christmas, even if the only thing that can find us is the wind.