I’ve never seen more pipe cleaners on a Christmas tree. Boredom has driven our five-year-old to the depths of the craft closet, dragging out glitter glue, construction paper, chenille and God-knows-what-else in his quest to create the perfect Christmas ornament.
Naturally, all of the attempts at perfection are still fodder for the tree. It’s bad enough that he tends to hang the real ornaments in clumps, although that does help to cover the burnt-out lights that I’ve failed to replace.
Our tree has a Disney theme; we’ve collected ornaments featuring our favorite characters since before the boys were born. In fact, that’s probably why we decided to have kids — so guests would stop looking at us like freaks when they see our tree.
But the little guy must have felt there aren’t enough Disney characters, so he started making some of his own — each one of them a Mickey head made from three pipe cleaners, bent into circles and attached together like the eponymouse head with its two huge ears. He’s added a pipe cleaner “string” to most of them, preferring to call them, “Mickey head balloons.” (Yes, he’s been to Disney World too much.)
The first time he brought one to me, I praised his work and thanked him the way the dads’ manual says to, but I guess I overdid it. He took it to hear and set to work on about 17 more Mickey head balloons, which he then hung all over the tree. This is in addition to the dozens of other crafts he’d made in kindergarten before Christmas Break started — the requisite candy cane made from red and white beads, the cut-out snowman, etc. I figured the only thing we were missing is the ubiquitous red and green construction paper chain — until last night.
He’d been busy with his markers, coloring in something he’d cut out of printer paper, when he came running up to show me. “Look, Dad! Do you like it?”
“Wow! That’s great! It’s a…”
I wasn’t sure what it was. It was oblong and bent, colored mostly green. At first I thought it might be a zucchini or a cucumber, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he wanted to make me a piece of Christmas produce. But where was I?
“It’s a…” Okay, Dan, think! You can still spare his self-esteem!
“…nother decoration! How nice!” Whew! Good save!
“Fanks, Dad! Want me to put it on the tree for you?”
I spent the rest of the evening wondering what that thing was, and how likely he’d be to notice if it disappeared overnight. When I went to take a closer look at it, I noticed some yellow squiggles on the vegetable in question.
“Hey, Matthew, what are these?”
“Dose are ledders, Dad — just like on our real stockings.” Aha! It was a Christmas stocking!
“Oh, I see now!”
“Uh-huh, dere’s a K for Kim, a M for Maffew, a C for Cistopher and look at the top!”
“A D for Dan?”
I’d never seen him looking so proud of a big, backward, upper-case D. He’d given my initial the place of honor on the cucumber stocking, and suddenly I was proud, too. Now I’m going to make sure that thing doesn’t disappear — at least, not until the season is over and I give it a place of honor in his keepsake box.
He grinned up at me and asked, “Hey, Dad, amn’t I good at crafts?”
Yes, son. Yes you am.