Chapter Four: Decking the Halls

By the time they made it inside to the farmhouse, Lily was barely conscious. She yawned the whole way in the hover car and he’d had to carry her into the house. He set her on the couch while he went back out to the car to get the things he’d bought.

He’d noticed Barb had included one of those big fat candy canes for Lily too.  

Back inside, Jim smiled at his angel, who now looked completely zonked out. He shook his head at the tree box he’d just bought.

Bent down and picked up his girl.

“Daddy,” she mumbled.

“What do you say we go to bed for now and decorate the tree and everything else tomorrow?”

Jim carried her upstairs.

“’K.”

He placed her on the bed and then went to her dresser to get her nightgown, this one purple with yellow flowers, and dressed her in it, before tucking her under the covers. She barely woke up.

“Been a long day for both of us,” Jim agreed before kissing her forehead. He turned out the light as he left her bedroom.

Before going to bed himself, Jim went back down the stairs and set up the tree in the living room so it would be ready to decorate when Lily got up. He also hid the bag with the crystal angel, doll, and candy cane in it. Those would be for Santa to give her.

He set up his coffee maker to go off in the morning and got together all the ingredients they’d need to make cookies tomorrow as well. Might as well give his daughter all the Christmas he could while he was still able.

Then he finally went to bed himself.

****

“So,” Jim said to Lily as he set her up at the dining room table with her breakfast of an egg and potatoes. “No work today so we can spend all day getting the house ready for Christmas.”

Lily clapped. “Yay!”

He smiled. Sat down next to her with his coffee and his own plate of eggs and potatoes.

“Daddy has a new job too. I start tomorrow. Pretty early again. But I’ll probably be able to pick you up from Maggie’s earlier now.”

“Okay, Daddy. After breakfast I want to write my list to Santa.”

“Sure thing. Um. But you know…” Jim paused and sipped his coffee. “Times are pretty hard right now. Even for Santa. So it might be that you won’t get everything on your list.”

She raised her big blue eyes to him. “I know that, Daddy. But I still have to ask.”

“Very true and very wise. Okay finish up and I’ll get you something to make your list with.”

Fortunately, her list ended up being pretty simple. Mostly toys and children’s books. But at the bottom of her list, the last thing she wrote was Daddy.    

Jim frowned as he walked into the living room where she was putting ornaments on their tree.

“Hey, angel, what’s this last one? You don’t want another Daddy, do you?” He grinned. “Don’t you already have the best one?”

Lily giggled. “Not another Daddy. That’s just a little note for Santa.”

“What do you mean?”

She sighed. “It’s a secret, Daddy. But Santa should know what it means. And if I get it for Christmas, I’ll tell you.”

Jim didn’t have the heart to say if she didn’t tell him what she wanted there was no chance of Santa getting it for her. He just smiled.

“Okay. I’ll mail off your list to Santa. When we’re done with the tree, we can make sugar cookies.”

“And decorate ‘em?”

“And decorate them. Yes.”

Jim was the world’s worst cookie decorator and that was the God’s honest truth. He wouldn’t know how to flood frosting properly to save his life, literally. And whenever he tried to pipe eyes or mouths they ended up looking like squiggly worms. Nothing said the holidays like a red squiggly worm mouth, Jim thought with a snort.

But Lily was happy and that was what mattered. Hers actually looked better than his, sparkly sugar dust everywhere and all.

It was a fun afternoon.

Even though there was a big mess to clean. And that night for dinner, they made homemade pizza. Another mess to clean. But Lily had a good day. So did Jim.