Last month Brian & I talked about our Christmas lists, and Brian asked Helen what she wanted for Christmas. I have to hand it to her, that girl was prepared for this question. To this day, someone will ask me what I want for Christmas, and everything I would love to have flies right out of my head. I end up asking for kitchen stuff, bless my heart. But kids? They are pageant contestants, in a 24/7 prep course for the interview portion of the evening. Lists for Santa are on the tip of their tongue. I bet they schedule rehearsals during recess.
Anyway, Helen pipes up, "I want a tree with eyeballs." Brian & I looked at each other, then he dutifully wrote it down. I was completely mystified. What in the heck? A tree? With eyeballs? I pictured some animated talking Christmas tree on television that she had seen, or maybe one of those singing Christmas trees that you see in stores. I couldn't for the life of me remember seeing that anywhere with her, but perhaps she had seen one at school.
Over the next few weeks, occasionally we'd ask about what she wanted for Christmas, and to her credit, she has remained steadfastly loyal to the original list. Always, she said, "a tree with eyeballs." So last week, we sat down at dinner and tried to figure out exactly what the heck she was asking us to buy.
I asked Helen if she could draw a picture of the Christmas tree with eyeballs, or if she could point one out to me the next time she saw one, because Santa didn't know what a Christmas tree with eyeballs looked like. She corrected me quickly. "No, Mommy, not a Christmas tree - a TREE with eyeballs." Okay, my mistake. It's Christmas time. Sue me for thinking a tree mentioned at this time of year - especially this time of year - would be a Christmas tree. I said, "Okay, a tree with eyeballs. Can you tell me where you saw one?" She thought for a minute, and replied, "You know, like at Uncle John and Auntie Tine's house?"
Suddenly, the ceiling opened up and the light shone in and angels sang "AH-HA!" in one voice, like that perfect harmony you always hope for in choir practice but only manage to achieve by yourself in the shower.
We had visited Uncle John and Auntie Tine right after Halloween, when they still had all of their decorations up. Uncle John is one of those people in your neighborhood who loves Halloween a little bit too much. You know - with the gravestones on the front lawn, and the house covered with cobwebs, and a fog machine. This year's decorations included a guy in the front window with a hockey mask & a chainsaw, and "KEEP OUT" written on the window in red paint. He also has a scary head on the front porch, which can "talk" courtesy of a speaker and a microphone. John stands at the mailbox, chatting up the parents. He learns the kids' names, then pulls out the microphone. When they approach the door, the scary head "talks" to them, using their names.
There are kids who avoid their house like the plague every year. Even the bravest ones (and some approaching their teenage years) won't go on the porch. Those who screw up the courage to ring the doorbell are then greeted by this scary talking head WHO KNOWS THEIR NAME.
Yeah, John is that guy. What he spends on decorations, he saves on candy. He also gets a good workout, what with all the doubled over laughing he does at these kids, running in terror from his front porch.
The next day, I emailed them to find out if they could shed a little bit of light on the mysterious "tree with eyeballs" for me. And after they picked themselves up off the floor from laughing so hard, I learned exactly what Helen was talking about.
We had arrived at their house in the afternoon, and Helen was a little bit cautious approaching the front door. Nothing was turned on yet, since it was still daylight. But the head was a little scary, and she told me so. I kept saying, "Oh, that's silly!" until we got inside. She was wearing her own Halloween costume, so we focused on "trick or treat!" and made it in the door with no problems. I was playing with the baby and visiting with friends, so I didn't know that later that evening, she went outside with Auntie Tine and her cousin to see the whole show at night. At first, she was a little frightened of the tree with eyeballs, but her cousin loved it so much, she realized there was no way that it could be scary. So folks, I present to you Helen's #1 Christmas wish: a Halloween decoration. By the way, it's not a tree - it's the bush behind the tree.
God bless us, every one.
Today, when I picked up Helen from daycare, I found this picture in her folder. I'm sure her teachers would love to know the story, too!