The Chirstmas Spirit

She's got both hands on the box and is pumping those little legs hard. She's controlling her breathing. Exhaling when exerting, breathing in calmly when gathering her strength. Little Hoss is amazingly strong, more so than I give her credit for.

Sure, she's strong for her age. I know that. I've seen her level carnage on things that would survive an elephant stampede, but not one afternoon with my daughter. I've seen her haul a dog up a slide by the neck without breaking a sweat. But this, this is truly impressive. This time she is hauling the Christmas tree box up out of the basement, or as I like to call it: The Cat's Den of Evil.

The greatest day in a child's life is of course, Christmas. The saddest day is the day after Christmas. The age they realize this is 3 1/2; which is when they finally realize exactly who Santa Claus is, what is his purpose, and what exactly is in that big sack her carries around. In his bag are toys, toys for her. And one day he is going to come to Little Hoss's house and empty that great big sack of toys under the Christmas tree. And if we are especially good boys and girls, maybe he'll throw our evil cat in his empty sack and lose it somewhere over the Atlantic on his way to Europe. That's my Christmas wish.

But she has also realized that Santa won't come if things aren't ready. And that means a Christmas Tree has got to go up, lights on the house have to be done and her little brother has to be hidden in a closet - because that is what big sister's do to little brothers. So the week of Thanksgiving she has been bugging me constantly to get the tree out of the Cat's Evil Den and put it up and then to get my lazy ass outside and put up some Christmas lights.

I put her off until the day after Thanksgiving and finally gave her the go ahead. I could only see the vapor trails that followed her as she shot down to the basement. By the time I got down there to actually get the tree she was already dragging the box across the basement floor. This is a big box and it's very unwieldy. It's even awkward for me, a gigantic man of impressive strength, wit and good looks. But I have no hair and that keeps me humble.

Since I have given my thumbs up, she wastes no time. She gives a big jerk on it, slides it a foot, gets her feet underneath her again and gives it another big jerk. I wonder if I tied an 18 wheeler to her waist and put a cookie in front of her, how long could she pull it before she tired out? If the 18 wheeler contained Christmas trees, it might be a while. I decide to step back and see how far she can go with this.

She gets it passed my punching bag (which I taught her to use--big mistake) and keeps going. She gets it to the bottom of the basement stairs. I think this is where she is going to putter out. Nope. I'll be damned if she doesn't get leverage on this box and actually hoist it up a stair. At this point, I'm speechless.

She looks at the box again and realizes that she is going to need some help. I'm ready to step in but instead she calls her little brother, Bubba Hoss and tells him to get at the back of the box and push. I'm a little hurt but at least they are working together.

Bubba Hoss is going through a weird stage right now at 2 years old. I call it "Let's Whip Dad's Ass". It's a fun stage where he ignores everything I say, chunks peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the dog and walls, finds alone time to go poop, and then does whatever his sister says to do. Because after all, what she does is fun, fun, fun. Dad is a moron but Little Hoss breaks stuff so let's do that. He has found his independence from me. My sweet little boy is no longer the snuggler. He now gives me looks of contempt while chugging a glass of milk from his Transformers sippie cup.

He is her toadie and that's as it should be. I was a toadie to my own brother for years and it looks like that cycle will repeat itself.

"Push" she says. He does and she jerks it up another step. "Push" she says again and once more it goes up another step. Of course you have seen the movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". The part where the Grinch lifts up the sleigh, I figure that's how this is working. I have no other rationale how my little daughter and my small son can lift this thing up the basement stairs. But they are doing it and doing it without a bit of help from me.

"Push" one more time and they finally get it to the point where the end of the box is going to have to come up a stair. My fear is that Bubba Hoss is going to get crushed on the next big push so I step forward. "Wait" she says and actually holds out her arm to stop me. And I do. I don't know why but she had such a look of authority that I think it was just instinct to listen to her. She studies the box and seems to consider the risk of crushing her brother vs. getting the box up for Santa.

"Ok Daddy" she tells me and steps aside. That right there, that bought her onto the nice list. Not only that she needs me but that she showed that injury to her brother wasn't worth getting the tree up on her own.

I was very proud of her and her thoughtfulness. What a fine little girl she is turning out to be. Until I realized that once we got the tree up, she shut the basement door with her brother still down there.

The cat's still down there too, man. She was so close to getting that pony to. Maybe next year.

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