The days were dwindling down to a precious few before Otto and Myrna’s holiday visit. Max, hollow eyed, had walked around the house for days, muttering. I didn’t feel any perkier.
“Come into the kitchen, dear,” I said. “Let’s have coffee.”
We sat silently at the kitchen counter, strong coffee and a canister full of pfeffernusse cookies in front of us.
After swallowing his third cookie, Max said morosely, “I’m thinking of going on Craig’s list. Do you think Santa needs extra helpers at the North Pole? Are the Clauses having a holiday party and need catering services?”
“If you’re going to the North Pole, so am I,” I said. “You’re not leaving me alone with Myrna and Otto.” I reached for another cookie.
“If you’re going to the North Pole, so am I,” I said. “You’re not leaving me alone with Myrna and Otto.”
“What do elves eat? Are they vegetarians? Do they drink eggnog? Or are they on a low sodium, low cholesterol diet? Do you think Mrs. Claus is a demanding client? They’re probably heavy drinkers,” Max said, pouring more coffee. “It gets pretty cold at the North Pole.”
“Who feeds the reindeer?”
“Well, I’m not doing it, even if they can fly.”
“They probably have a reindeer feeding service.” I had stopped counting the number of cookies I was eating. Slamming the lid back on the canister and dusting my hands off, I said, “Whoa! We’re getting a little crazy.”
Max sighed. “You’re right. There’s nothing to do but face the music and wait for them to arrive. But I need more than our usual artificial Charlie Brown tree to get me through this Christmas.”
That afternoon, we went shopping for strings of Christmas lights, several boxes of silver and gold ornaments, an artificial pine swag with sparkling fruit, fat red candles, several feet of colorful Mexican bunting and new Christmas music CD’s.
As we decorated the house, Max hummed, “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!” Everything twinkled with holiday magic. “Bring on Otto and Myrna,” he said, stepping back, admiring his work. “I’m ready!”
I showed Max thumbs up.
A few days later, we were at the airport waiting for Otto and Myrna’s plane to land.
“Still on schedule,” Max said, reading the arrivals list. “I was hoping there was a delay because of Santa and his reindeer, heavy air traffic and all that.”
“Max,” I said, “forget it. Santa is not going to bail you out.”
“Darn!” Max said. “You mean there really isn’t a Santa Claus?”
Just then we saw Myrna, tall and slim, waving wildly from the gate. She was wearing a floppy red hat with white trim.
“Oh, great!” Max said. “Myrna has signed up to be an elf.”
Beside her walked tall, thin Otto, wearing a bicycle riding outfit, a baseball cap turned front to back and his usual grim expression.
“And right behind her, is our super hero — Bike Man!”
“Max, be nice. Exercise is a good thing Now, smile! It’s showtime!”
“Happy Holidays!” Myrna said, pinching Max’s double chin. “And we have our very own Santa! You’ll look great in a red suit, Maxie dear.”
Max’s jaw tightened as he forced a smile.
Otto said, “Before we go to your house, I’d like to stop at a bicycle shop to buy a bike and at a health food store for protein powder, supplements and vitamins. I couldn’t bring them on the plane.”
As Myrna and Otto were claiming their luggage, Max said, “Well, my dear, it’s going to be quite a Christmas. Serving hors d’oeuvres sipped through a straw, vitamins as entrees and non-alcoholic bevies. Can’t wait for the party to begin!”