The Jansen family down the street had a
new baby. The baby was born the day after Christmas. “It’s too
bad he missed all the fun,” Charlie said. “He should have come a
day earlier. If your birthday is on Christmas, do you get twice as
“I’m not sure,” Isaac said. “But
that seems fair.”
“We have a present to give him now,”
Marianne said. She held up a wrapped box.
“Isn’t that Christmas paper?”
Charlie asked. “He missed Christmas. You need to use birthday
“It’s stripes,” Isaac pointed out.
“That can be for birthdays too.”
“But it’s Christmas colors. And we
used it for Christmas.”
“Red and gold aren’t just for
Christmas. And they won’t know we wrapped our Christmas presents
with this paper, as long as we don’t tell them.” Marianne raised
“Fine.” Charlie huffed and
crossed his arm. “But if he cries when he sees the present, it’s
because he knows Christmas wrapping paper when he sees it.”
Marianne rolled her eyes. “He’s a
baby. He doesn’t care. Let’s go.”
So they put on their coats and hats
and mittens and boots. The snow was a mix of crunchy and soft, the
way it gets when winter won’t make up its mind and everything thaws a
bit, refreezes, new snow falls, and it starts all over. Marianne and
Isaac stuck to the shoveled path, but Charlie waded through the deep
snow just to the sides of the path.
The Jansens lived just around the
corner. It didn’t take long to get there. It did take a while for
Charlie to brush and stomp all the snow off when Mr. Jansen answered
the door and invited them inside.
Charlie hurried into the living room
where Mrs. Jansen was sitting in a comfortable looking chair, rocking
a small bundled-up baby. Charlie put his hands behind his back and
leaned in close to look. Mrs. Jansen gently positioned the baby so
Charlie could see him better.
“Oh,” Charlie said softly. “He’s
so little. Even his fingernails are little.”
The baby stirred and opened his eyes,
just as Isaac and Marianne entered the room. Charlie turned to them
with a wide grin. “Mom! Dad! Did you see the baby? He’s so
The baby scrunched up his little face
and began to wail. Charlie turned to look at the baby and then
looked at Marianne with a frown. “Was it because he saw the
present? I bet he doesn’t like it.”
Mrs. Jensen laughed. “He’s hungry.”
She held the baby close as she stood up. “I need to go feed him.”
Charlie held up his hands. “But you
didn’t open the present. I want to see what we got the baby.”
“I’ll open the present,” Mr.
Charlie turned to look at him, eyes
wide with surprise. “But it’s for the baby.”
“I’ll make sure he gets it. He’s
not big enough to open presents yet.” Mr. Jensen smiled at
Marianne handed him the present.
Charlie frowned, but sat on the couch without saying anything.
Marianne and Isaac sat by him as Mr. Jansen sat in the comfortable
He tore open the paper. Charlie
leaned forward to look. “We got the baby books? Babies can’t
“We’ll read them to him,” Mr.
Jansen said. “Thank you for the gift.”
“Like a bedtime story? That’s
good.” Charlie jumped up. “Let’s go.”
“Congratulations,” Marianne said.
“Happy new year,” Isaac added.
“Happy new baby,” Charlie said.
Mr. Jansen laughed and led them to the
door. On the way home, Charlie stuck to the sidewalk. “Was I that
“And you read to me when I was that
“I don’t remember that.” Charlie
held onto Isaac’s hand. “I don’t remember being a baby.” He
walked quietly for a few steps. “Next year, will the baby be big
enough to open his own presents?”
“Next year, let’s get birthday
wrapping paper. And we can get the baby more books.”
Isaac squeezed his hand. “That
sounds like a great plan.”
Marianne smiled back over her
shoulder. “We can do that.”