Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Christmas gifts

 Bern always makes me a piece of art--once a table shaped like West Virginia--I'll never figure out how she did that! And I always write her something--a poem, or in recent years stories about our grand-daughters and their special powers. Here's my story from 2020.

The Christmas of Covid

Christmas was coming in Connecticut. An evil virus was sweeping the world and the nation. No one knew what to do—oh, there were rules: wear a mask, wash your hands, keep social distance. That much was obvious. Safety above all. Don’t infect or be infected. Everyone (except some idiots—too many to mention) was aware of that.

But the Bradley girls and Eleanor wanted to be with their grandparents for Christmas. What a dilemma. How to get to Connecticut from Baltimore and North Bend, New York to Cheshire?

It would all depend on their special powers and on the special power of Brigit, their grandparents’ rescue dog.

No one knew about their powers but their Grandmother, but she was hesitant to call on them to do such things in such a pandemic time. It would be insane. But insanity was not an excuse for a Christmas they all wanted.

The Bradley girls were bored in Baltimore.

Their parents—Lawyer Josh and Judge Cathy—were out shopping and there was no one to annoy except each other. But they were past masters of annoying each other.

Tegan was playing the television too loud and both Morgan and Emma were complaining. So, Tegan, whose power was to make things fly, made the TV fly close to her two sisters.

“Cut that out!” Emma shouted and then sung a creature that looked like the Incredible Hulk into being (singing things into being was her special power) and had him grab the TV and take it back to its spot in the corner of the den.

Morgan, whose power was to turn into any animal, turned into a rabbit and started hopping on Tegan. So, Tegan made the rabbit fly up to the ceiling and made it stay there. Then the Hulk lost his balance and crashed into the Christmas tree beside the TV, sending ornaments everywhere.

Emma stopped singing and the Hulk disappeared. But the tree was on its side.

“Look what you’ve done!” rabbit Morgan yelled from the ceiling, but it came out as a series of squeaks instead of a voice.

Tegan, yelled at Emma too, “Emma, you klutz!” When she yelled she forgot about keeping the rabbit on the ceiling and Morgan fell, turning back into herself half-way down. She hit the floor and cried out, “look what you’ve done now, Tegan!”

Lots of “look what you’ve done” yells accompanied lots of anger and pain (for Morgan) and dismay for Emma.

Just then they heard their parents pull into the garage.

“DO SOMETHING—NOW!!!” all three girls said together.

So, they did.

Tegan made the tree fly up and land sitting up, if a little crooked.

Morgan turned into a robin and started flying the ornaments back on the tree, though not in the right places.

Emma sang the tree into proper, straight-up position and sang the lights and ornaments into the right places on the tree.

By the time Josh and Cathy came in the back door with bags of groceries and some presents, the TV was on normal volume, with Tegan laying on the floor, the right distance away, and Morgan and Emma were e-mailing friends on their cell phones.

“Hey, girls,” Josh yelled --he always talked too loud--“how have things been?”

“Just fine,” Morgan said, not looking up from her phone.

“Hunky Dorie,” Emma replied.

“Nothing happening at all,” Tegan said.

Cathy was taking potatoes and onions out of her bag. “Tell me why I don’t believe them?” she said to Josh.

“Because we never do?” he replied and Cathy laughed.

“The tree looks great,” Josh said, coming into the den. “Did you girls do anything to it?”

They all looked away, shaking their heads but giggling to themselves. “If only you knew…” they all wanted to say but certainly did not.

It was hard keeping their powers from their parents—especially since they loved using them so much. They used to believe they had magic glasses that gave them their powers, but Emma and Morgan, the twins, had contact lenses by then and still had powers.

Maybe the contacts were magic too. Who knew?

The next day was December 21. The girls had on line classes all morning. Their dad was practicing law on line in his room. Cathy, being a judge, had to go to court since crime doesn’t stop for the holidays or Covid.

After their classes, they let the dogs out and had snacks. Their dad came down to get some lunch and talked with them about school on-line for a while. Then he went back to his computer and the girls were bored again. But with their dad upstairs they didn’t dare use their powers, lest he discover them.

“I wonder how Eleanor is?” Emma said, into the boredom.

“I wish she’d drop in,” Morgan replied.

Eleanor’s secret power was being able to bi-locate. She could be in two places at once. That power was shared with their Bradley grand-parents’ rescue dog, Brigit. Funny how powers can be.

“Wonder if we could call Mimi and Tim and talk to Eleanor?” Tegan asked into the silence after Morgan’s statement. “Do you think Dad would let us?”

“He wouldn’t,” Morgan said, smiling slyly, “but I have a phone….”


What the Bradley girls couldn’t know as Morgan dialed Mimi’s cell phone, was that Eleanor was doing face-time with her Grandmother Bradley, something they did several times a week. This day Eleanor was singing a song she made up after playing with dolls with face masks on with her grandmother.

When Mimi answered the phone, she told Morgan she’d have to call back in a few minutes to speak to Eleanor.

When Eleanor and Grand-ma had finished their face book time, Mimi told her that her cousins had called. That was a mistake by Mimi because Eleanor thought of her cousins and bi-located to their house in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, she appeared too close to the Christmas tree and knocked it over again. Her cousins were so glad to see her that they all hugged her and then used their powers to put the tree back in place.

“Dad will think it looks even better,” Tegan said, when they were through making the tree look even more beautiful.

Their parents were going to be home soon, so they had to think quickly.

“Grandma and Grandpa are coming to my house on December 23,” Eleanor told them.

“That’s perfect,” Emma said, “we’ll find a way to meet you in North Branch that night so we can have a Christmas hug from Grandma.”

So, they made plans, including how to get Brigit to North Branch, until they heard their mom coming home.

“Think of Home, Eleanor,” Morgan said.

But Cathy was in the door and coming toward them before Eleanor could bi-locate back home. But she disappeared a moment after Cathy came in the room.

Cathy was stunned. “I thought I saw your cousin in here with you,” she said, about to be hysterical.

Morgan held up her phone. “We were just talking to her,” she told her mom.

Josh came in the room at that moment to welcome Cathy home.

“You can’t make phone calls without asking us first,” he said. Cathy just looked blankly around the room.


Back in North Branch, Mimi found Eleanor in her bedroom.

“Your cousins didn’t call back,” she told her.

“That’s o.k.,” Eleanor answered, “I just talked to them.”

Mimi found Tim in the kitchen working on dinner. “Something is very odd about Eleanor and her cousins,” she said. “I just don’t get it.”

“Carrots or potatoes with the pork chops?” Tim asked.


So, the plan had been made. Eleanor would bi-locate and find Brigit and then come to Baltimore with the dog, and all of them would get to North Bend, NY, to meet up with their grandmother on the day before Christmas Eve.

What could go wrong?


Here it was, the day before Christmas Eve. Eleanor knew her grandparents were already on their way to her house. She settled down for a nap, but bi-located just before she fell asleep, leaving her ‘at home’ Eleanor sleeping.

She had thought of Brigit and found herself at a kennel in the cage with the dog. Brigit was excited to see her, the problem was a cheerful young woman with red hair was opening the cage to take Brigit for a walk just as Eleanor appeared.

“Who are you and where did you come from?” the young woman said to Eleanor, clearly confused.

“I’m Eleanor,” Eleanor said, “and I came for Brigit’s double.”

Just as she said that, she wrapped her arms around Brigit’s neck and thought of her cousins.

Suddenly, Brigit’s double was the only one in the cage.

The young woman fainted and fell to the floor.

Her father, who owned the kennel, heard her fall and raced to her side. He found her beside the cage door with ‘stay put’ Brigit licking her face.

After he revived her, he asked, “What happened?”

“I must be hallucinating,” the girl said, “I could have sworn a little girl was in the cage with Brigit. I need some time off….”

Her father sent her to a room they had with a cot in it. “Get some rest,” he said, “I’ll take Brigit on her walk.”

And he did.


The cousins were all in Tegan’s attic room, pretending to have colds. Their parents were going to visit Cathy’s parents and the girls didn’t want to go, much preferring the trip to North Branch. They were fake sneezing and blowing their perfectly dry noses when Eleanor and Brigit appeared in their midst.

“Something bad happened,” Eleanor said. “A woman saw me when I went to get Brigit.”

All the girls were horrified. They had kept their powers secret in the world—except for their Grandma and Santa Claus in an earlier adventure.

They began to understand that ‘lots’ could go wrong with their plan.

Just then they heard their father coming up the stairs—another ‘bad thing’ about to happen. Emma sang Eleanor and Brigit into invisibility just as Josh came to the top of the stairs.

“So, you girls aren’t going with us?” he asked. Then he said, “Emma, stop singing….”

“I can’t,” she said and started singing again. But in the moment when she stopped, Eleanor and Brigit were back in the room.

Josh’s jaw dropped open. He remembered Cathy telling him about thinking she saw Eleanor. He had laughed at her story, but he wasn’t laughing now.

“What the….Where did….How on….I’m seeing things?” he stammered. Dumbfounded. Not very eloquent language from a lawyer.

He rushed over to where he thought he had seen the illusion. When he looked on the floor he saw a few of what he thought were Brigit’s fur.

He looked at his daughters in total confusion and turned to go back down the stairs to the attic.

“We’ll be back before nine,” he said, still shaking his head. “There’s a pizza in the kitchen for you.”

In the car on the way to Cathy’s parents house, he looked at her and she was driving and said, “something weird happened to me….”

Cathy said, “tell me about it.”

And he did.

The girls woofed down the pizza and prepared to leave for North Branch. The next thing was about to go wrong.

When Eleanor thought of her parents, she thought about them in their apartment in Manhattan. So, when everyone held hands with Eleanor in the middle and Tegan holding on to Brigit’s collar, they ended up in an apartment in New York City—an empty apartment, no people there.

“What went wrong?” Morgan said as they all looked around in surprise and Brigit whined a bit.

“You thought about the wrong thing,” Emma said.

Tegan was looking out the window. “This is a big city,” she commented, “not somewhere in up-state New York.”

“My fault,” said Eleanor, “hold hands again”, and she thought of Tim and Mimi in their country home.

The only problem was, Tegan didn’t touch anyone though she was holding Brigit’s collar.

Three girls appeared in the middle of the front room in North Branch—Emma, Morgan and Eleanor.

Mimi was looking out the window of that room and turned around to see three girls, knowing Eleanor was upstairs in bed.

Mimi literally gasped and heard Emma say, “oops” just before the three girls disappeared again to be back in the apartment in Manhattan.

Mimi’s parents were in the yard with Tim, carrying in the doll house Bern had carefully assembled back in Cheshire. Mimi felt light-headed as they came in the kitchen door with the house.

“You’re not going to believe me,” she said, and then told them what she’d seen.

Tim ran upstairs and called down, “she’s just waking up, she’s here!”

Mimi said, “I must be crazy!”

Bern was torn apart between keeping her granddaughter’s secret a secret and comforting her daughter.

Tim came down, carrying ‘stay at home’ Eleanor, half-awake, half-asleep.

Josh and Cathy had, by that time, gotten to her parents’ house. Cathy had been processing what Josh had told her, comparing it to her own experience and after giving her parents’ their presents, she told them they would miss dinner because they had to go home to deal with ‘a problem’.

Meanwhile, Tegan and Brigit in tow, Eleanor brought them all back to the front yard of the house in North Branch, not wanting to have anyone see them in the house.

It was very cold, so Morgan turned into a small dragon and laid on the lawn. Emma and Tegan and Brigit leaned against her warm side while Eleanor went in to get their grandmother. But when she walked into the room, there was stay-at-home Eleanor with Tim and Mimi and Jim and Bern

So, the worst thing that could go wrong, went wrong.

Eleanor quickly joined with her bi-location twin, but everyone in the room was panicking and yelling except Eleanor and her grandmother. And if that was not enough, the phone was ringing off the hook.

Josh and Cathy had arrived home to a house empty of girls and were calling Tim and Mimi to share their terror.

Tim answered the phone and was stammering into it when Bern came and took the receiver from him. Josh and Cathy were both on the phone and Josh’s mother said, calmly, there are some things you need to know….”

Mimi had looked out the window by then and saw a small dragon with Emma, Tegan and Brigit. She screamed in fright and incomprehension.

“Go to your kitchen and wait for something unbelievable,” then she hung up and said, “Eleanor, go get Josh and Cathy, now!”

Suddenly Eleanor was in a kitchen in Baltimore. Josh and Cathy nearly fainted.

Cathy said, “What? What? What is going on?”

Josh said, “I need a beer,” and took a six pack from the refrigerator.

Eleanor said, calmly, “take my hands and you’ll understand.”

In a flash, all of them were in North Branch.

Everyone rushed out into the front yard, where there was still some snow and all but Bern and Eleanor nearly lost their minds at seeing a dragon.

Morgan turned back into herself. “I was just keeping them warm,” she said, a girl again.

Everyone went inside. Josh and Tim had two of the beers Josh had bought. Mimi, Jim and Cathy had wine. Bern and the girls, talking over each other, explained to everyone about their powers.

After an hour or so, the adults searched each other’s faces.

“Well,” Bern finally said, “we’re all together for an early Covid Christmas.”

And they were and had a grand time in ways they neither understood or could comprehend.








(They won’t be with us for Christmas, except in this story and in our dreams.)

Love and merry, merry….



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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.