Excerpt #1 from ‘The Life Makeover Club’
‘Twas the night before Christmas in the Collins’ house. The children had hung their stockings, or more accurately, their jumbo-sized Santa Sacks, over the couch with care, and Santa, er… Pete, soon would be there.
The kids were finally asleep after the excitement of Christmas Eve, and the talk-show-worthy debate about what sort of food to leave for Santa and the reindeer. Jacob brought out a plate of cookies, but Lily suggested Santa might have allergies like Toby, and perhaps they should leave out some rice milk and rice crackers instead. Jacob shook his head at this suggestion, reasoning that Santa might think they were yucky and not leave any presents, in a sign of protest. Toby didn’t contribute to the discussion, simply moving his head side to side between Jacob and Lily as they discussed the pros and cons of each option, as though he was watching Wimbledon. The final ruling decided by Pete (who would, unbeknownst to the children, be the consumer of their fare), was to have a smorgasbord so Santa could choose his preference.
As Cara kept guard by the doorway to Toby’s room, Pete, complete with his Santa hat, tiptoed out of the bedroom with the first load of presents. Pausing to peer discreetly into Lily’s room (who wouldn’t sleep with the door closed), he then locked eyes with Cara and performed a couple of strange hand signals, like a field agent, in effort to ascertain whether the coast was clear. Cara tried not to laugh, and came up with her own hand signals, while mouthing ‘Go, now!’.
Pete delivered the presents, then performed more hand signals to make sure it was safe to return to pick up the second load. He looked like a cross between someone on the Wall Street trading floor and Jack Bauer from the television show ‘24’. Cara had to cover her mouth to avoid an explosion of laughter as Pete/Santa/Jack scurried past quietly.
On his third and final delivery, after devouring a few samples from the smorgasbord, Pete tripped on a toy, waking up Bobo the dog in his kennel outside. After Bobo’s barking, the door to Lily’s room opened, and a sleepy Lily emerged, rubbing her eyes. Upon seeing his daughter, Pete’s eyes appeared to jump out of his head and he dove for cover behind the couch.
Cara approached Lily quickly, careful to act naturally, turning her away from the scene of the crime and ushering her back into her room.
‘I heard Bobo,’ Lily said before yawning. ‘Did you hear him too, is that why you’re up?’
‘Yes, but he’s fine, now you go back to sleep.’ Cara almost pushed her into bed.
‘Mum, can I check if Santa’s been yet?’
‘No, the rules are; we wait till morning, remember?’
‘Alright…’ Lily rolled over.
Cara waited outside Lily’s room until the sound of slow breathing signified her daughter was asleep again, then tiptoed to the living room. ‘Pssst! You can get up now!’ She whispered to Pete, before scampering back to her position.
Pete’s head appeared to float up from behind the couch, his eyes searching left and right to ensure his cover hadn’t been compromised. Quickly, he shoved the presents into the Santa Sacks and almost ran back to the bedroom, Cara following and closing the door soon after.
‘Phew!’ He collapsed breathlessly onto his back on the bed, Cara falling next to him, giggling. Pete raised his hand, and they high fived each other in celebration of another successful Christmas Eve mission. Pete winced and massaged his shoulder, Cara pulling back his t-shirt to reveal a bruise from his dive behind the couch.
Cara looked at her husband and made some hand signals.
‘What does that mean?’ he asked.
‘It means: I love you.’
‘So does this,’ Pete whispered, leaning closer to Cara and kissing her gently.
* * *© Copyright 2011. Juliet Madison.