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Mama Kissing Santa Claus

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Melinda is standing on her tiptoes to put a newly-gifted ornament on the tree when something crashes in the kitchen. She half-expects there will be a cry from Phil of “I’m okay!” or something of the sort, but there’s nothing.

“Daisy!” she growls, setting herself back down on flat feet.

“Yes, Mama May?” comes the young woman’s guilty voice, and Melinda’s sure it’s something terrible. She rolls her eyes and presses further.

“What just happened?”

“Nothing, Gramma!” yelps Janie, and oh, depending on what’s just been broken they are both in so much trouble. She hears Ward’s half-assed chuckle - the sign that he’d otherwise be sighing if he was willing to chance a frustrated response from his wife - and rolls her eyes, waiting to hear what transpires.

She’s distracted from her eavesdropping when Phil takes the opportunity to sneak up behind her. She doesn’t quite jump, but she startles the smallest bit when she suddenly feels his arms wrap around her waist, and growls at him.

“Cookie sheet,” he informs her. “We’ll let the kids figure it out.”

Melinda chuckles. “They’re not exactly children anymore, Phil. Even their kids are in school now.”

He shrugs and holds her tighter, pressing a kiss to her shoulder. She sighs.

“You just don’t want to help clean up.”

“Not our house, honey.”

Melinda twists herself around, just harshly enough to force him to open his arms; she’s long been used to the less agreeable grasp of the metal arm, and knows he’s not opposed to her turning and wrapping her arms around his neck to hold him close for a real kiss.

There’s shuffling in the background, and she ignores it for a few minutes, then she decides to return to decorating their tree.

She and Phil pretend not to notice the dearth of Hershey’s kiss cookies when they do inventory the following day.