Several years ago, EJ received and read the book, Horrible Harry and the Holidaze. I don't know how often she looks at it now, but whenever we do a purge of her bookcase, I assume that little book will be put in the donate pile, but it's a sticky one for her, and she doesn't let it go.
I like a girl who likes a tattered old book, I have to admit.
Fast forward to this Sunday night, when we were all bundled up in our home, errands run, school (finally) cancelled for the next day, ready to face the polar vortex deep freeze descending on Chicago. At bedtime, EJ let us know that she was getting her slippers to leave at the doors—one at the front door, one at the back—so that the three kings and their camels could come leave her candy.
Candy? What candy? That kid was just given tons of candy in her stocking, and she's seen every single thing brought into this house for our big freeze stock-up. What candy could "the kings" possibly leave her with now, in our shut-in house? CRUD.
In pantry-desperation mode, I countered, "EJ, that's not really a tradition that we celebrate."
EJ: "I know, but I've read about it in my 'Horrible Harry' book. It works."
Me: "Yeah, but that's not something that we do. Our family, you know, we don't celebrate three kings day. That book is about everyone learning about each others' traditions, we don't all adopt every one."
EJ: "Got it. This isn't something we do. But I'm going to do it. It's my tradition—I leave out some walnuts and a bucket of water for the camels, and I get candy in my shoes. I might as well, try, right?"
Sigh. Stupid teaching her to be someone who tries new things and takes chances. Stupid, stupid parenting. But I like a girl who starts traditions, too, so we scrambled.
We convinced her that a clementine would be sufficient for walnuts + water, and put her to bed. Then, in an act of what may be called "practicality" by some, "incredible motherly martyrdom" by others, I went into the secret stash of peppermint dark chocolate truffles that Mike had given me, that I had hidden away before my chocolate-mint loving daughter could see, and left a couple in each slipper. I then put the slippers up, because I was not going to allow old-lady dog, Ada, to eat them, get sick, and make the whole "new tradition," a lose-lose-lose.
The next morning, I was awoken early to pleadings, "Mom, my slippers are missing!" I advised her to look up, that the kings and camels probably put the slippers up where Ada couldn't get her goodies, and she went on the hunt.
"I found them, Mom! It worked! I said it would."
By the time I woke up in earnest, the truffles were gone, with their empty red and white striped wrappers left on the coffee table to tease me. I realized that now, I could only pull out those truffles when she was asleep if I wanted to magic of her tradition to continue. Blurgh. No one likes limited truffle hours. Of course, this restriction made me want one right then and there, and throughout the rest of the snow day we spent together.
When I groggily asked her what she'd received, she said, "Oh, some peppermint chocolates. They're gone now. They were GOOD. What's for breakfast?"
Mike was already in the kitchen making oatmeal, but in my mind, I thought, "You can have my half-eaten camel clementine, kid. It wasn't a very good one, so the 'camels' rejected it after a few slices, and it certainly wasn't as good as chocolate peppermint truffles."