Dan’s Second Christmas

Pro tip: When the baby is crawling and you put up a tree, don’t put glass ornaments within baby’s reach.

My brother Dan was a climber. Mom found him on top of the refrigerator and had no idea how he was able to climb up there. At about eight months, Dan learned to crawl, then went straight to walking and climbing.

About seven months before Dan was born, Mom was having horrendous migraines, was put in the hospital, and put on morphine. When the doctor did a pregnancy test and it came back positive, she was taken off the morphine immediately, but they had no idea if there would be birth defects.

Dan was born with a stomach ulcer. Later it was discovered he had an issue with his legs that required braces for several years. But back to the ulcer …

Dan was put on solid food earlier than most kids. Because of the ulcer he was ravenous all the time. He would sneek pork chop bones from the garbage — he loved the smell of garbage — and stash the bones under seat cushions so he could gnaw on them later.

My first Christmas rolled around and, with Scott’s help, mom put up the Christmas tree. When it was finished, I guess it was time to feed me or put me down for a nap. When mom came back to the living room, she saw blood coming from Dan’s mouth. He had been eating the glass ornaments. While mom dealt with Dan, she had Scott take all the ornaments off the tree. With Dan being a climber, they couldn’t risk him climbing the tree to get the higher ornaments.

Mom decided if they couldn’t have glass ornaments,  she’d bake an decorate cookies for the tree. If Dan nibbled on cookies, no biggie. With Scott’s help, mom baked and decorated 12 dozen cookies.

Scott and mom redecorated the tree. All the trimming and untrimming made the tree a little off kilter, so while Scott held the tree, mom loosened the tree from the base. She made some adjustments, but to make sure the tree was straight, she stepped back to look. “Oh, it’s beautiful!” she said.

Scott let go of the tree, stepping back so he could take a look, too. Aaaaand the tree fell over, smashing all the cookies.

Dan ran around, gobbling up cookies or stashing some in his pockets. Mom and Scott went back to the kitchen to bake and decorate another 12 dozen cookies. By the time dad came home from work, only dad and Dan were hungry.

When it was time to take the tree down, all the ornaments around the bottom of the three and many further up had bite marks, were missing parts, or were almost completely eaten.

This is the way I like to think of mom, dad, Scott, and Dan now as this Christmas approaches.

I love and miss y’all. Always.

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