Like most decisions, it was made quickly and without any sense of ramifications.
Fast forward three hours.
The air is filled with the sound of Christmas music, and the smell of baking cookies. Candlelight casts warmth across a room full of familiar faces.
Down the hall, five adorable children under five-years-old are bouncing on our bed, tickling one another, diving under a pile of coats, and hiding beneath a bundle of lily-white pillows. Limbs are flying. Laughter explodes. Their parents peer from the living room disapproving.
“It’s spithy!” Edward says.
His lips and cheeks are streaked red. His fingers are sticky. A stream of pink, syrupy saliva trickles from the corner of his smiling mouth. Seconds later, the peppermint stick falls to the parquet floor and shatters into a thousand tiny, red-and-white candy shards.
Across the living room, Ethan dips his entire fist into a paper cup of milk, licks his candy cane clean, and repeats.
Our 750 square foot apartment crackles with manic, sugar-fueled, childhood energy: running, giggling, leaping and wrestling. It is unbridled, unmanageable, unyielding. A full glass of red wine topples, shatters, and explodes on the sisal rug. For an instant, the action pauses, then resumes.
Bing Crosby and David Bowie croon from the stereo.
I pray my wish will come true
For my child and your child too
He’ll see the day of glory
See the day when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again
I flash back to the kitchen, where Abbi stood on her tip toes, reached for the top shelf, and pulled down a blue, red-and-white tin of King Leo Candy Sticks.
“Should we put these candy canes out for the party?”
Pure Sugar, Corn Syrup, Pure Peppermint Oil, FD&C Red #40.
“Sure,” I reply. “What’s the harm?”
Apparently, I have a lot to learn about parenting.