The Gingerbread House - Conclusion

As he moved closer to investigate, Jeremy’s suspicions were confirmed. There most certainly was smoke rising from the tiny gingerbread chimney. And it smelled like smoke! Jeremy’s eyes grew wider the closer he got. The frosting that crept up the base of the house looked like real snow! It glistened as the tiny crystalline flakes caught the warm golden light shining from the tiny windows, which were no longer solid gingerbread, but real glass.

Now Jeremy thought he could hear voices – little, tiny voices, but real voices! – coming from the gingerbread house. It sounded an awful lot like his mother and father, Jeremy thought. As he snuck up to the table, he peered through the wavy glass; the one gingerbread room was just like the room where he was standing!
In the corner furthest from the window Jeremy looked through, there was a table just like the one under his nose. And to the right of it, just as in his own house, there was the kitchen! And far behind the little gingerbread table stood the Christmas tree, in front of a small, crackling fire. And the voices of his parents were clearly audible from two tiny figures standing in front of the tree. They were talking about their children.

“Howard, Jeremy loves his manger!” the tiny Carol said.
“I loved helping him make it. But he’s getting so big, I can’t believe he’s already nine years-old. Pretty soon he’ll be out with his friends instead of here with us, and asking us to give him the car keys instead of to play catch…”

“You can’t think like that, Howard! He loves you, and he loves spending time with you. You just have to make the time to be with him, no matter what. Like today – what if you’d stayed at the office to finish that silly year-end report?” Carol posited. Howard paused and contemplated, frowning.
“I probably would have gotten that promotion…”
“...but you wouldn’t have these Christmas memories with your family.” Carol plucked the small wooden manger from the tree and held it delicately in the palm of her hand, extending it toward Howard who looked up from sweeping soot into a small pail. Jeremy’s eyes welled with the recollection that he’d broken it to pieces just a few minutes before, and a single tear fell when he blinked.

The tiny Harold set the wrought iron broom back on its hook and paused, looking at his dirty, battered moccasins in the light of the dying fire. He raised misty eyes to his wife as he stepped over a large box, papered with light blue snowmen – Jeremy had picked that wrapping paper because the snowmen reminded him of his father, with their red scarves and brown striped caps. Harold wrapped her up in his arms, “You are my Christmas Carol.” She began to hum “Deck the Halls.” They both laughed, and he joined her, singing aloud.

"Shhh,” Carol said. “We’ll wake the children.” They smiled at one another; Howard took the manger from Carol’s hand and perched it high up the tree. He stood back, examined it, and replaced it about half-way down. Carol looked at him, confused. Then she smiled, the reason dawning on her. It was now sitting just about Jeremy’s height.

Jeremy stood back from the gingerbread house. The light emanating from it was beginning to dim as the fire inside it cooled. He walked backward into the kitchen, still not sure what to make of what he’d seen. Then he noticed that the light from his father’s study down the hall had gone out. The house was silent.

Jeremy went to the bottom drawer next to the sink and pulled out a small bottle of Elmer’s glue. He stole over to the hearth, where the fire was nearly extinguished. He brushed the pieces of his manger ornament onto the edge of his robe and picked up the corner, carrying the remnants carefully to the kitchen floor. He dumped them gently down and began to reassemble the beloved ornament he had almost kicked into the fire and lost forever.

When he was done, Jeremy looked up at the gingerbread house; it was gingerbread again. The snow was once again frosting, and there was neither smoke nor light. He sighed and took the manger ornament over to the tree, balancing it gently among the branches. He glanced back at the darkened gingerbread house, then turned, tip-toeing upstairs.

As he lay in bed, trying to sleep, Jeremy wondered how he could explain to his parents what had happened, if they could believe him. Somehow, he thought, they would. He thought of the warm gingerbread smell, and he thought he could almost smell it once again as he drifted off to sleep.

No comments: