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Christmas Cookies MAG
It was December 24, and little Mario sure was happy. All he would ever talk about anymore was how Santa was comin' tonight. Every time he said that, I would roll my eyes and shake my head, but then Mario would look up at me with big, brown, innocent eyes. "Whaddza matter, Tony, you don't believe in Santa Claus no more?" I had a strong urge to shake him and tell him there was no Santa, but Ma gave me a "Don't you do it Tony, or you'll be grounded for two weeks" look.
Instead, I just mumbled, "Yeah, yeah, Santa's comin' tonight. Oh, boy." I think Mario could tell the sarcasm in my voice because he would give me a hurt look and say proudly, "You'll see!" I'm waitin' up for Sanna Claus tonight!"
Later that night, when Aunt Angela and Uncle John came over, Mario came sliding down the stairs on his stomach. Dressed in his Ghostbusters pajamas and carrying his blanket, he leaped into their arms, telling them how Santa was comin' to our house tonight. Then, he proceeded to show them the plate of food he'd left for Santa. He showed them the Christmas cookies and the milk in the reindeer glass. Mario had even set aside some carrot sticks and water for the reindeer, with a big apple for Prancer, his favorite.
After they had talked with Mario for a while, my aunt and uncle turned to me and asked how I was. I said that I was fine, but Mario had to answer for me. "Tony's got a new girlfriend!" Mario mimicked, grinning. Angela and John oohed and aahed about this, while I turned bright red, trying to remain polite. I glanced at Mario and he sat there snickering, knowing he'd embarrassed me.
Finally, Angela and John left, leaving just Ma and Mario and me. Ma said it was somebody's bedtime, and Mario sighed. She carried Mario up the stairs slowly, stroking his blondish-brown hair. Mario snuggled his head into Ma's shoulder and wrapped his arms tighter. When they got to Mario's room, Ma gently put him down, and Mario tumbled into bed. Ma said, "Sleep tight, honey."
"How, mommy? What da ya mean tight?"
"Oh, just go to bed, you monster!" replied Mom. "Santa won't come unless you go to sleep!" she added. Mario seemed temporarily convinced, so Ma shut the door. As she walked by my room, I watched her go downstairs. I wondered when she was going to eat the cookies.
Just then, Mario came into my room and announced, "I'm going down to see Sanna Claus!" I could hear Ma crunching the carrot sticks loudly downstairs.
Desperate, I blubbered, "It isn't late enough. Santa only comes real late."
"It is real late," he replied, dissatisfied. "The big hand's on the ten and little hand's on the nine. I've never been up this late before!" With that, he stomped halfway down the stairs. A sickly silence followed, a silence sharp enough to cut glass. I peered around the corner and looked at his shaking, tiny body. He looked as if he was holding his breath, and appeared limp and sick. Mario turned around and I darted back to my room.
When he appeared in my doorway, he was shaking and crying softly. "Tony, why's Mom eatin' all of Sanna's cookies and stuff?" he managed to squeak. Before I could answer, he added meekly, "There ain't no Sanna Claus, is there?" I got up and gave him a big hug.
"No, there isn't, Mario. Santa Claus is just a silly tradition that grown-ups do for us." He nodded slowly, believing every word I said. I couldn't believe how much he'd grown up. I realized I couldn't let him pass me by, and I had to watch him grow up or I'd miss it. Mario wasn't so much of my little brother anymore.
"Tony? Does that mean there's no Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny either?" he asked thoughtfully. I paused carefully.
"Ahh... of course not! The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are real!" He grinned happily. "Now go to bed, sport, we'll open presents tomorrow!" I guess he was still partly my little brother, and I didn't want him to grow up too fast. n