Carefully, my daughter poured over the pages of the toy catalog with her tongue sticking out.
The Sunday newspaper was spread across the coffee table. I like to read it by taking up as much space as possible. The advertisements were in a pile on my left, waiting to be moved into the "read it" pile on the right.
And my daughter leaned against my leg and strummed the stack of ads like a guitar. She did this in a nonchalant way that didn't make it seem like she was sitting on top of me blocking my view.
"Can I help you with something?" I said.
"Oh, just checking out the news," she said in an exhale.
I asked if she wanted me to read it to her. No, she said. I asked if she wanted to look at the comics. Nah, she said. She strummed the stack of ads again.
"Do you want to look at the ads?" I asked.
"Well, maybe there's something in here," she said.
"Do you want to see if there's a toy catalog?" I asked.
"Well, if you aren't using it right now," she said in a way that did not fool anyone.
We thumbed through, and sure enough, there was one. She grabbed a pencil and inched her way back on the couch. Carefully, she poured over the pages with her tongue sticking out.
She looked over one page of dolls for a long moment. Then, she shrugged and circled the whole page. She figured, this early into the Christmas season, she didn't have to make the really tough decisions yet.
There are a few mysteries I'll never solve. The first is how the little twist tie for the bread goes missing the second you take it off. Where does it go? The second is how two children can go from best friends to sworn enemies in the time it takes me to go to the kitchen for coffee.
So when I heard them yelling, I decided to put the twist tie mystery on hold and see what was going on.
They were locked in a tug-of-war for the toy catalog. It seems my daughters disagreed on which electric car they were going to circle. These are child-sized cars that give them the feel of really driving while running over all of the plants in the yard. My oldest liked the pink corvette, but her little sister liked the pink SUV.
"Why don't you circle both of them?" I said.
They looked at each other, and my oldest handed the pencil to her sister, who made a big circle on the page.
"Wow," my oldest replied. "Santa will really bring us both?"
"Oh, no," I replied. "Santa's not bringing either of you a car. But you can circle as many as you want."
"Why not?" she replied.
"They won't fit down the chimney," I said.
She thought for a moment. "You should ask Santa for a bigger chimney."
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DaveManley.