We’re fattening up again. Packing in as much Christmas as we possibly can before . . . well, before who knows what, but, at the very least, before tomorrow.

Friday afternoon, we went to visit Santa, arriving at five minutes after 5 o’clock only to discover that Santa “feeds his reindeer” between 5 and 6 (I swear, we did the same thing a few years ago). So I dragged my two boys around the mall for an hour, not an activity they’re accustomed to, bought them dinner in the food court (another activity they’re not accustomed to) and managed to check a few (painfully few) gifts off my list. Finally Santa returned and we were the first in line. Braedan marched right up and started peppering the old man with questions. “Where are your reindeer?” he asked. The poor guy looked confused and said, “My reindeer? Oh, my reindeer are in the North Pole.”

“Or . . . maybe up on the mall roof where you were just feeding them,” I said, nodding vigorously, like, “Come on, guy, get with the program.”

Austin refused to sit with him (second year in a row for that) but passed along his wishes through Braedan, who had no trouble conveying all both boys hoped to find under the tree on Christmas morning. I had to remind him on the way home that such things were suggestions only, mere ideas from which Santa could pick and choose (as in, “Yes you might get the toy leaf blower, but no, you might not get a ride-on motorcycle”).

That night, Braedan put his multi-cultural education to good use as we made a Menorah out of Play-doh and birthday candles. We’ve lit it every night, much to Austin’s delight, who shouts “I love Hanukah!”

Braedan and his Menorah

Yesterday afternoon, we went on a “train ride” which is really just a trip on the suburban transit system — which doesn’t even go underground — for all of about four miles. But, man, did they love it. You’d think they were on the TGV (which we say is “tres grand vote,” French for really, super fast). Braedan kept asking how fast it was going, hoping I would say something in the 200-miles-an-hour range.

Hold on tight!

We took it as far as Shaker Square where we ate breakfast for dinner and checked out the light display. Mark drove separately (racing alongside the train on the way) so we were able to drive home in a warm car instead of taking the return train, the luster of which is lost after waiting for twenty minutes in thirty degree weather.

Then this afternoon, we chopped down a pine tree in the backyard of our new house to use as our Christmas tree. There’s a clump of trees right smack in the middle of the yard that I want to take down since they render useless my new kitchen window specifically designed so I can see the kids as they play on the swingset. Austin insisted on wearing his helmet (you know, ever cognizant of wayward limbs falling on his head). We haven’t actually brought the tree home yet and aren’t even sure it will fit but it was fun to watch Mark saw it down.

Scoping out the scene

Better safe than sorry

Our tree!

And now, the boys are sleeping, all fattened up. We’re ready for tomorrow, strangely calm, whatever comes will come. The ultrasound is at 9, so Mark (who had saved up some vacation days we thought he’d use for the move) will bring him there and I’ll join them after dropping Braedan at school. We should be home after a few hours, although it’s unclear what information we’ll have at that time.  Jeff is at a conference and won’t be back in the hospital until Tuesday morning, but we expect the radiologist to give us some unconfirmed findings tomorrow.

We are hopeful, of course, but also realistic. We know what this thing most likely is and we know what will most likely happen as a result. But hey, stranger things have happened (most of them to Austin) so we aren’t giving up hope until we absolutely have to.

I sent a message to Austin’s teachers today letting them know he wouldn’t be at school tomorrow and received a reply that said that his classmates would “wish him well” at 9:15. This is common practice at his school: whenever someone is absent, they are wished well during morning circle time. “We wish Austin well, we wish Austin well,” the little three-year-olds will chant in singsong voices.

So tomorrow, right around 9, let’s all wish Austin well. Maybe that’s all it’ll take.