The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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"How are They Going to Pull This Off?"

December 8, 2003

Listened to the show on Saturday and it was not bad. I'll confess I was a bit worried about whether there would even be a show. There were weather reports on TV when I took an occasional break to check on the meatballs or try just one more sample of the butter toffee cooling on the counter. There was snow everywhere out east, and I thought, now how are they going to pull this off? But sure enough, right at 5:00 PM our time, there was Mr. Keillor humming along with the piano. I'll tell you, I was so relieved. I had spent the entire day cleaning. I washed all the windows with Windex and swept the basement floor. I cleaned all three bathrooms, dusted everything in the house, and vacuumed up cookie crumbs and glitter and a ladybug here and there. Last of all, I got down on my hands and knees and washed the kitchen floor. I'm convinced that one's house is a blueprint of one's mind. Sometimes when Mr. Sundberg introduces me to someone he met at one of his motivational speaking events, I think to myself, I'll bet this person has a herd of dust bunnies under her bed, and I'm guessing it's been months since she shook out her rugs.

Anyway, the house was clean and the show was on and I was standing at the kitchen sink letting warm water run over my hands and thinking about those Celtic Boys of the Lough and what it would cost to get them to jump out of a cake at a birthday party when I heard a scream and the door opened and Mr. Sundberg, all three kids, and a six-foot tree exploded into the kitchen.

"Merry Christmas!" someone hollered and they all ran through the kitchen into the living room. Within minutes the tree was up and the kids sat down in a row on the couch and stared at me until I said, Oh, alright. I stood on a three-step ladder and wove strands of tiny white lights among the branches while Mr. Sundberg read the paper at the kitchen table.

It all happened so fast. Half an hour later, all the ornaments were on the tree except the three broken ones which lay in a pile on the floor among the pine needles and wet spots from snowy boots and the scattered wooden cranberries from the rope that broke when I tried to stretch the end around to the back of the tree. We plugged in the lights and stood there together for a moment and one of the kids said, "Oh, it's beautiful." They had eaten all the meatballs and were tired. Mr. Sundberg took them upstairs for a bath and I went back to work. And wouldn't you know, as I cleaned up the mess, those Boys from the Lough sang, "That Night in Bethlehem" and I thought, Well, now. And while Mr. Keillor talked about Christmas in his small town, I noticed how quiet the house had grown and how there was still glitter on the carpeting and on the green and red plaid couch and on my hands. Sparkling silver glitter.

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