The Val & Kit Mystery Series

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Roz Explains Why Santa Claus Was a Little Late

On Christmas Eve I was given the task of reading ’Twas the Night Before Christmas to my four-year-old grandniece Emily. The plan was that she would fall asleep and I would then join the adults for the ongoing festivities. So, snuggled beside her in the bed, I read the beloved story while Emily studied the pictures in the book to be sure I was on track. As I finally reached the last line, the very wide-awake Emily took the book from me and advised that she would now “read” it to me.

In her version things changed slightly. Turns out that as soon as Santa had his sleigh packed and ready for his round-the-world trip, several of the Disney Princesses showed up with the intention of baking him a cake. For anyone not familiar with Disney Princesses, it’s a safe bet that Cinderella did most of the cooking, since I think she’s the only one who knows her way around a kitchen.

As I got sleepier, and Emily became more energized, she moved on to the story of the Baby Jesus, complete with several songs, one of which was apparently sung by a donkey. I’m also pretty sure there were a couple of Disney Princesses in the Nativity.

But my luck held out when we heard a tapping on the bedroom door (No, Emily, it’s not Santa; it’s your daddy). My nephew took over, and as I gratefully left the room, I heard him explaining how Santa was probably in New Zealand already and would soon be on his way west to England. If the rudiments of time zones couldn’t put that child to sleep, nothing could.

Eventually, much, much later, things turned out as they should. Emily did fall asleep, and good old St. Nick turned up when he was supposed to. At least judging by the stocking at the end of her bed.

Here’s hoping everyone had a joyous Christmas, no matter what time zone they live in, and Santa is back in the North Pole taking a well-deserved break.

Roz's Grandniece Emily (Speaking of Princesses)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Making a List . . .

With Thanksgiving over, Val decides it’s time to start some serious Christmas shopping. So she enlists Kit’s help on gift ideas for everyone on her list.


Val:      It has to be something amazing, but Tom is tricky; he is literally the man who has everything.

Kit:     And yet he appears to have nothing. What does he like? 

Val:     He likes German cars.

Kit:     Who doesn’t? So are you thinking a new Mercedes?

Val:     You’re not helping, and of course not a Mercedes. Think smaller. German smaller. How about a beer stein?

Kit:     Somehow I don’t see Tom Haskins guzzling beer. Why don’t you get him tickets to the auto show?
(Hmm, not the worst idea in the world.)


Kit:     That guy is simple.

Val:     Oh good, you have an idea?

Kit:     No. I was merely pointing out that he’s simple.

Val:     What about a silk bow tie? Or a really stylish vest?

Kit:     Doesn’t he own ten thousand already? How about a Bette Midler CD? You can’t go wrong with Bette.

Val:     You might be right. I notice Perry has recently changed his ringtone to “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
(Yippee! Two presents down, and only a minimum of wrapping paper required.)


Val:     She loves Aerosmith. Let me see if they have a concert in Chicago anytime soon.

Kit:     They sing?

Val:     Yes, they sing. Rock. Maybe we should go too.

Kit:     I like Andrea Bocelli, ya know.

Val:     Not sure he’s her cup of tea.

Kit:     Speaking of tea, wanna grab some Starbucks?

Val:     Not till we finish this flippin’ list.


Val:     This should be a no-brainer—for you. You always get her better gifts than I do. Any thoughts spring to mind?

Kit:     No problem; book a cruise for her and William. Somewhere exotic; Bali, or Fiji.

Val:     Er . . . that would be a super-duper idea, Kitty Kat. But I wasn’t planning to take out a bank loan.

Kit:     What do you usually get her? A lump of coal?
(In terms of expense, she wasn’t far off.)

Val:     I think I’ll get her a foot massager.
(I could just hear my mom:  Valerie, is this one of those dangerous foot gadgets from Europe? I can’t say I’ve ever met a European whose feet I admired. Okay, I’d rethink the foot massager. Or get one made in the USA, if that was possible.)

HOW ABOUT WILLIAM STUCKEY (my mom’s husband)?

Val:     He should be a breeze. Books. Maybe a nice coffee-table book on World War II.

Kit:     He reads those things?

Val:     All the time.

Kit:     He does know the ending, right?

Val:     Yeeeeees, he knows the ending, dum-dum. He’s interested in how they got to the ending.

Kit:     Everyone knows—oh, forget it!


Val:     Done! Bicycles. One each.

Kit:     I thought you said their apartment in LA was tiny; where are they gonna put them?

Val:     Not stationary bicyles; real ones. I’ve ordered them from Sports Authority. They can hang them on the wall.

Kit:     Why don’t you get them memberships to a nice air-conditioned gym? That sounds like much more fun than cycling around California. In the outdoors. In the open air.

Val:     It’s what they want. And some people actually like being outdoors.

Kit:     In that heat? On a bicycle? It’s insane!

KIT’S PEEPS (I was going to be jealous; I just knew it.)

Val:     By the way, what did you buy your people?

Kit:     Oh, mine were easy peasy. I booked Larry into a golf clinic in Arizona for three weeks.  Of course it’s more a present for me, just to get him out of my hair for that length of time. And I bought Sam a first-class ticket to Chicago for two weeks,

Val:     So again, more a gift for you than for your son.

Kit:     Moving on. For my mother and her husband, I am sending a case of good champagne. She’s half in the bag most of the time, anyway, and after she opens the first bottle, she won’t be going anywhere, least of all to visit me. Perfect gift!

Val:     And not in the least self-serving.

Kit:     Not in any way.

Val:     So you are done.

Kit:     Not quite. I still have to get something for you, but I know what it is.

Val:     Oh, please, don’t get all extravagant on me. I can’t afford to reciprocate.

Kit:     Reciprocation has nothing to do with it. When have we ever compared expenditures on gifts to each other?
(Last Christmas I gave her a Starbucks coffee cup and a framed picture of the two of us taken outside our favorite coffee shop. She gave me a gray cashmere pashmina wrapped around a pearl choker with a diamond clasp.)

Val:     Never.
(Although since I had divorced and money was tight, I’d generally felt embarrassed at my measly gifts to her, compared to the lavish presents she gave me—most of which I never used because . . . well, because of the lavishness.)

Kit:     So prepare yourself, Valley Girl. This year I'm going all out.

Val:     Oh no . . . please don’t . . . I don’t need anything. What about a pair of gloves? I’d like that.

Kit:     Forget gloves!  No, no—although this might require wearing gloves and possibly some kind of head covering. And you should be sure your shots are up to date.

Val:     Kiiiiiiiiiiit?

Kit:     Kidding. I’m kidding.


Kit and Val:  Since your gift to us has been thankfully and humbly received all year, our gift to you and your family is a wish for peace, prosperity, and the happiest holiday season ever. Please open early and enjoy!
Roz's great-niece Emily on
Christmas morning
Patty's grandson Jackson
Patty's granddaughters Anna Lydia and Ella