There was Paul and there was Kay. Little Kay was a very active child, and little Paul a very pensive one, and they were both very good around Christmas time - but they were still Paul and Kay.
You sometimes had to tell Paul which boxes were his, because he might not get near enough to check labels. After being told, he would sit quietly on the floor in front of the wrapped gifts and try to imagine what was inside each one.
When they told Kay Christmas cake was coming, she skipped and drummed with a spoon on the edge of the cabinet.
Paul asked what kind of cake. They told him it had a Christmas tree on top. This was a mistake. You can just picture what he imagined; it was downright magical. In his mind's eye Paul clearly saw the sparkling drum-shaped cake, about four feet across; rearing up from its center, ten feet of swaying pine branches covered with blazing lights and toy soldiers and an announcing angel in gold on the very peak of the tree.
What he got was a sheet cake with a smudge of green frosting in a flat triangle.
Kay ate two pieces. Paul ate half of one.
I think the adult relatives have almost agreed that Kay and Paul draw even. They made this decision on Christmas morning, three thirty a.m.
Kay came right down the stair into the front room and stood watching weary adult gift-bearers until they became aware of her presence and lifted her bodily out of the way.
But Paul; well, he was coming down too - the temptation was just as great... He knew he shouldn't look... He didn't want to see until the very last second. He had his eyes closed as he was climbing down the stairs, and he was only a third down when he missed his footing.
When they picked him up at the bottom of the stairs he closed his eyes tight again. But they let him see anyway... After all, Kay had already been there.
A Christmas tree with all the gifts is especially marvelous at three thirty a.m. If adults don't know this, it's because they haven't rattled all the boxes or fallen down a staircase with their eyes shut.