Every December, Sister Madly’s mother would spend a week baking up to 40 loaves of bread while listening to Lawrence Welk and the Mexicali Brass. A young Sister Madly would then reluctantly deliver half of this bounty with her elder sister, Tallulah, to neighbors they hardly knew- many of whom lived far beyond the acceptable distance of ‘neighbor’- while dragging a red wagon through several feet of snow.
But this tradition was not limited to neighbors.
While no child looks forward to a school day, no morning was as dreaded as the day before Winter Break, when Mother Madly handed over a loaf of bread as a gift to the bus driver. When Sister Madly first heard the term “cruel and unusual punishment,” this scenario is what came to mind.
However, the argument of which Madly Sibling (the elder Tallulah or the most magnificent Sister Madly) was to give said Bread to the Bus Diver was beans compared to the argument of whom would carry the Bottle of Champagne the following day.
The Darrow’s, you see, lived 4-doors down (Sister Madly used to play- most discreetly, of course- in the weird tar-pit thing behind their house.) And every year, the Darrow’s would gift the Madly girls a bottle of cheap Champagne in return for the annual Loaf of Bread.
For Sister Madly, this was much worse than the whole Bus Driver thing; people might actually think the Champagne belonged to her. They might think that she, a wanton, 5 year-old Moppet, had wasted every cent of her allowance on its purchase, and there was no way that she could prove otherwise. And the Champagne didn’t even come in a proper paper bag, which is how it was consumed by the Elite on the streets; no, Sister Madly’s bottle had a shiny, red bow tape to it.
Then came the horrifying thought: what if her own Mother thought that Sister Madly bought the wine for herself? Her parents had stopped drinking some years before, and the bar in the basement now held a bizarre assortment of Care Bears and Cabbage Parch Kids… if a bottle of Champagne should appear within their midst, it would bring no end of trouble….
But there was no time for this worry, as one such delivery spree found a pom-pommed Sister Madly hauling 3 Loaves of Bread all by her lonesome. Tallulah had been forgiven of all delivery obligations that evening after befriending a classmate who had the cheeky audacity to be born on that particular date some years before, and who wanted to celebrate the fact with something called a “party.”
Even at the tender age of 5, Sister Madly had anti-social tendencies; she had absolutely no desire to knock on the doors of her Bread-less Neighbors, and succumbed to a magnificent tantrum somewhere between her front door and her Neighbor’s driveway. After spending an eternity (i.e., 2-3 minutes) fussing about, Sister Madly utilized her Red Wagon in such a way that allowed her to slide the Loaf of Bread into the oversized mailbox* without a word to her long-nosed neighbors.
With her mission technically complete, Sister Madly trotted home, confident in the fact that she had rebelled against the unknown universe with her little Red Wagon and a knitted, Pompom Hat.
5 stupid hours of pointy hell later, Sister Madly’s apartment is
finally festive. She will be calling upon one of you next year to set
up this tree for her. She may even buy you a cider for your trouble.
* Re-post from 2014. Or somewhere around there.