Homemade Biscuits

2 cups of flour, sifted 1 tablespoon of baking powder ½ teaspoon of salt 1 ½ sticks of butter, chilled ½ cup of half and half

The scent of biscuits baking in an oven fills a kitchen. It's a heady smell that can remind people of their childhood. Of snowy days and homemade soup that leaves trails of steam on the range hood. It's the smell of winter mornings right before the holidays, when coffee smells like cinnamon and pine trees stand in living rooms. It's summer mornings when the sunlight is just beginning to warm the night air and promise hangs in the mist over the grass.

No matter how advanced we are the easiest way to bake biscuits is the old- fashioned way. The recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are simple, but there is a knack to making them. Too much mixing and the dough becomes heavy. The biscuits sit like too heavy pancakes on the baking sheet. Not enough mixing and the biscuits crumble before the butter has a chance to melt. But if you're lucky, and have just the right touch, the biscuits are light and they remind you of an easier time in your life when things are just about perfect.

It's early in the morning when she is woken up by a light tapping on her bare back. She'd been woken up this way before so she's not alarmed. Instead, she smiled as the tapping took on a distinct rhythm. "Jingle Bells again?" she asked sleepily. "It's barely November." She rolled over to study her husband.

He smiled at her and waved to her with their son's foot. It was that chubby appendage that had been tapping on her back. "He's a baby, Mac. He's bound to be excited about Christmas." Carefully, he eased on to the bed and placed the baby between them.

She shot him a baleful glare as she rolled on to her side. "He's eight months old, Harm." She mimicked his tone as she reached out to tickle Jacob's belly. "He only recently figured out how to hold his head up."

Jacob chortled under his mother's fingers. He grabbed his foot and proceeded to de-sock it while his parents talked.

"Mac, have I not told you what miraculous baby we have? Give the kid a break, it's his first Christmas."

She smiled down at the baby trying to swallow his toes. "Yeah, he's pretty special," she agreed. She turned her smile to him and he could feel a ridiculous grin spread across his face. Reaching up she pinched him lightly on the cheek before pushing herself up to rest against the headboard. "You know who's really looking forward to his first Christmas?" she asked softly, as she attempted to put the sock back on her son's foot.

"He's only going to pull it off again in a few minutes," he pointed out. Then he sighed with mock exasperation and gestured to the baby. "Didn't I just say he was?"

"No," she shook her head, "I meant you."

He was quiet for a minute as he considered her words. He sighed a little, this time pensively, and turned his head away for minute to study the rapidly baring trees outside the window. "Actually, that's not true," he corrected. "I looked forward to Christmas last year, you know."

"Yes," she agreed softly, "I know." Right before Christmas last year the doctor had informed them they were having a boy. He had piled presents under the tree for a child that wouldn't be born for two months and wouldn't be old enough to appreciate them for over a year. She hadn't stopped him; instead, she enjoyed his enthusiasm. Every once in a while, she even gave into his holiday-induced madness.

"It's hard to explain," he attempted to explain while watching his wife patiently put the baby's other sock back on his foot. The only word he could think of that explained everything, clearly and succinctly, was relativity. When he was a boy, things that seemed so huge were actually quite small. Hills that proved daunting to his bicycle prowess; trees that he and his friends climbed; they just looked immense in his mind. He's noticed that words change their meanings over time, too. Like the word forever. When he was a child, the word forever robbed him of his father. How long will daddy be gone? Forever. As a young man, it was the word that kept him from assuming the pilot's position in the cockpit. How long will my eyes be like this? Forever. But now, watching on as Jacob decided that his mother's stomach was a great place to play the bongos, forever didn't seem like nearly enough time.

Christmas, too, has become a relative concept in his mind. As a small child, the days he can barely remember, Christmas meant brightly colored wrapping paper, trees so big they seemed to fill the room, and boxes of toys meant just for him. After six, it marked the anniversary of his father's disappearance. As an adult, surrounded by friends and a makeshift family, it became a bittersweet experience. But last year, after not even a full year of marriage and with a child on the way, he remembered why he loved Christmas as a five year old. Why the scent of baking cookies was magical and why people wished so hard for snow.

"You don't have to explain," she said. "I know." Tilting her head up, she placed a soft kiss on his cheek. She rested her head against his shoulder before smiling up at him impishly. "If you're this bad now, what are you going to be like if we have another kid? What will you do if you have a daughter?"

His shoulder jerked under her head and she patted his leg consolingly. "Relax, it was a hypothetical. Not a subtle way of telling you about another one."

"I wouldn't mind another one," he admitted.

"Neither would I," she smiled. "Just not while Jake's so young." Her stomach growled and she slapped a hand down on his leg. "I'm hungry. It's your turn to make breakfast." Scooping Jacob up into her arms, she climbed out of bed.

"I made it last weekend," he lied, praying she'd forget. He didn't have an aversion to making breakfast, he'd just much rather watch her and that was hard to do while he was cooking.

"You did not," she called from the bathroom, although it was garbled because of the toothbrush in her mouth. She walked back into the room; baby on her hip and toothbrush in her other hand. "I did and you bitc - complained the whole morning because of what I made."

"Well, really, Mac. Bacon?" He defended himself.

"Aha!" She pointed her toothbrush at him in triumph.

"Give me the baby." He held his arms out as she passed Jacob to him. "Finish brushing your teeth. You look like you have rabies."

"Sore loser," she muttered.

"I heard that."

"You were supposed to." She squealed as he swatted at her backside and dashed into the bathroom. When she emerged, he was playing peek-a-boo with Jacob on the edge of the bed. Sometimes, when she steps back to observe her life, it amazes her that she's gotten this far. It had taken her years longer than most people, but she'd finally found her place in the world. It shocked her when she finally realized that her place didn't depend on location but upon the people in it. The past year and a half hadn't been perfect. They were both too strong willed and too self-reliant to be a perfect mesh, but they were working through the troubling spots. Demons of yesterday and specters from the past lacked the potency they once possessed. Maybe, she decided, perfect depended on the people using it as a yardstick.

"God, I love you," she said walking over to the bed. Reaching down, she circled her arms around his neck. "Both of you."

"We love you, too. Don't we, Jake?" He patted her arms and placed a light kiss on the inside of her wrist. "What brought this on?"

"Nothing," she sang. "Just thinking about how much I love you." She stood up. "I'll make you a deal. We can go Christmas shopping for you know who if you make breakfast." As if to sweeten the deal, she added, "I'll even let you pick out age inappropriate toys that will have to gather dust until he's old enough to play with them."

He looked up from his game. He had been eyeing model planes the other day when she dragged him to the mall. "Deal." He rose and planted a kiss on her smiling mouth. "I'll even make biscuits." He handed her the baby.

Her smile widened in appreciation and she followed him into the kitchen. He had a knack for making them. The End