It had survived four moves, one of them clear across Canada.
It had survived a tumble all the way down the basement stairs one year, somehow safe in its protective packaging of cardboard box and crumpled old newspaper.
It had even survived the passage of time, as the young girl who made the decoration so many years before was now easily as old as her mother might have been back when she had made it for her as a seasonal arts and crafts school project.
It was then almost as if in a slow motion nightmare when Andy lifted the little clothespin Nutcracker soldier up off the kitchen counter to admire it, and in that simple process somehow banged it into the corner of a cabinet. Banged it hard enough to loosen the hand-painted head and fuzzy little black helmet. Harder than that, truth be told, as both of those parts tumbled off the counter and onto the floor.
It was not so much in slow motion when immediately after that his panic spread from oh-oh! to OH MY GOD!!
Gathering the fragments of the poor little figurine onto the kitchen table, Andy prayed that the particular brand of Krazy Glue he had in the workshop drawer worked with wood and whatever unidentifiable artificial product the tiny head had been made from.
It appeared so, as a generous application worked very well with not only those pieces, but also with his thumb, index and pinky fingers. Andy’s left hand looked like one of those little grappling hooks that you see in the vending machines placed in restaurants and bars everywhere, in which you try and lift a 37-cent plush toy that has been greased with Vaseline for several twoonies at a time, until you give up and just buy your child one for $40 at the closest department store.
Andy knows now that there is actually a product you can buy, brilliantly located right beside the Krazy Glue tubes themselves, that removes that aggressive brand of finger cement quickly and painlessly. At the time though, and in that narrow window between repair of cherished heirloom and return of Ellen from work, he had to rely on the internet to determine how he might separate his sturdily connected digits.
The slight delay in retrieving that information came from having sealed together the fingers of his left hand, the one that he finds most helpful…what with being left-handed and all.
Andy pecked away at the computer keyboard with his right index finger, waving the left hand a bit to fight off the cramp that was starting to tingle a bit more than he would have liked it to.
The most common cure for his current condition arising from a quick Google search was nail polish remover, and as relieved as Andy was to see that simple, everyday household product as his remedy, he also paused and thought about when might have been the last time he had seen his wife wear nail polish. There wasn’t a single time that came to mind.
But rifling through the medicine cabinet, Andy couldn’t believe his luck! They did have a bottle, and dusty as it might have been, he couldn’t get that cap off fast enough, and dribbled the sweet liquid of freedom over his fingers.
What Andy apparently hadn’t read on the website was that you needed to have a nail polish remover with acetone, not a product that had clearly been manufactured by some well-meaning saviour of the environment that had never glued his fingers together by accident with instant finger sealer.
Resorting to his last and most typical solution, Andy gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and pulled the fingers apart as fast as he could.
The one thing they had plenty of in the medicine cabinet was bandages, and after he suppressed the bleeding, Andy finally had a chance to admire his repair job. He hung the ornament on the tree and stood back to soak it all in.
That little Nutcracker soldier looked as fit as a fiddle, good as new. John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) started playing on the radio. “A very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fears.”