Fuss and Muss

Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

A few days ago, my daughter descended the stairs and declared that her new name was “The Fuss and the Muss.” She then went on to explain that she was “The Fuss,” and her bunny, “Bunny” was “The Muss.” They would live in “The Fuss and Muss Lair” behind the Christmas tree.

I had been grumpy about getting the Christmas tree. In fact, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the “fuss and muss” brought on by the holidays. All I could see was the pine needles on the carpet, the dusty box of ornaments we dragged in from the garage, the tangle of tiny, silver hooks, tangled strands of lights and last year’s crushed candy canes. I’d lobbied hard to go without a tree this year. Or at the least get a very tiny one.

It’s not that I’m a complete Scrooge, it’s just that we are travelling and it seems silly to go through all the fuss and muss when it’s not going to be up for that long.

My plan to pick up branches from trees knocked down in the windstorm was met with incredulous eye rolls from my children. Even my husband wondered which prairie I’d chosen for my little house. The thought of no tree (or even a slightly smaller tree) squeezed tears from my sturdy son. And so I caved to the fuss and the muss of the holiday. Paper and tape and boxes and pine needles and gift lists and grocery lists and on and on and on…

I think my daughter has triumphed over the fuss and the muss. By dubbing herself “The Fuss and the Muss,” she has assumed all the power. Nothing will be fussier or mussier than she. (And sometimes this is true.) She has also made a kind of order out of the Fuss and the Muss. In the lair behind the Christmas tree, she performs shadow puppet shows that are silent and beautiful. Her small hands move in the light, casting only slightly larger shadows on the wall. A dog chases a bunny until suddenly the show ends. “Cut the lights,” she says. “Cut the direction. Cut the action.”
It’s the holiday season and The Fuss in the Muss is in control. And she puts the light in my heart.

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