The stairs groan and the lights of the Christmas tree seem to cast his shadow a little longer than normal as he slowly slips, step by step, down to where Sweeney Todd and I are having a marvelous late night sing-a-long.
I mute the movie, right in the middle of 'Not While I'm Around.' "What are you doing, Liam?"
"Mmmmm," He slides his bum down the last three stairs and comes to stand in front of me, rubbing his eyes and squinting against the overhead light. "I just have two things," he says and then holds up a finger. "First, I can't even sleep!"
"Yes, you can, Liam - you do this every night!"
"Okay, but second," he holds up another finger. "Can you take me to Walmart by myself?"
He scratches over his ear. "'Cause I just wanna buy a Christmas present for Zander and Noa."
"Oh, you sweet boy!" I say. "Come here!" And I pull him in close. "I just want to kiss your face!"
"But can you take me to Walmart?" he asks as I plant a big one beside his nose.
"Of course, we'll figure out a day, okay? You need to go to sleep now though."
One more kiss and he climbs back up the stairs while Helena sings, 'Nothing's gonna hurt you, no one's gonna dare...' and I smile at his dwindling shadow and the shuffle of his feet as he trundles off to bed - because there, deep beneath all those toads and snails and puppy dog tails is a pocket full of sugar and spice that sprinkles warm upon anyone who is patient enough to watch it slowly trickle out.