May God rest ME, merry gentlemen!
I may have mentioned that the days between Halloween and New Year’s are my favorite time of year, especially this little stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas. However, speaking as a parent, I am betting that if your home contains any children under the age of 20, life around now is just a big bowl of chaos. And, as the 25th approaches, the havoc will rise until you are spending Christmas Day hiding under your computer desk, chugging Jack Daniels-spiked eggnog, behind a big frozen turkey you forgot to defrost ... not that I ever did that.
But, really, this time of year is all about the children … the thrill on their faces, the awe and wonder in their eyes, the adorable way they hurl your newly decorated Christmas cookies at each other during that dandy candy-cane sugar high … yes, that is what’s important, my friend.
It’s about hiding a scooter, a trampoline, a life-size dollhouse, and a turtle, from kids who suddenly have the uncanny ability to morph into a liquid and slither through locked, chained, and barred doors. So, eventually, you will tell them that Santa wears a “peeking” beeper, and that if any children see their presents before the big day, he will get beeped and go into cardiac arrest and there will be no Christmas. Trust me, it scares the fruitcake out of them, which is a good tool during the holiday season.
(One year, my children were so savagely persistent I finally climbed up and threw their unwrapped gifts down from the attic. Then, I pulled the steps up behind me and sat in the rafters all day, remembering when they were tiny and had that new-baby smell and would never have thought of peeking at their presents because all they really wanted was a good box lid to chew on. Those were the days.)
It’s about taking the whole family merrily off to buy the tree at the Methodist church (and you’re not even Methodist, but Methodists don’t seem to charge as much as Catholics and Presbyterians) and then everybody wants a different tree, but of course mother rules, so they sulk all the way home and nobody wants to decorate “such a stinky, cruddy tree.” But, you haul it inside and jam it into the tree stand to find that it’s 6 inches too tall and you’ll have to climb up on the kitchen stool and hack at it with your only good steak knife. And, by the time you double-check last year’s lights to find that not even ONE strand is working, you warn the sulkers that after you get the non-working lights on the hacked-up, stinky tree, everyone better get their behinds to trimming or there will be NO PEACE ON EARTH!
Christmas is also about visiting Santa at the mall. (Can I just ask, why can’t Santa come to the gas station or the post office, the grocery store or the bank? These are the places we spend our days, and it would be so much more convenient. Plus, the last thing you want to do right now is take small children to a crowded mall, where they can’t be allowed to see most of the stuff you buy, and they’ll grow tired and whiny, or heaven forbid, discover and desire the only thing you haven’t bought them. It’s a lot of trouble to go to just to see the big guy, you know?)
Besides, kids only love Santa Claus until they are plunked into his lap. You could be doing a complete Olympic gymnastics routine over on the side to make little Junior smile for the camera, but trust me, he’ll take one look at that massive beard and scream like you’ve handed him to Fidel Castro. Yeah, good times.
Finally, it’s about Christmas Eve, when the children are at long-last asleep, and you haul the gifts out of hiding and spend the next nine hours assembling a tricycle, a pinball game, and a snow cone machine, following directions on a box that says “Assembly should take no longer than 30 minutes.” (Everyone knows you never believe boxes. Boxes lie. Boxes watch us happily settle down to assemble stuff and laugh hysterically, eager to tell the other boxes at the landfill about the doofus who bought the tricycle, and believed the stuff on the box.)
Meanwhile, you eat Santa’s cookies and drink Santa’s milk, and at 4 a.m. you drift off to sleep, slumped on the floor against the couch, bits of tinsel clinging to your hair, a piece of scotch tape stuck to your lower lip, your hands curled in frozen wrapping spasms … and God bless us everyone.
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.