Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Christmas List

Christmas came and went in such a blur that perhaps a list is needed, marked by increasing levels of awesomeness:

First, we begin with the best gag gift of the year. It’s a little complicated, but for awhile in early December it seemed as if the family might be part owner of a tract of farm land in Nebraska. The jokes flew and debate ensued over whether we city folks should plant corn or soybeans come spring. As things turned out, we weren’t land barons after all. But my in-laws from back east made the best of it, and we all ended up with the gift of green John Deere hats. I’ll gladly wear mine the next time I mow the latest crop of crabgrass on my Greenhaven lawn.

Then comes the arrival and too-short visit of my brother-in-law, who escaped the cold of Baltimore to share the holiday with us. He joined A. and I on a walk to the park on Christmas Eve, where we played catch with a Nerf football. Uncle Riney Piney Poo Poo, as he is affectionately called by the kids, brought us a copy of Wii Sports Resort. The last time I had this much fun playing a video game was when I discovered Centipede in middle school.

Next on the list is Christmas Eve, when A. and little C. took part in the Christmas Eve service in the procession of friendly beasts arriving to see baby Jesus. A. was a shepherd, while C. was the cutest little mouse I ever saw. They held hands as they patiently posed for me to take a photo. They were good sports, and I took a second to appreciate the moment.

Even more excellent was Christmas morning, when A. and C. hopped out of bed to see if Santa came. The mood was electric, and they could barely contain themselves as they surveyed a mountain of presents around the tree. Snug in their Christmas pajamas, they paused for a moment and then dove in, shredding open gifts and having a great time. The front room was strewn with ripped paper when they were done, and they immediately set about trying each newly opened toy. Watching them made my day.

The best part of the holiday came a day later, when A. remembered gifts he made for us in his fourth-grade class. He opened a bag and pulled out a glass candle holder, covered in red, green and white paper. He gave me a Christmas card, with “Dad” on the front and “Seasons Geetings” written on the inside. It includes a picture of Santa’s sleigh sitting on the roof of a snow-covered house, with the big man seen peeking out of window. Perfect, typo and all.

Now we’re ready to take the tree down and put the lights away. The holiday is finally over. Long after the last tree needle is vacuumed up and Christmas is gone, these are the gifts I’ll remember.

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When Time Stands Still

For kids, the last few days before Christmas feel like an eternity.

For adults, it’s time to panic as the holiday comes bearing down on us like a UPS truck loaded with presents.

“Is Christmas here yet?” little C. asked as soon as she woke up the other day. Sorry, not yet.

“My prediction is that this week is going to feel like the slowest on earth,” A. added. “Everyone is so excited.”

It’s funny how our perception of the holiday changes as we get older. We go from carefree anticipation to the weight of responsibility and more than a little dread.

The little ones can’t wait until Christmas morning. Adults are meanwhile doing the calculus to figure out how we’re going to cram last-minute shopping, present wrapping, house cleaning, cooking and all the other stuff into the coming days.

If I squint and look back, I can remember my own long waits for Christmas Eve and Christmas itself. I could hardly stand it. I knew that my grandma hid unwrapped presents under her bed, and even though I tried to be good, I couldn’t resist peeking. I was about 8 years old. I looked and found the box of Legos that would soon be mine. It didn’t ruin the holiday, but just gave me a little fix to help me make it through to the big day.

I watch the kids now and I can tell they feel the same way. When we arrive home in the evening, we often have a box or two from Amazon waiting. Each contains a Christmas present. I can tell it takes all of their self control to keep from tearing open the boxes right on the spot.

Just a little while longer, I tell them. Soon they’ll get their holiday goodies, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

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