It seems like it was only yesterday that we were arguing about who was going to go outside and take Christmas lights down in sub-zero temps, carry box after box of ornaments and decorative Santas back downstairs to their place of slumber under said stairs, and find a spot in that torn up Christmas tree box for the crumpled wreath that hangs on the front door. Seems like it was only yesterday that we were frantically looking for gifts online when what we bought for the kids didn’t seem to be enough. “What Christmas cookies should I make to give out as gifts this year?” my wife asked last year around this time. “I don’t know. The ones with Hershey Kisses on them?” I said. “Those are too predictable”, she retorted. Seems like only yesterday we had this conversation.
Actually, we did just have that conversation yesterday. Just as I was getting over the anxiety and stress of Christmas 2012, it seems H.G. Wells tricked me into his time machine and here I am, Christmas 2013. The ornaments, the Santas, the tree, and the crumpled wreath are back; along with that last minute gift buying boogie. The Christmas cookie debate is also back(although we’ve at least settled on varieties now…let the baking begin.) Last night we watched the stop-motion classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer starring a snowman voiced by a probably drunk Burl Ives and a very effeminate dentist/elf. We’ve already watched Elf, and I’m sure A Christmas Story will soon be glowing upon our TV screen. And of course on Christmas Eve we’ll bask in the glow of Silent Night, Deadly Night and get drunk on dairy products mixed with hard liquor. The 80s schlocky holiday horror (cult)classic is debatable, but rum and some sort of drink is vital to the continued enjoyment of every kids favorite holiday sanctioned break-in by a jolly, bearded old man that’s not Randy Quaid. As I sit in my chair wearing this itchy Santa hat, the Christmas lights glowing on our fake tree, and the distant sound of arguing in the kitchen over “crinkle cookies” or “biscottis”, I wonder when did everything go from “Joy to the world” to “When will this end?!”
As a kid Christmas truly was the most wonderful time of the year(well, that and when the fall preview edition of ‘TV Guide’ came out.) There was something quite magical about it all. Sure, the gifts were pretty magical. Getting toys, candy, and fresh underwear to violate were great things. Getting off school for two weeks was also a pretty magical thing. Those last two days at school before we were off were like a time of elementary fellowship; where even enemies were cool with each other. Cats and dogs walked paw in paw in front of the school. Teachers seemed calmer, and their smoke breaks weren’t nearly as frequent. There was the holiday movie that was shown in class as well. The wall was folded back between two of the classrooms and the ancient TV was wheeled in on a cart with the 100lb top-loading VHS VCR. A Disney feature was played and we all sat and ate flavored popcorn and a beverage of our choice(mine was Like Cola…mmm mmm good.) It was a great way to say “Sayonara” to Leesburg Elementary for two weeks.
Another great thing about Christmas break was on Christmas Eve WFFT Channel 55 would have the Christmas Movie Marathon. From Christmas Eve to the Christmas night Steve Shine hosted 36 hours of Christmas movies. For a kid that had no cable TV, this was a great thing. The Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, Jimmy Stewart, plus tons of other less known Christmas treasure were played with little commercial interruption, allowing my brother and I to sit on the couch and be even lazier than we already were. Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one gift, with the rest saved for Christmas morning(one Christmas we opened all our gifts on Christmas Eve. It was a rather anti-climactic Christmas morning to follow.) On Christmas Day we had a great meal with my grandparents coming over in the afternoon. Well, they were usually supposed to come over around 2pm, but since old people wake up at 3am usually they’d end up knocking on our door around 11:30am while mom was still in the shower. There was the post-Christmas morning letdown around 5pm on Christmas, but then you realized playing with a toy Christmas night that you still had an entire week left of Christmas break left to play with your toys, stay up late and sleep in. Friends were planning sleepovers, movies would be rented, and much junk food would be consumed. A warmth would come over you, starting in your belly(much like that warmth that comes over you as an adult after a shot a whiskey), and would work its way over your whole body till you felt the need to jump out of your skin. Then there was New Year’s Eve. The one night of the year that was sanctioned for staying up all night and watching your parents and their friends get blotto. What wasn’t to love about the Christmas holiday?
Well, you grow up and you realize all that magic wasn’t really magic at all. They’re merely sleight of hand tricks performed by the most unlikely of magicians: parents. The gifts, the lights, the food…all appear seemingly out of mid air but are actually painstakingly produced by the parental units. While the kiddos mull around the house waiting for “Santa”, the adults sneak around town buying gifts, hiding them around the house in spots that hopefully those nosy kids won’t find them, and then only after said hyper kids finally fall asleep ma and pa slink off to that dark part of the house and wrap those gifts, giving that fat old guy in the suit and beard all the credit. Merry freakin’ Christmas. A ton of extra food has to be budgeted for those two weeks those giant mouths are home from school so they don’t “starve”. Sleepovers are planned, videos are rented, and extra trips are taken because these kids have no attention span. Then you’ll most certainly here “I’m bored” whined a couple times as those bundles of joy sit pouting amongst piles of new toys that will cause the family to survive on ramen for the next couple of months thanks to the “breaking of the bank”, as it were.
Ehh, so I guess becoming a parent is what happened to me. Or just an adult, even. Despite all of this, I’m not bitter. I like seeing others happy. I like seeing my kids feeling how I felt at their age. That’s all the magic I suppose I need.
The rum might help.
And Steve Shine, if you’re out there, can I borrow your copy of The Three Stooges meet Hercules?