Countdown to Christmas 13 days
When I was a child Christmas was the high point of the year for me. All year long you build up to it, then it happens and.... ppfffffttttttt. It's all downhill until July when you can start building up to it again.
My mom asked each of us kids to make a list of what we wanted for Christmas. I want a new bike, that belt we saw at The Golden Rule that you said looked like a hippie, everything on page 62 of the Sears Christmas catalog, everything on pages 73-82 of the Sears Christmas catalog and a puppy.
See that list? It's a list doomed to failure. You are never going to get EVERYTHING off of a page in the catalog. Note that I didn't ask for "anything off of page 62" I asked for EVERYTHING off of page 62. I already had a bike, I was already told "no" to that belt and we had a cat so the puppy thing was not gonna' happen either.
But I held out hope. Though I knew you couldn't wrap a puppy in a box and put him under the tree a week before Christmas, you could always wrap a gift certificate for a puppy and place it under the tree without any ventilation holes and that box could really be any size, it could totally happen.... doomed.
I always tried to find the gifts that were hidden in the house. My mother knew this. Every year she hid the gifts as she brought them into the house. High up in the closet? Hello stepladder. Hidden in her dedicates drawer? Goodbye privacy. I think one year she hid them in my dad's trunk. But she didn't think about going out to dinner and leaving my dad's car at home with a spare set of keys in the cupboard.
Her next plan of attack was to bring the gift home, wrap them immediately and place them under the tree. Here's a tip, don't do that with anything breakable. We picked up and shook every gift under that tree when no one was home.
The last year I cheated and spoiled the surprise of Christmas morning still lives in my head.
My parents were out at the Elk's club on a Saturday night. Just us kids were home. After great discussion, we decided to peek at the gifts under the tree. My mom had a system of hiding who each gift was for, but we found a couple that looked similar and figured out it was "three gift". a gift that all three kids are getting the same, probably in different colors. My sister and I were all for the peeking. My older brother was against it -ish. As in, he was against peeking, against getting caught, but was staying in the room to see what we found, then going to tell us both that we shouldn't have done that.
Wrapping paper was cheap, tape was extra sticky. There was no way to open this without being betrayed. We carefully sliced the tape along one end where we planned to place an exact same size piece of tape back over it after. Of all the 500 things I had carefully selected to appear on my list, which one would this fantastic present turn out to be....?
That wasn't on my list. And there weren't even pencils that drew in color. They were regular pencils that were painted a swirling faux marble pattern on the outside. So disappointing. My sister and I started to argue about opening more presents, to try and find a really good one. My brother freaked out that we were all going to get caught. The pencils got taped back up and placed exactly back under the tree where they had been.
Two days later I had to give my Oscar winning performance of opening up aforementioned faux marble swirl pencils and acting excited, surprised and not disappointed in the least that it wasn't a gift certificate for a puppy.
By 2 pm I had stormed to my room, thrown all my gifts outside my door, especially those rotten pencils and screamed that CHRISTMAS SUCKS!!! Because I hadn't gotten ANYTHING I had asked for on my list! Not pretty.
But there is hope. In January, my mom and I discussed just exactly what the hell is wrong with me. We figured out that after Christmas there is nothing to look forward to. My birthday is 11 months away, so is Halloween, and no one really gives enough attention or candy on Valentine's Day or any other Spring celebrations. Then we talked about my unrealistic expectations of getting everything on my list. Next year my mom included me in a lot more of her Christmas shopping so I could see what everyone else was getting and adjust my expectations to match. And we planned something fun to happen in January to look forward to.
My mother also explained to me that she spends $50 per child each year. That was her limit. No bike, no carpet, no full catalog pages were ever going to be purchased with a budget of $50. You can probably guess what I said next. You could probably say it with me.
Puppies are free.
"Not after you unwrap them."