Christmas is definitely more memorable when your kids are young. We had some fun traditions back then, including a few that might now qualify as “psychological abuse” in 17 states.
The first would occur after attending Christmas Eve Mass.
Our tradition would be to ride around the local area to check out the Christmas lights and displays with the Christmas songs turned up to ‘hood bouncing volume, before heading home and allowing the grandparents to give the boys early Christmas presents.
The boys, feeling the freedom of having the church obligation completed, and knowing full well that grandchild presents awaited, were usually quite patient and relaxed as our search for Lights of Christmas progressed. But after 30 minutes or so, their facade of patience would start to crack.
So I would start heading our old Dodge Grand Caravan towards home.
Of course when the kids recognized the more familiar streets and neighborhoods; they would know we were getting close to Christmas Present Time.
So each time we got really close to our house, I’d go right past the street or turn in the opposite direction, announcing to Mom that here was a house up the road I wanted her to see. If I turned down our street, I would make several loops around the neighborhood, sometimes slowing as we approached the driveway, then going right on past to the accompaniment of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
By the time we got home, the kids were near emotional wrecks, and Mom and I could hardly keep from laughing out loud.
Our next fond memory of “enhanced interruptive techniques” was experienced on Christmas morning …
Every Christmas one of the kids (usually that Mischievous Middle Child) would bounce onto our bed at 6:30 sharp. We had no illusions that the little termite hadn’t already been downstairs peeking, so we would waited to exact our own little brand of revenge.
After our MMC crowed one Christmas Eve about how early he was going to wake me up, I felt the dawning of a brilliant idea!
That night once the Children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, I stealthily tied bungee cords from their bedroom doors to the stairway railing across the hall!
(Yes … Four out of five firemen would probably not recommend such a prank, but our house was virtually new back then. Very low risk, trust me!)
That was a fun Christmas morning with Carol and I giggling like sixth-graders as the wails from the MMC’s bedroom went on for roughly 10 minutes. Finally our resourceful little termite pried his door open just enough to squirm his body out his bedroom door. To his credit though, he immediately went downstairs to snoop at what was under the tree before heading back upstairs to free his fellow inmates.
Most Christmases we made the boys wait at the top of the stairs as Mom and I prepped for the morning’s cyclone of torn wrapping paper and discarded bows. We took our grand old time getting our faces ready, usually with one keeping an eye on the inmates while the other was brushing their teeth.
Then I would head downstairs for the Official Opening Ceremony.
You may think I’m kidding, but that’s exactly what it was!
I would prattle around for 20 minutes, getting the coffee going; lighting the tree; fiddling with the old shoulder-held VHS recorder; and putting the dog out for her morning constitutional. All the while the kids are pleading, “Dad, hurry up!”
Which of course that just made me move a little slower.
Finally, I would have everything ready, the VHS recorder in position; and the kids would start creeping down the steps. And then I would launch into my Christmas Morning Speech …
It was usually a thing of beauty. Like a condensed senatorial filibuster …
“Mom, he’s doing this on purpose!”
I would set the stage for the day’s event and provide the viewers with an elaborate description of the tree, the number of presents (with a few “Oohs” and “Ahhs” thrown in to turn the screws a little tighter), that day’s participants (by now the boys were pleading with their mother to shut me down), and then a lengthy description of the weather.
Once the wailing had subsided, I would end my speech with a “Merry Christmas to all!”; and the boys anticipation would be at peek levels …
Then I’d say, “Dammit, somethings wrong with the camera/tree/coffee maker.”
The cacophony of wails was both heart rendering and side-splitting funny.
Now for those who might think such acts qualify me for The Grinch that Stole Christmas, let me assure you that these stories are repeated year-after-year during our holidays together. Like it or not, like me or not … They are a small – but funny – part of our family’s Holiday tradition!
Merry Christmas to all, and make sure you can get out that door before you Sugar-Plum Dance!