Christmas Eve presents
When Emmitt and I were kids, we were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve – our parents’ way of keeping us from knocking ourselves out with excitement. We didn’t, however, get to pick which presents. Mama and Daddy picked them. No matter who the present was from (usually an aunt and uncle or our grandparents), the present was amazingly always new pajamas. This was before the days of flame-retardant fabrics, and the pajamas were soft before washing. The pajamas themselves weren’t much of a surprise after a couple of years of this, but the idea that we got to open something on Christmas Eve was always fun. Ripping into the paper was practice for the morning to come, and we did it with all the flare of out-of-control kids waiting for Santa Claus.
Such were the innocent times of the 1950s and ’60s, a time when kids maintained their imaginations longer than nowdays, when television, the Internet, and kids at school can destroy a child’s fantasy world faster than you can say Ho, Ho, Ho. Oh, and that seems to be gone, too – at least in some U.S. cities. Who are those idiots who seek to use political correctness to take away long-lived cultural traditions? I ask you, what child thinks of slang for the word ”prostitute” when they hear their friendly Santa Claus say, “Ho, Ho, Ho”? What kid who believes in Santa Claus even knows what a prostitute is? Ranting on Christmas Eve, something I wouldn’t have imagined last year.
So, tonight, I’m missing the opening of Christmas Eve presents – just one each, mind you. There are no kids in the house tonight. Except the kids Dave and I remember being in our parents’ homes. We won’t be opening one present each, though. We’re still finishing up our preparations for tomorrow, when we’ll spend the morning with Nat, Anna, and Ruby. Early. Like in the old days when Nat and Owen would wake us before daylight, and we begged them to go back to bed until the sun came up. It never worked. Actually, we get to sleep in tomorrow. We don’t have to be there until 7:00 a.m., which means we’ll be up before 6:00, so we’ll have time to make the half hour drive. Yawn. I can feel it now. I’ll have a cup of coffee in my hands, eyes half closed, Dave driving at a snail’s pace, and we’ll wind our way through the countryside.
I will, in the way of someone who has been sleep-deprived for years, wake up and be the picture of Christmas cheer as soon as we ascend the stairs and greet a young couple and a four-year-old child – Nat, Anna, and Ruby. And, Owen will be there in his inimitable way, ever present in our hearts.
Song for the night: What’s This?, Danny Elfman