Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas memories

So frequently, the stories I tell of my childhood (though rarely here, as this seems to be more of a running commentary on the wackiness now, instead of the wackiness then) are filled with the kind of ugliness that I hope I would never visit upon my children. Don't get me wrong, I was blessed in so many ways, but it wasn't always pretty.

So, I'm watching a comercial for Walgreens tonight, and there are two children searching the house for their Christmas gifts. Seeing only Walgreens bags, they go away without finding them.

I remembered suddenly, that I never peeked. I believed my parents when they told us that they would know. That the presents were boobie trapped in such a way that they would see any tampering. That if we peeked, there would be no presents. Since I knew that my parents were older and smarter than I, (I was not yet a teenager) I believed them.

I cannot vouch for my siblings, but I was always surprised and delighted on Christmas morning to find that my parents had provided gifts that I had either asked for, or never knew I wanted. The electric train when I was 10 (I JUST gave that to my nephew. I hope they were able to get it working) that I wanted so badly (my flute teacher made fun of me for wanting it. I never understood why a girl couldn't have an electric train) The new Bike. A skateboard.

It must have been thrilling for my parents when they saw me surprised, to know I still believed they were smarter, and to know that in this one thing, I was obediant. They always made sure that the wrapped gifts were interesting enough to keep us guessing for weeks.

I'm looking forward again this year to the excitement of shaking presents. My mom is the queen of adding nuts, bells, rocks, and cans of soup to throw us off. Some things, as always, are obvious. Books (but which one???) Pillows. The unmistakable slide of clothes in a box.

For me, Christmas isn't about the birth of Christ. It's about spending time with my family and friends. It's about anticipating their delight in gifts I choose carefully. About being tipsy before noon, eating See's candy for breakfast, and taking a nap under the spell of Bing Crosby. My mom's roast beast and my sisters' smiles. Harassing my brother and the cat.

I know that these special feelings were planted carefully and fostered by my parents. With every threat, they were teaching us the joy of anticipation. With every set of flannel pajamas, the delight of a simple gift. And each Christmas, I felt loved and special. There's no greater blessing than that.

6 comments:

Sensei Ern said...

my flute teacher made fun of me for wanting it. I never understood why a girl couldn't have an electric train)

I think your teacher was insulted that you wanted a symbol of the tyranny of US capitalism and the white man's mistreatment of the native Americans.

mbykj: Swahili word for "the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train".

Ginamonster said...

No, because he turned to the boy next to me and asked if he wanted a Barbie.

Sensei Ern said...

Yep, usually, the anti-American haters are a little fruity.

Chickie said...

This reminds me of a Christmas where my sister and I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas wondering what one of our presents was. Since we were so excited, Mom had us open it last. What were we in a lather over? Socks stuffed in toilet paper tubes.

I get my gift wrapping genius from my Mom.

Ginamonster said...

Hee hee, Chickie. I once hid an opal necklace under lacy underwear. my mom had no idea that her real present was yet to come!

rebturtle said...

I was such a sneaky, mischievous child. I would sometimes carefully cut the tape on some of my presents, peek in, and then carefully re-tape them. It would absolutely ruin the surprise, but fortunately I have mad acting skills (and nun chuck skills....). I also inherited my mother's awesome powers of "shake-n-guess."
My personal favorite is the box within a box, within a box, within a box with another box (some are dead-ends!), within a couple of boxes. All carefully wrapped and often disguised by weight, shape and texture. I also like doing treasure hunts. Usually co-ordinated with above packaging only to reveal a clue at the end that leads them to another somewhere in the house, and on and on. ;) I love Christmas, in a warped sneaky kind of way.