Remembering Christmas Past is like remembering childbirth: a certain amnesia sets in. If you asked me earlier in December what happens around here most Christmases, I’d have said not much. Then, last week, I looked up Christmas in an old diary.
How quickly we forget.
That year, I came up with the idea that I should send a card to 192 people, and thus spent every spare moment over a five-day period entering their names and addresses on my laptop so as to generate labels.
Finally one morning, I pressed “Print” and hurried away to take my shower – but when I came back, our nice fat-bottomed cat was delicately shredding the sheets of labels one by one as they emerged from the printer, while sitting directly ON the laptop, causing it to beep frantically, then lose its mind altogether, writing “#!” when you tried to write “the” and “%#~” when you tried to type “when.” And it kept ON doing this, hiccupping and speaking in gibberish for the next 13 hours.
Then I spent five more days of non-existent spare moments working up a newsy collage of holiday greetings and when that turned out to be way too big for a conventional envelope, I went and bought bigger envelopes, on which my printed labels now looked puny and impersonal. So I took another five days and made everyone who came into the house help me decorate each one with a bright holiday drawing.
And then there were the Disappointing Presents.
Our then 15-year-old turned out to be hoping for a leather jacket and instead I bought her a big silky Cheese Puff of a thing. What was I thinking?
So too, our then-10-year-old wanted little green army guys, but when the bucket of them was opened on Christmas morning, I turned out to have bought the wrong kind, a kind that couldn’t even lie down in the mud and inch along on their tummies. What kind of army guys can’t do THAT, right? Yet asking this bunch to do it would be like asking a Ken Doll to reach up and tousle his own hair. No elbows was the problem.
Also, the much-wished-for video game was sold out until March, and it seemed you couldn’t BUILD Erector Set Number 6 unless you already OWNED Erector Sets Number 1 through 5 – which we didn’t.
And as for the two presents I thought were sure-fire, the ones I had actually I had in fact bought super-early and even wrapped? These I couldn’t even find until three days after the big day.
On climbing into bed Christmas night, I recall my ten-year-old’s eyes shining with sorrow.
“It’s my fault,” he said, so as not to sadden me his hapless mother. “I didn’t get in the Christmas spirit. I should’ve thought more about what I was giving, instead of what I was getting,” he went on.
So this year we all tried to do that in this family: think more of what we were giving and not at all about what we might be getting.
Still, you sure can get turned around. All this time later I now see that I was the one who wanted that big downy Cheese Puff of a jacket all along. I think it looks pretty good on me, don’t you? The hot pink really sets off my new hair color.:-)