Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Let's Make Christmas Last"

"Christmas goes too quickly," my mom said. I don't think she was saying it to me. I think she was saying it to my dad at the other end of the table. "Let's make Christmas last this year."

He moved the casserole around on his plate and took a swig of the cola in his glass. "How do you suppose we do that?"

"Well," she said. Clearly she'd been waiting to unveil this idea. "I think on Christmas morning we should only open one present per hour. That way we won't have everything open in a few minutes of wrapping paper flurry. We can enjoy the day."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. She had perked my attention at the mention of presents. "Wait?!?" I cried. My brother had also caught on to this. "One present every hour?!?" he said.

"Yes. That way we have a whole day of Christmas instead of just a few minutes." She had put her fork and knife down and folded her hands together over the plate.

"But we'll still get Santa's presents in the morning, right?" said my older brother. "Because Santa doesn't wrap gifts."

"Why would Santa not come in the morning?" I said. "Santa doesn't have anything to do with this."

"Santa will be the same as always," mom said. "But our family presents are one per hour." And with that, it was decided.
***
The carcasses of new toys lay strewn about. Wire twist ties that had held legs down and oddly shaped cardboard lay about in the aftermath of Santa's visit. After the excitement of Santa had worn off , I was already jonesing for another present high. 

"Mom, can we open presents now?" I whined. She sighed and rolled her eyes a little. 

"Yes, pick one, and make it a good one because it's gotta last for the next hour," she said. I made my way under the tree and immediately started feeling boxes. I had learned a few Christmases before that I could identify a Barbie by feeling for the flexible plastic front on the box. I found one and chose it as my present.

My brother started crawling under the tree but then my dad got up in his bathroom and ubiquitous moccasin slippers. "Let me chose yours, Matt," he said. He crouched under the tree and pulled out a clandestine-looking box. "This is it."

We made a mad dash through the paper. Ripping as fast as we could. I caught glimpse of a glittery skirt and knew I had an evening Barbie, one of my most covetous kinds. My shrieks were only outmatched by my brother's.

"Now this is for both of you," my dad said. My mom looked less than amused. It seemed this her idea was taking a turn she hadn't anticipated. 

I peered over his shoulder. It was a Nintendo. THE Nintendo. The first version ever made and probably the only one in a three-hour radius.  My brother took off running for his room with the Nintendo box under his arm. My dad got up to follow.

"I should probably see if he needs any help," he said. I soon ran after them both. It took my brother a few minutes to set up the Nintendo but once he did, we were mesmerized. It came with controllers and gun and Duck Hunt. We took turns shooting our virtual Christmas dinner. My mother came back what seemed like a mere minute later.

"It's time for your next present, kids," she said. We barely looked up.

"Um, right now?" Matt said. His eyes never left the duck that floated across the TV screen.

"Yes." she said through gritted teeth. "Now."

We spent the hours in the day running back and forth from the tree to the TV in between games. We opened our last presents about 14 hours after we began, each hour our enthusiasm dwindling and my mother's eyes less shining. 

The next year, we tore through the presents like usual. 

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