Growing up, Mom was a bit of a hard ass. About a lot of things, but especially about Christmas. There were a lot of rules surrounding this holiday; it’s a wonder we got any joy out of it at all.
First of all, we had to decorate the tree “as a family”, while listening to Christmas music, drinking egg nog and eating her Christmas baking. It was a rough life, I tell ya.
But one thing that was actually hard, was the time between the tree decorating and Christmas morning. The time that dragged so slowly because everyday the presents were there, staring you in the face, just begging to be opened.
Probably a week before Christmas morning, once we were off school and stuck at home, the begging began incessantly. My brother and I would bug Mom constantly.
Every time we asked the same question, yet expected a different answer. The answer never changed.
The outcome also never changed.
Eventually, Christmas Eve would roll around and we would have dinner at Granny’s place. We would get to open the presents from Granny, Uncle Jim & Uncle Keith. You’d think this would satiate our hunger, but in reality, it only fueled it.
By the time we got home, we’d be hell bent on opening our presents. We would beg and we would get the same answer. After enough time, we’d convince Mom that it was Christmas Eve; the day has the word Christmas in it and we were allowed to open Granny’s presents, so therefore, it is Christmas.
Mom would cave and allow us to open one present each.
Mom got to pick which one we opened and it was almost always clothes. Kids love getting clothes. Technically we opened presents, even if they weren’t good ones, so we would go to bed and wait for Christmas morning.
Nowadays, Mom lives away and we don’t see her on Christmas. She ships presents to us and we ship presents to her. Typically, I get her package in the mail about a week before Christmas. Since, most years, we celebrate Christmas with my dad on the 23rd, I never have anything to open on Christmas morning except for the present from Mom.
And since she engrained it into my soul, I never open her present early. Even though I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions, thank-you very much. Turns out, I would like a little something to open on Christmas morning. Otherwise, it’s just another morning.
Tonight, Mom called to let me know that she got my package (I received hers a couple days before). Every year we have the same conversation:
Mom: Have you opened your present yet?
Me: No, I haven’t.
Mom: Why not?
Me: Because it’s not Christmas yet.
Mom: Well, why don’t you open it now?
Me: What? No!
Mom: Oh, come on… just open it!
Me: No way!
Mom: Why not??
Me: Because then I won’t have anything to open on Christmas morning.
Mom: Oh, man…
Talk about role reversal. I know why she does it. Since she can’t be here to watch, she wants to hear me open my present. Every time, I say no, I can hear the disappointment in her voice. This year, I decided to compromise:
Me: If you want, I can wait until you call before I open it…
Mom: Oh… alright….
Me: But you have to wait to open yours too, so we can open them together, okay?!
All traces of disappointment were gone; all that was left was excitement and happiness.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!