Like all Christmas seasons, the energy, excitement, commotion, chaos, and physical and mental toll is directly proportional to the amount of time it took to get everything ready for the few hours we spend actually celebrating the holiday. From the early wake up calls by our excited kids, the power tools needed to open up the packages, to an abundance of consumed food, the holidays can be quite an experience (sort of like the front line of war can be “quite an experience”). Here’s what happened during mine.
Christmas Eve (while every retailer with a cash register starts Christmas in October, my family’s Christmas really begins on Christmas Eve)
9:35pm– Sprinkle the yard with dry oatmeal and glitter my wife and I have convinced the kids is reindeer food. I get the bright idea to throw some on to the roof over the front porch. We go in when the 5 year old starts crying because I won’t get the ladder and let her go up on the roof to sprinkle her “food”.
9:45pm– Kids open their gifts from us to leave room for Santa’s gifts coming later. The 5 year old does a lap around the first floor with her hands up in the air every time she opens up a gift. I quietly offer my apologies to Five Below for ever suggesting their merchandise to be junk.
10:15pm– Time for the kids to go to bed but not before we leave out milk and cookies for Santa (and coffee…strong, strong coffee). Search for padlocks to put on their doors to keep them in penned in. My wife convinces me drilling latches and locks on to their doors is a little left of the spirit of Christmas. I keep the idea in my back pocket…just in case.
10:17pm– Not a peep from either one of them. Either they are asleep or have taken a vow of silence to make a nun jealous.
10:31pm– I’m asleep and actively drooling.
10:48pm– My wife wakes me up. Reminds me that Santa still needs to come tonight.
10:55pm– Transport the presents from our cluttered closet to neatly stacked if not small piles for each girl (I curse the economy for that). The dog keeps trying to eat the bone we wrapped up for her, wrapping paper be damned.
1:30am– Bed time for Santa but not before I inhale the three cookies and room temperature milk.
3:23am– I’m woken up by the dog pawing at my face on the edge of my bed. Either the she is excited for that gift wrapped bone or the 30lbs of food that hit the floor during our Christmas Eve dinner that she ate has finally worked its way through her.
3:25am– I’m standing outside with the dog. It was the 30lbs of food.
6:44am– The 8 year old emerges from her room. She is as awake and as alert as a Kevin Costner in the ‘Bodyguard’. I plead with her to give me 10 more minutes of sleep.
7:15am– Number 2 wakes up. Their combined enthusiasm and flying body presses is too much for my wife and I to resist. The last atomic elbow the 8 year old drops to my full bladder has me as awake and as alert as they are.
7:30am– The grandparents arrive to bear witness to the impending demolition of gift wrapping. It’s like they came to watch a demolition company implode a high-rise building.
7:32am– I release the kids from the 2nd floor like Zeus releasing the Krakken. They both come down to see what their good behavior has earned them.
7:32 (and 40 seconds) am– Tearing commences. I switch to the speed shutter on my camera in hopes of capturing the moment.
7:40am– Note to my wife. Stop taping all the goddamn boxes together!
7:46am– The 5 year old is lost under a pile of wrapping paper. I give the dog one of her socks to smell so she can sniff out my daughter.
7:47am– Daughter found. Now they are sitting around their gifts. Their eyes are wide. They are breathing heavy. Forget Jesus, this is what my Christmas is all about.
8:15am– Digging through the kitchen “junk drawer” hoping to find 6 AAA batteries. My brain tells I’m going to be about as successful as Geraldo was with Al Capone’s vault.
8:16am– I have one AAA battery, two 9 Volt batteries, 4 phone charges, and 16 sets of earphones.
8:40am– The dust has settled and both kids are impatiently waiting for me to pry open the packaging on their gifts. I’m hoping the 8 year old, who is literate, doesn’t ask me why Santa had to go to Taiwan for her gifts.
9:00am– The grandparents leave when I ask them to help opening the packages. Wimps.
9:10am– Can’t help but think chicken wire, lag bolts, and spot welds are a bit of an overkill for packaging on a pair of rubber American Girl doll shoes.
9:40am– We start getting ready to go my mom’s house to open more gifts. I can’t help but wonder why I pulled out my tin snips from my tool box to open a tea set if we were leaving.
10:00am– Round 2 of gifts for the kids. The endorphins pumping through their veins fight off the effects of fatigue a normal human being might be feeling at this moment.
2:00pm– Back from their grandmother’s house. We have a few hours before we go to my in-laws’ house. My wife darts up the stairs like a gazelle to take a nap. I am left with more packages to open and to keep the dog from chewing on everything on the floor.
4:00pm– On our way to my in-laws’ house. The 5 year old asks when Santa is coming back. I tell her when he pays off the credit card and replenishes his saving’s account.
6:15pm– Remarkably, the kids open their gifts with the same fervor they had this morning. Kenyan marathon runners don’t have this sort of endurance. I am working on trying not to fall asleep standing up as I take the 150th picture of the day.
8:07pm– We’re home. My wife and I have the same feeling, like we were just apart of some government study on fine motor skills performance while being sleep deprived while being tossed around in a cement truck. The kids are in an engorged state of Christmas sort of like how a Great White Shark gets after feeding on 10 tons of blubber from a whale carcass. The girls are in reflex mode as they play with their presents and try to stay awake. The effort is almost heroic. My wife and I sit on the sofa just watching in awe of our girls’ enthusiasm and fulfillment. Christmas and all its craziness is coming to an end but watching my kids, I can’t help but wish it didn’t have to.