(sorta-but-not-really-very-closely-related aside: Sting's version of "I Saw Three Ships" is officially Kaleb's favorite Christmas song this year. When we get in the car, he says "sing it with me, Christmas morning song," so I turn it on and we listen to it and sing along where ever we go. I'm not sure how to explain just how cute his lispy little rendition of "on Christmas day in the mornin'" is.)
Writing Prompt: Write about your Christmas mornings. Where you early-morning openers? Did you follow a certain M.O.? Or was it something random every year? Who passed out gifts? Did you open one at a time or all at once? Did you eat before or after opening gifts? What were your Christmas-morning breakfasts like? Is there something specific or unique that stands out in your memory?
Some French literary theorist---Derrida, maybe---who I am too lazy to look up right now said that desiring a thing is better than having a thing, and that once you get the thing you want, desire goes away. Which really means: anticipation is more pleasurable than receiving. Of course, I didn't have the language to put it that way when I was seven years old, but I intuitively got it. I'd stay in my bed on Christmas morning, awake before Becky, filled with that tingly anticipation of the first sight of the tree, skirted with gifts. Once all the kids were awake, then started the long process of getting Dad out of bed. We'd beg and plead and make furtive trips to the bathroom, carefully closing our eyes so as not to even tempt a glance at the tree. Even being the snoop that I was, I never peaked into the front room where the presents from Santa waited; I wanted to savor the anticipation. Plus, Santa always left out a few unwrapped gifts, and I didn't want to spoil my pretend surprise.
I was always mystified: how was it that my mom, who passed out the gifts, always managed to have us open similar gifts at once? Even after I knew about the Santa-Clause Secret, this still baffled me. How could she remember? Of course, now that I'm playing Santa, I realize she probably had some system, but back then, it was puzzling. I would ponder that question as I sat in front of the glittering tree, wondering which gifts were for me.
Once we finally got started, we opened gifts one at a time, so as to stretch out the anticipation. We'd admire each other's gifts before hurrying to open the next one, every so often remembering our parents in the glut and frenzy of present-opening and giving them a gift to open. We sort of had assigned seats; your gift that Santa didn't wrap was sitting on your chair, and that's where you'd sit to open gifts. Slowly through the morning, opened gifts piled up around us. Once we'd finished opening, and for a few days after Christmas, we'd all leave our new treasures on our individual chairs. It made the feeling of newness stretch out, because once you took your stuff off your chair and it was absorbed by the dressers and cupboards and closets in the house, it didn't seem new any longer.
Here I am, about five years old I think. That year I had this particular stretch of couch as my chair, and I have a vague impression that I asked Mom to take this picture of me with all my new stuff. That red-and-white tablecloth-looking thing is one of my favorite dresses; it had Holly Hobby on it, and my mom sewed it. I don't remember the doll or the doll car, but I do remember playing with that Play Doh.
Resolution: at my house, Santa wraps all the gifts, so there's no assigned seating method. But somehow, it all falls into place that the kids sit in the same spot every year, gathering their new possessions around them. This year, I'm resolving to take a photo of each of them like this one, a snapshot of everything they got.