The first year our oldest daughter understood the concept of Santa, I tagged every one of her gifts from him. He did, after all climb down our chimney, avoid the woodstove, (no fire that night), and place all the gifts under the tree. After our daughter opened all her presents she asked why WE didn’t get her anything for Christmas. I don’t remember what I answered but it took me until the fourth of July to pay off the credit card bill.
One year we purchased a beautiful handmade Victorian dollhouse for the girls. We stored the house, next door, at my mother-in-laws. After our Christmas Eve party, when the kids were all snug in their beds, we carried the doll house across the yard and driveway to our house. On the way my husband dropped his end. We’ve never had to assemble bikes or other toys late on Christmas Eve, never had to make a last minute dash for something critical. But that night, though my husband said he’d fix the doll house, elves named Makita, Black & Decker and Dewalt were not near as helpful as my little make-up kit tweezers and a bottle of Elmer’s School Glue. I was not only sticking shingles back on the roof at 2am, I was reattaching the entire roof and interior walls.
Then there was the year I got the brilliant idea to wrap one daughter’s presents in red wrapping paper and the other daughter’s gifts in green. This eliminated having to write dozens of ‘to and from’ gift tags and did away with the whole ‘from Santa’ dilemma. Problem was that just before dawn on Christmas morning, and prior to my first cup of coffee, I forgot who was red and who was green. Add to that, that I had run out of my ‘clever’ paper, and had to throw in a few random Santa and snowmen designs, I was in trouble. I opened one of the gifts, could not remember who the gift was for, so I guessed. We were about six gifts in before I figured out the assigned colors. I had to explain that Santa got confused, forgot the tags and they could trade gifts if they wanted to. They kept what they had already opened and scrambled under the tree to gather their own color.
Then there was the year we bought a sixteen foot Christmas tree for the foyer. We could barely get it in the front door. Like the Griswold’s tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, once we cut the strings, it was “stand back everyone,” as the branches sprung. (No squirrels though.) We had to decorate the top of the tree from the upstairs hallway.
Shortly after we were married, the year of the Gypsy Moth Infestation had us with half a Christmas tree. We called it our ‘wall tree’ because the back half was eaten away and fit perfectly flat against the living room wall. Excellent for our small apartment and it was free.
One Christmas our stove died. We used a neighbors. Thank God she wasn’t cooking for an army like we were. Then there was the year my husband had to pick his father up from a hospital, an hour away, to bring him home for the day. It was 12 degrees below zero outside and I left the car low on gas. No stations were open because of the holiday. They arrived home on fumes, the few left in the tank, and the many exhibited by my husband’s demeanor.
This year the gas tank is full, no big tree, no color coded gifts, no bug infested half-balsam and no every-gift is from Santa. This year it is modest envelopes for the big kids and way-too-many unbreakable, multi-colored wrapped boxes for the baby. If something gets broken, who cares, she’ll probably play with the paper and boxes more than the toys anyway. Enough said.