Christmas is almost here and I can hardly wait. The suspense is killing me actually. Not for what Santa might be bringing me, but on any of the multitude of tactics that my children might employ between now and then to get me to let them open one (just one, we promise) present before Christmas.
It is a tradition that I thought might fade away as my kids got older, but no, it has apparently ingrained itself so deeply into our household that it will forever be a part of our lives. I'm speaking, of course, of the annual "Please Let Us Open One Present Before Christmas Whine" as it has come to be affectionately called. It starts approximately three minutes after I place the first present under the tree and ends only on Christmas morning.
But it is a tradition, however grating it may be to my nerves, so I guess I'm in no real hurry to see it come to an end. Because we all need traditions, even strange ones. My children even won a small victory in this tradition because I now allow them to open one present on Christmas Eve, if for no other reason than because it gives them something to do so I can enjoy one day of the Christmas season without having that pleading whine in my ears.
Another tradition in my home is my annual vow to learn how to wrap a present so that it actually looks like a present and not some mangled, brightly colored mistake. This is a tradition I started years ago before my children were even born and it continues to this day. Because I have not mastered this skill. I'm actually beginning to believe that it is a skill beyond the ability of the normal man. You can take a present wrapped by a normal, healthy man and take a present wrapped by a normal, healthy woman and place them side by side and I predict that 99 times out of a 100 you could pick which present the man wrapped in just under 2.3 seconds. But, as I said, traditions are good so I make the same vow every year.
The Christmas dinner is a tradition that continues in our household, although since I became a single parent the question for my children is not what are we having for Christmas dinner, but is Christmas dinner absolutely necessary and if it is can we eat it at Grandma's? My cooking skills have improved over the years to the point where I am no longer fearful that one of my meals might result in a visit to the emergency room, but with few exceptions it is not the most pleasant of experiences.
By far my most favorite Christmas tradition is in asking my dad what he wants for Christmas. It's my favorite because my dad asks for (no, insists on) the same thing every year. Socks. Whenever any of his kids ask him what he might want for Christmas he always says socks. Not a package of socks, just a pair of socks. "Just get me a pair of socks. Shouldn't cost you more than a couple of dollars." Well none of us were going to get our dad just a pair of socks so we invariably got him something else, to which he would object saying we had spent too much money. Last year several of us kids did just what he asked and bought him a pair of socks and another present we thought he might like, thinking that maybe, just maybe, he does want a pair of socks. He seemed well pleased but I don't think he actually ever wore any of our socks.
Before you get to thinking that all of the traditions in my household are a little on the strange side I will tell you that we also traditionally sit down and talk about what Christmas really is, beneath the commercial hype, Santa Claus and badly wrapped presents. We try to remember what Christmas is and what it means. Sometimes we even succeed.
This year we have started a new tradition which my children have become quite excited about. When we go out to do our shopping for Christmas dinner we have decided that we will buy two of everything. One meal we will take home to prepare and the other we will give to somone in need. Part of me believes that my children are excited about this new tradition because they are filled with the spirit of the season.
Another part of me believes that they are excited because they know that somebody else will be having the same meal as them on Christmas day...with one major exception: It won't be cooked by me. Which is a good tradition indeed.