It was Christmas morning about twenty years ago when my brother and I sat on the sofa before dawn staring at the mountain of presents under the tree. Mom and Dad were upstairs were stealing a few hours of sleep after their marathon wrapping session and we whispered to one another that opening one gift couldn’t hurt.
I was practically panting with excitement. We were breaking the rules, thumbing our nose at the system! We each selected one present, making sure it was small (maybe mom and dad wouldn’t notice it missing) and tore at the paper. I don’t even remember what was inside those boxes, I just remember the thrill of secrecy and intrigue.
After the buzz of rebellion wore off we were left staring at each other, bored again. What was one more present?
One more present turned into two more, and then it turned into a frenzy. Before we knew it we had opened every single one of our presents.
All while mom and dad were sleeping.
I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when she came downstairs and saw what we did. There was no yelling, just her saying softly “but we didnt even get to watch you open your presents”.
Two decades later, I still feel guilty when I think about the year my brother and I had Christmas morning while mom and dad were sleeping. Needless to say that never happened again in our household.
Now that we are grown, Christmas morning comes later. No one is too excited to sleep, and we all need our cup of coffee or tea and a hot shower before we are ready to begin the festivities. After the obligatory family portrait directed by me (my family had the audacity to call me militant after I threatened to keep them standing there all day until they all smiled for the camera) the gift exchange begins.
The real thrill of Christmas day for me now is the dinner. We have the same menu every holiday, and I look forward to it all year. This year I thought I would have to miss out on my mom’s sausage and apple dressing, but she found gluten free breadcrumbs for me! When we raise our glasses for the toast, they will be filled with our traditional holiday drink of sparkling grape juice.
I hope everyone is having a very merry Christmas!