Saturday, December 27, 2008

Newspaper column

In a matter of minutes, our living room was destroyed. There were bits of shredded wrapping paper in every couch cushion crevice, toys had been revered for moments and then cast aside for the next concealed one, and I barely had time to get any of it captured in pictures -- let alone take it in for myself.

As a new parent at Christmas, it seemed almost comical how fast a month of list-making, coupon-clipping, driving, parking, deciphering, pondering, selecting, paying, carting, detagging and wrapping could be undone before I had time to blink.

I found myself looking at our beautiful tree with the carnage around it and laughing because the only other reaction would've been to start pounding my head against a wall, and I couldn't have gotten over to one anyway. I guess Santa's going to have to up his arsenal next year.

At least we still have grandma's house, I thought.

If ever Santa had competition, it would be from my mother-in-law. With four grandkids, every flat surface in her entire downstairs is covered with wrapped packages, including the back of her piano and any floor space not absolutely necessary for walking from room to room. Plus, the biggest presents become tables for even more boxes, bags and bows.

This year, one was so big it was wrapped in a Christmas-themed tablecloth.

But just as soon as she could divvy up the packages to their intended recipients, it was over in a series of shrieks heard above the din of ripping paper. If I thought coaxing our 1-year-old through pulling tissue paper out of a bag went fast, I was quickly reminded that older kids with better finger dexterity go even faster.

The next phase of opening came soon after. Knives and scissors were pulled from the kitchen to free dolls, games and batteries from their plastic casings. I found that there's no pressure in the world like trying to wrangle a new toy out of its twist-tie prison as an anxious child bounces with anticipation at your lap.

I couldn't help but wonder if adults would be able to savor the reactions of little ones more if we could figure out how to wrap toys like manufacturers do.

In the meantime, I watched helplessly as tiny little parts got lost under the chaos. I tried my best to keep my daughter's new dollhouse family together, but after a few minutes, the baby was on his own in his crib on the roof next to the kitchen sink while his parents were off in a thick jungle of red and green.

I attempted to retrieve them before they ended up in a garbage bag as her big cousin announced the maze game that had come with six balls now had only four. And where was her stuffed kitty? And could I open this please?

With some intense searching, we found most of our targets, but eventually I gave up and decided the baby may have to remain an orphan forever.

After dinner -- which had its own mini disasters including the moment I shattered a glass on the kitchen counter and spilled beets all over the white tablecloth -- we resumed our search and found the baby's parents in the dollhouse attic hideaway. It was then that I realized there are all types of Christmas miracles.

The biggest of all is that we experience annual holiday amnesia and do it all over again each December.

4 comments:

jsi said...

Merry Christmas
Your celebration with family sounds breath-taking - so much present with each other!

When our children were so much younger, I dedicated myself to about 2 days of un-packaging the toys, un-doing the ties, un-sewing the doll hair from the cardboard, un-stapling the clothes and shoes and car wheels from their imprisoned places. All before the wrapping.

We put the batteries in, we set up the doll house with its place settings and rocking chairs,we removed the clam packaging from the kid-proof/adult-proof security measures...and then we did the wrapping.

And it made all the difference in the world. You are exactly right - there is no pressure like a little one hopping up and down in anticipation while you are reading the directions in German to find the place to put in the batteries.

It sounds like your mother-in-law loves having you all over!

the plainsman said...

"...if we could figure out how to wrap toys like manufacturers do." I really liked that line.

"jsi's" comments above reminded me that my parents also did a pre-opening and repackaging routine with some of the more complicated stuff, too. A great suggestion for some of today's overpackaged stuff.

Never could understand the Christmas unwraping pandimonium thing, though. As kids, we had a family tradition of unwraping our presents in turn, all watching what the next was getting -- it seemed to add to the fun and anticipation of opening our next one. If were were bored, we got a chance to appreciate and play with our most recent gift for a few minutes more before getting around to the next one.

Yes, gift opening took an hour or more and the fun was extended through that whole time, rather than just five seconds of mayhem.

Meanwhile: "einsetzen Sie die gedreht Batterie _e"

Ray said...

Hehe. This was a great entry. And I don't know why but while I was reading it, it had a different feel to it.

"With four grandkids, every flat surface in her entire downstairs is covered with wrapped packages, including the back of her piano and any floor space not absolutely necessary for walking from room to room. Plus, the biggest presents become tables for even more boxes, bags and bows."

^^WOW! I want to be one of your mother-in-law's grandkids! LOL! =P

And yes it's sad that Christmas goes so quickly. I find it sad since you anticipate it so much and the day comes and goes in the blink of an eye. This Christmas came and went faster than any other before and I hope that Christmas isn't like this for the remainder of my life. It's not like when I was a kid and the anticipation feel like it lasted for so long. Now my life is filled with, "where has the time gone? And, "can I have it back." Times flying by so quickly we just have to remember the good times as best we can.

I hope you, Jerry, Alli and Toby had a great Christmas and that you have a Great New Year's too (even though you're working. Maybe your coworkers can make it fun). =o)

Take, care.

Kristin said...

haha.
merry christmas =]]

-KrIsTiN-