From a holiday perspective Christmas is about as close to baseball as anything I have found when it comes to excitement. To prove that point I briefly considered republishing the updated Twas the Night Before Christmas entry that I posted the night before Spring Training began under the title Spring Training Eve. But I figured you deserved new content rather than something that could be found using the search box on this blog. So instead I’ll focus my comments on what this day and this holiday means to me. There is nothing quite like the anticipation waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. Part of the excitement can be attributed to wondering what gifts may be awaiting you under the Christmas tree. More often though the excitement is building to see what others may think of the gifts you had gotten for them. With a family of 5 children, every Christmas Eve sees the excitement levels reach epidemic proportions. Trina of course would argue that this family contains 6 children since in her eyes I have not quite begun acting like an adult. A fact that many times I pride myself on.
Usually Christmas Eve begins with someone asking whether we get to open a present today or if we have to wait to open all of our presents on Christmas Day. Our family tradition is that all gifts are opened on Christmas Day but somewhere along the way we allowed the kids to open one present the night before. That does not happen all the time, but it did happen once which set a precedence that we as parents now have to manage. Usually this request comes from Dakota as the youngest he has the least amount of patience. Ok, maybe the second least amount of patience but I don’t think I necessarily count in that comparison. Today though it was not Dakota asking to open a present; no it was me this time. Ever since that package arrived yesterday I have thought about little else. I had no idea how cruel Trina could be. What was even more frustrating was that I already knew what was in the box I wanted to open so it didn’t even seem like I was getting to open a present. Still, Trina had wrapped the gift so technically it was now a present and I had to wait until Christmas morning to open it. That fact didn’t stop me from lobbying to open one gift the night before. What was even more frustrating was that I could not see a box of that shape and size under the tree meaning that even if Trina finally relented and agreed to allow me to open one present I wasn’t sure which one it was. And the last thing I wanted was to open the wrong gift. There’s nothing worse than opening a gift that you think is an NL Western Division Champion sweatshirt and instead finding a can of mixed nuts or a tie. I spent most of the day doing stealth reconnaissance trying to figure out which box my sweatshirt may be and whether I was confident enough to make a case for opening a gift. Trina had now reached a new pinnacle of sneakiness and I wasn’t sure I liked how this was playing out. So rather than chance it, I relented to wait until morning. That meant only one thing; I needed to do whatever it took to make Christmas morning come faster.
We have a family tradition where we have dinner together then we watch a Christmas movie. Once the movie is completed then the children retrieve their Christmas stockings and carefully place them where they hope Santa will deposit their presents during the night. We don’t have a fireplace so the kids usually choose a chair or couch for Santa to deliver their presents. I equate this choosing of a place to something similar to how wild dingoes mark their territory. Many a battle has been waged over territorial rights to a specific piece of real estate. This marking is followed by setting out milk and cookies for Mr. Claus and sprinkling reindeer food on the front lawn to give Santa’s steeds something to munch on during their long journey. Reindeer food around our house appears to consist of oatmeal and some sort of trail mix. I have no idea who came up with that one, it was definitely not me I can tell you that. All of these activities take time. I thought if I could either begin these activities earlier or curtail them slightly it would mean we could get to bed earlier and hence Christmas would come quicker. The kids were completely with me on this theory but Trina balked at the thoughts of having Christmas Eve dinner at 11 AM in the morning. I accused her of being a procrastinator but even that didn’t help and I found myself once again vetoed. I was further shot down when I suggested that dinner be confined to a hot dog and we eliminate the appetizer and dessert. If I were going to find a time savings I would need to be a little more creative. My first attempt was to eliminate the time necessary for leaving Santa a snack. Rather than taking time to put cookies and milk out I went to my desk and retrieved my remaining Chalupa coupons that I got at the ballpark. I also included free ThirstBusters so he had something to drink as well. I left 10 Chalupa coupons on the plate figuring that would include Santa and all the reindeer including Rudolph (if he’s working tonight). The kids questioned whether reindeer actually eat Chalupas. I have to admit I have no idea but I figure that is Santa’s problem not mine. I next considered changing the movie selection. Instead of the traditional Christmas movie I suggested that perhaps we just watch a couple of episodes of the Eric Byrnes show which is 23 minutes if you skip through the commercials with the Tivo. Trina and the kids mounted a quick and overwhelming denial to that suggestion and I was forced to endure 95 minutes of Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick. After what seemed like an eternity the movie ended and the kids had successfully marked their territory for stocking placement and were off to bed. I can already tell, this is going to be the longest night of the year.