The year was 2003. And we had just moved into a tiny house near the foot of the
Darlene and my bedroom was at the front end of the house, and across the hall our two little girls shared a bedroom. Alannah was just to turn three; Ashley-Rae was one-and-a-half. The living room was the next room over, with the tree tucked into the corner.
I do not remember the presents we had for the kids that year. I do have the tapes, and I just recently converted them to DVD. But I was not thinking quick enough to capture this specific event on the video camera.
Darlene and I had stayed up late Christmas Eve, down in the basement wrapping. We finished about 3 AM and snuck all the presents upstairs, and quietly placed them under the tree. And then we went to bed.
We woke up to cartoons on the TV at about 6:30 AM. And we rolled over, looked at each other – and gasped “Oh NO!!”
You see, up until then, we had contained the movement of our children by those child-gates – the ones you wedge between the walls of a hallway or door jam. But this morning there was no child-gate between the girls and the Christmas Tree. And we both realized it at the very same moment!
We rolled out of bed and ran around the corner into the living room. The TV show “Big-Comfy-Couch” was on, and Alannah was sitting in the middle of the floor watching intently.
There was ripped open wrapping paper all over the floor. On top of the paper were the gifts – everyone’s gifts. Well mostly everyone’s gifts, all unwrapped. Luckily Alannah had come across a box of chocolates for her Uncle Glenn. They were opened – the little papers all around the floor, and Alannah turned to smile at us with that special “chocolate ringed mouth”.
I am ashamed to say – we were mad. For that initial instant I yelled. Quickly I and Darlene realized that there was nothing to be mad at, nothing at all – but ourselves. We did not barricade the tree. We did not give either of the girls instructions.
We screwed up.
It was hilarious.
I kept the girls both occupied, while Darlene, with some type of miracle gift-wrapping skill – like superman in high-speed – she wrapped the presents back up.
And we resumed our Christmas. And we watched Alannah open all her gifts again. She must have thought she got twice as many presents – because of all the unwrapping she did.
And as we all remember – it’s the actual unwrapping process that we all enjoy so dearly.
Now as the girls are 5 and nearly seven, we no longer use the child-gate. Life has indeed gotten easier.
As we approach this holiday season, I and my family would like to wish you all a happy holiday season.
And I would like to thank all of you who have sent me the wonderful emails over the last year. It is that kind of feedback that really makes this writing site so much fun for me.
Who knows, maybe my Christmas wish will come true this year, and I can start writing professionally.
The problem with that wish is that it might come true.
Merry Christmas to all.