Impatient Presents [Tall Drink of Nerd]
Presents excite me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gift for me or from me, I can’t wait to have the thing unwrapped and opened. There is a mystery under that red dancing snowman paper and the anticipation is killing me.
I’m pretty sure the root of this impatience is all my parents fault. Every Christmas Eve when I was a kid, we would head over to Grandma and Grandpa Berg’s house. My Mom’s whole family of siblings and cousins, about 45 of us, loaded into the living room. We started the evening off with a round of Christmas carols, which always ended with Grandpa singing “Silent Night” in German (I still remember all the words to the first verse…Stille Nacht, etc…) After the, let’s be honest, really horrible singing, presents were handed around. Mom’s family did a name exchange, so everybody got two presents, one from the gift exchange and one from the grandparents. With 25 grandkids to buy for, I do remember the year we all got tube socks from Grandma.
Then Mom and Dad would pile all 5 of their kids into the car and drive us 30 miles down the chilly country highway, back to our home. I remember looking at the millions of stars in the clear sky, singing more Christmas songs and wondering where Santa was at that exact moment.
At home, we were scurried off to bed hastily. The bedroom door was left open a crack, so the flashing lights that wound around the tree reflected down the hallway and across the bunk beds I shared with my sister, Janet. Even though we were so excited for Christmas morning, all the sugar we’d consumed at Grandma’s party had us crashed pretty quickly to the sounds of our parents whispering in the living room.
But that sleep was short lived. Normally, around 3:00 a.m. Janet would whisper “Are you awake?” and I’d respond with a quiet peep of “yes.” She grabbed the flashlight we’d stashed under the bed earlier in the day and out into the living room we’d creep. The evidence was there under the tree. Santa had come!
There would be a pile of presents for each child. 1/2 wrapped and 1/2 unwrapped. Finally I knew a little bit of what my Christmas presents were! After a few minutes of showing off the unwrapped toys to each other, we’d sneak back to bed. That was when sleep was illusive. I couldn’t wait to get up and play with my new stuff!
Soon dawn came and we’d bound out towards the gifts, then poking our tiny heads through our parents bedroom door to encourage them to wakefulness. Time to get up! Santa came! Get up and see what he brought!!
There is a story in my family of the year that has become myth. The year that Santa didn’t leave anything in the middle of the night. I was 6 months old. There were no presents under the tree on Christmas morning. My brothers and sisters cried, wondering how they had been forgotten by Santa. When the time came to go to church my Mother “forgot” her scarf and went back to the house, promising to meet the family at the services. Sure enough, when they got back from church, Santa had dropped of the loot.
I asked Mom if “Santa” went AWOL because she had 5 kids, including one infant and she just fell asleep. She told me “No”. They planned it that way. My father worked as a hired hand on a farm, he was always gone at dawn to work, even on Christmas Day. He never got the chance to see how the kids reacted on Christmas morning. So Mom figured out a way he could be there, after church, to see how happy his own children were that Santa came. That year, he was in on the magic too.
So maybe it’s not their fault, maybe I’m just impatient to see what’s in the box. There is a magic in that waiting. There is a magic in watching someone you love open a gift you made just for them.
So are you patient? Can you leave a present from your boss on your desk for a few days? Do you urge your friends to unwrap that gift you just handed them? I can’t be entirely sure when my present impatience started. All I know is, right now there is a pile of wrapped packages under my Christmas tree. I wouldn’t lay odds on those making it all the way to Christmas Day.
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featured image credit: Leo Reynolds