Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good plight.

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There was a journal entry over in Tenacious G's journal that I started to comment on, but realized I was starting to write a novel in the comment, so I guess I'll copy it here and add enough detail to make it a proper journal entry.

With my family, we always had to wait until Christmas morning to open any presents. Specifically, Christmas morning when Mom and Dad were awake. My little sister and I would wake up at 6am and have little conferences that shifted between our rooms, nervously waiting until our parents awoke. We would also talk about what we were hoping to get and how cool it would be once we got it and were able to run around the neighborhood with a cheezy little remote-controlled car (it didn't seem cheezy at that age; it was the coolest thing ev-AR), or whatever we had asked Santa for. I think in the later years, I had a little, yet huge, black and white television (a giant box with a little 6″ screen) that we would try to distract ourselves with while waiting.

Finally, the parents were up and we had to proceed to stockings–no peeking at presents until all the stockings were open. The presents were under the tree in the other room. Of course, I would peek over to the tree (always out of the corner of my eye). If I saw a giant flat box, and asked Santa for a big Lego set, I knew the score–which made the stocking delay so much more aggravating. Sometimes I thought my parents were intentionally being slow. “Hey, look, candy.” “Hey, look, a jar of peanuts.” “Hey, a box of colored pens.” “We need to take turns opening things, one person opening at a time.” I had not thought of this in a long time, but Dad would always get a little Playboy monthly calendar in his stocking (I think he even still gets them). At the time it did not strike me as odd, but in retrospect, it seems like a strange present “from Santa.” I think my parents teamed up to fill the kid stockings, but they surprised each other with their stocking contents, so it's not like he was getting it for himself.

All the stockings open? Check. Time to go to the tree and see the big thing Santa left for my sister and I. Time to tear open the wrapping, say “Wow! Legos! That's what I wanted!” And then go eat breakfast. (??!!?!) Yep, we could only open the big present, no more. The rest had to wait until AFTER breakfast. It did not matter so much though, since inevitably, I would get completely wrapped up in building the Lego castle or affixing decals to the Millennium Falcon or whatever.

Traditional Christmas breakfast always consisted of Eggs Benedict and a backup food. My sister and I always had to have a few bites of the eggs just to prove we were putting forth the effort (I like all sorts of eggs, but not those), then grab a bowl of cereal or have Mom make us some scrambled eggs. There were also sausages (bleh!) and bacon (yumm!).

By this time, it was pretty late in the morning and we could see the neighbor kids running around outside with their new bikes, stilts, toy guns, G.I. Joe vehicles, Transformers, or whatever. We had to go back to the tree. Sure, we would get a couple more cool things, but most of the rest of the packages were clothing box shaped–for good reason. “Thanks, Mom. A brown striped sweater. Just what I always wanted. Socks and underwear. Nifty.”

Later in the day would be a trip to my Uncle's house to be uncomfortable around all the relatives I barely knew. Lots of food would be there. Lots of presents were there too, but they were those sort of obligational presents from family members that did not know you, so they were always a little disappointing. “Hey, a sweater vest. Thanks, Uncle.” I think I still have that sweater vest, and I think it still has the tag on it.

[Argh, the light in this room just burned out.] In recent years, things have not changed too much. Wake up, drive to parents, breakfast first (which I usually skip), stockings, presents, drive home. Drive to Uncle's “house” which he is very happy to show off–uberexpensive tapestry in the stairwell, he had to pay people to hang it, putting green in back yard, grand piano, antique furniture, etc. The big funny is that it is not really “his” house exactly. It's a duplex, it's a condo, it shares a wall with the neighbors, it's under the iron-fist jurisdiction of the ubiquitous Irvine Company. I mean, if you want your golf buddies (and extended family, I guess) to be impressed by your palatial estate, try to avoid an address that ends in “Unit B.” Whatever. I would be happy with a humble little non-rental home.

The big difference in modern times is that I (that is to say we, that is to say Kate and I) have to juggle around the holiday-time activities of two families. It was easy for Thanksgiving (my parents were on vacation), but will be a little more challenging on Christmas.

I think I am going to sign out, put on Martin Atkins' Industrial Christmas Carol, and listen to the music interlaced with samples about suicide bombers and the commercialization of Christmas (a message just as valid now as it was when the album was produced in '95). I see the world getting closer and closer to the Christmas in the movie Brazil. “What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas, little girl?” “My own credit card.”

Posted in: Dear Diary

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