so this was christmas
Christmas 2003, come and gone.
And now I sit here, surrounded by discarded wrapping paper, crushed up boxes and piles of presents that have to be put in their proper places. I have my annual Christmas sickness; this year it's laryngitis with what appears to be bronchitis, maybe even swollen glands. But I really don't mind being sick the day after Christmas. It gives me an excuse to just sit on the couch all day playing with my new toys.
This year it's the GameCube and I've got an extender for the controller so I can lay there all day, propped up with pillows and covered with a blanket and just hit those buttons and curse at the games. Just like the old days!
I miss the old controllers when your only choices were up, down, left, right, A and B. Now you have as many choices as a pilot looking at an instrument panel. If you want to use this weapon, hold down X while simultaneously pressing Y, using your pinky to quickly hit the Z switch. North, west, south west. I did that in my dream last night, leading Link around the bushes, killing spiders and other assorted pixelated creatures.
The son is in the other room playing Double Dash. By the end of the day, he will be complaining about a cramp in his hand. The daughter is on her GameCube, playing Super MonkeyBall2 (thank you Stacy and family, you made Christmas spectacular!) Is there not something creepy about a game in which you guide a monkey who is encased in a plastic ball through all kinds of mazes and games? In Monkey Billiards, the monkeys themselves are playing pool and they are cueing up and smashing their pool sticks against other monkeys in balls! Bizarre. Even more bizarre is the fact that when I turned off MonkeyBall last night (I couldn't play because I kept questioning how the monkeys could breathe in those balls) Bubble Boy was on one of the ten thousand cable channels. All I needed was the Simpsons episode where Bart is in that bubble and I would have had a bubble trifecta!
Anyhow. There are movies to be watched as well. I got Christmas Vacation and the Back to the Future boxset, Justin got Winged Migration and Ninja Scroll and Nick Cave's God is in the House DVD. Before all that, though, is my Very Special Present of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Space Ghost Coast to Coast DVDs. Before Link, before Sonic, I deal with Meatwad.
What else was there? CDs for the kids that I will probably borrow and CDs for me that the kids will probably borrow. My parents bought the son a new stereo for his room (I think it goes to 11) and thankfully, my parents are smart enough to have bought him headphones as well.
We've got books; The Art of Simon Bisley and the Zombie Survival Guide. We've got wonderful trinkets - Nightmare Before Christmas champagne glasses, jigsaw puzzles, Peet's Kona coffee, a new coffee grinder.
And we gave. We gave an awful lot, which is my favorite part of Christmas, depsite the cost and stress. I aim for the perfect presents for my family. I doubt they are ever perfect (everyone knows the perfect gift is either cash or a brand new car), but they are always well-received and bring smiles to faces and yes, Christmas is all about the smiles and sharing. I love my family, love them fiercely. I am of the firm belief that nobody has a better immediate family than I do. Make that extended family; Christmas Eve was our annual (started even before I was born) get together at the aunt's house, and there was the exchanging of gifts and eating of stuffed squid and the exuberance of all the kids. Lots of kids. So many kids. If I ever invite you to my aunt's for Christmas Eve, bring Excedrin.
December 25th may be gone, but Christmas is not. Not until we have opened and assembled the last present, not until we have tried out every single gift given us, even the clothes that don't fit and the games that look lame, not until we have stuffed our faces with leftovers for as many days as it takes to get rid of them, not until a drunken, rousing rendition of Christmastime in Hell with my sister, and not until New Year's Eve when we toast to my dad's birthday and the changing of the year, is Christmas really over. Even then, the spirit lingers a bit as we take our time dismantling the tree and get ready for the three events that mark the real end to our holiday season; the Super Bowl and both the son's and daughter's birthdays.
11 and 14. That's the ages they will be before the school winter break comes. They are mini adults. I think I'll take them to see Peter Pan this week to give them a gentle reminder: don't be in a hurry to grow up. In fact, don't ever grow up. Once you do, not only will Christmas lose its magic, but so will life in general.
Me? Nope, I haven't grown up yet and I guess at this point - 41 years down the road - I won't. And even if start to get old and crochety, if I start to ignore some of life's wonderful magic, there's always Christmas morning to bring back the twinkle in my eyes and the kid in my heart.
It's been a wonderful Christmas. It still is.