How to ruin Christmas
Well, it’s just about that time of year again. You can feel it in the air and you can see it in people’s faces. It’s time to ruin Christmas.
Ruining Christmas is a wonderful tradition dating back to, well, dating back to Christmas. I mean, there were all kinds of characters trying to ruin that first Christmas. Not only were there all those jerk innkeepers who said there were no vacancies, there was also the one innkeeper who was supposed to be such a great guy because he let Joseph and Mary stay in his barn.
Nice. Wow. How generous. What a hero. I’ve tried to ruin a few Christmases in my day but I also went out of my way to not ruin Christmas occasionally.
One year, around this time, I casually wandered into my dad’s little workshop in our basement and right there, in plain view, was a road hockey net that looked just like the one I identified in the Sears “Christmas Wish Book.”
Did I freak out and try to drag it out of the house and into the street so I could start ripping tennis ball snappers top shelf ? Did I go running to my parents to tell them that I found my not-so-hidden present and it has my faith in Santa shook? No. No, I did not.
I looked around, made sure no one saw me, quietly backtracked, shut the door and got the heck away from this little crime scene.
I wasn’t always such an angel. Another year I remember very well waking up in the middle of the night and tiptoeing out to the living room to sneak a peek and see if Santa came. Well ... he did! Did he ever.
Even in the darkness, it looked like I must have been a really good boy that year. Not like, “Meh, yeah, sure you can go ahead and give birth in my barn” nice. But nice.
I could see a stocking overflowing with stuff and lots of wrapped presents that I just knew contained toys that required “some assembly” and those presents were always the best.
Twirly table hockey tables required “some assembly.” Race car sets required “some assembly.” The “Planet of the Apes” tree fort playset I wanted required all kinds of assembly and I was just betting it was under that tree and I was ready to watch my dad assemble it.
We had a thing in my family, though. I couldn’t just open presents. I had to wake up my older sister and then we had to wake up the parents.
Ugh. All these people were older than me, way older, and they didn’t get nearly as excited as me about Christmas because they didn’t have “Planet of the Apes” playsets calling their names.
I tried my sister. She told me to go back to bed. I told her she’s not related to me. I tried my parents. They told me to go back to bed, too.
I went back to bed like a good Christmas boy. And I cried and I cried and I cried and I fell back asleep.
After what felt like hours, maybe days, I woke up and tried the whole routine again. It was 4 a.m. No luck.
So, I cried some more and then worked hard to cry louder and louder until the whole family woke up and then I was jolly again.
What a jerk. But not as big a jerk as my wife when she was a kid.
She once ruined Christmas by convincing her younger sister to get up with her and open everything under the tree without even trying to wake their parents. They went at it and tore the wrapping off a Commodore VIC-20 computer, a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine and all kinds of other things their parents, who really had no money at the time, bought and wrapped all because they wanted to see the joy on their girls’ faces.
But, we tell these stories year after year and we laugh and we laugh. And then we warn our kids not to do anything to ruin Christmas.
Chuck Brown can be reached at [email protected]