I knew this was going to happen.
My mother had this brilliant idea that the kids should open all their gifts on Christmas Eve. I have to say here that when I was a kid, we begged and begged every year to open gifts early. My mother would finally give in and let us open one thing and it had to be the smallest item we had under the tree. As an adult, I ask myself now, “Why did she make us beg every year if she knew she would eventually say yes to one thing? Was that sadistic or what?”
Anyway, Mae woke up this morning and came to the foot of the bed where Hubby and I were sleeping. After confirming that, yes, today is Christmas, she asked if she has more presents. I said, “No, you opened all your gifts last night.”
She asked, “What about the gifts from Santa?”
I said, “Well, mommies and daddies buy most of the gifts. Santa is like a cartoon character.”
Mae reminded me that she once received a letter from Santa. I’d forgotten about that letter, courtesy of one of my aunts who had a lot of free time on her hands that season. I told Mae that I didn’t have an explanation for that. It’s hard to convince her of even simple things when her mind is made up, and I lacked the mental energy and clarity to work that one out this morning.
Mae decided that she would check under the tree anyway. She came back disappointed, saying that she wanted more gifts. This is the case with her anyway. She always wants more. Her wish list was 57 items long and after I had her highlight her top 3 wishes and told her to stop adding items, she continued to ask verbally for more stuff. Last night, when Jay opened his stuffed dolphin that can be unzipped and flipped into a pillow, Mae said that she wanted one of those too. It was an item that she had written on Jay’s list for him, so I asked Mae why she didn’t put it on her own list. She didn’t know she wanted it at the time. Grrr.
I wish I could strike the whole gift-giving and getting aspect of Christmas, unless it involves giving to those truly in need. I see that in our future as the kids get older. I like the aspects that involve getting together with family, which we did yesterday. One of my mother’s brothers and five of her sisters were there in addition to a slew of cousins. There were almost 70 of us. I saw cousins that I hadn’t seen in so many years. There is nothing like the comfort and familiarity of family. Who else can show up at a party with some of the pigs-in-the blanket missing and a pack of napkins already opened? It’s all good.
I visited family on my father’s side on Friday. I drove up to one aunt’s house and, next to it, where my paternal grandparent’s house once stood, there were piles of rubbish and a brick chimney. My feelings were hurt. Of course, I have no right to the house, no right to a say in whether it stays or goes. Still.
It was an old house when I was a kid. I used to sit by my grandma for hours at a time, she in her green pleather armchair, me at the end of the matching couch so that I could be as close to her as possible. We watched the CBS soap operas and the CBS evening news and whatever was in between. I don’t believe the channel ever changed. She chain smoked and when she ran out of cigarettes, she would send me to the club down the street for another pack (it was the ’70s). For dinner, she would let me have a plate of steaming hot white rice with as much butter as I wanted. I was her eldest grand and I got away with a lot at her house.
I was unprepared to see the house torn down. I thought I would cry, and if Mae hadn’t been with me, I probably would have. I asked my aunt how my grandfather, who now lives with a different aunt, felt about it. She said that he doesn’t know and they will not tell him. Ummm. It’s a small town and even at 91, he’s still of mostly sound mind. Auntie didn’t feel good about the demolition either. It was my uncle’s idea. She told me that she tried to help with the process and had three unfortunate incidents before she walked away: she came across a big snake in the backyard, something exploded when she tried to burn some trash, and she fell through the floor when she tried to pull up carpet. Omens, I tell you. Probably my grandmother’s spirit at work.
I’m a fan of following your gut when you get that bad feeling. I should have followed my gut about the whole gift unwrapping business. I’ve learned my lesson.