The beginnings of my new foray into the land of Stuart McLean like pieces.
It was Christmas Eve and John sat by the fireplace eating his eighth salami and cream cheese sandwich of the night. Not the salami and cream sandwich with bread—the good kind where you just forwent the starchy part and got right to the heart clogging goodness of meat and cheese.
Eating eight salami and cream cheese sandwiches was easy to justify at this time of the year. After all, if you looked at the spread that was laid out on the dining table, a meat and cheese sandwich sat on the healthy side of the Christmas treat fat forming scale.
As Susie Junior and Senior picked jellybeans off the gingerbread house roof, john’s attention turned to the pile of gifts that sat tantalizingly under the tree. Being impatient and loving gifts, John had never understood why people had to wait so long to open gifts that were displayed for such a long time.
“Because their Christmas gifts and it isn’t Christmas yet,” Susie Sr. had tried to explain to him once, but that argument had long ago stopped making sense to him.
“I open my birthday presents before my birthday,” he often would respond. And Susie would always reply…
“And I yell at you for going into my underwear drawer to find them every year.”
Still, there had to be a way to get some of those presents open tonight, he pondered to himself.
“Susie, why don’t we open up some of these gifts tonight,” was the classically tactless dad approach he took.
“Oh God John are we going to go through this again this year?” she asked as her shoulders drooped nearly to the floor.
“No, we’re not, let’s cut the crap, pardon my language. You love Christmas, I love Christmas, let’s get to it. Let’s open these things up. Let’s make a wrapping paper mountain, let’s get some paper cuts.”
“Well what does Junior think? I don’t want us to have nothing to open tomorrow morning.”
“We have 27 presents for her. I don’t see this being a problem.”
For the first time in years, John could see his arguments breaking down the brick wall that had stood between him and early Christmas gifts. This was his fall of the Berlin Wall, his breaking the Babe Ruth curse.
Susie was breaking down. If he could just get her to look at the pile of presents, and specifically at the pile of presents with her name on them, he’d be in a blissful world of wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows within five minutes.
“Here, you start us off,” he said, hading over the biggest and best wrapped gift. “It’s from me and Junior.”
A gift from her little girl was too much to pass up and Susie turned into the human version of a garburator and consumed the gift.
“A hockey jersey,” she said, holding up a gift that looked suspiciously oversized for her and even more suspiciously, perfectly sized for John.
“Oops, must have given you the wrong gift, was that for me then?” John asked, feigning surprise and taking the gift for himself.
Not even a low blow like this could turn the tide of gift opening that had swept up the Slogan household. John quickly grabbed a gift he knew to be Susie Sr.’s and grabbed another that he would open. Without saying a word they got their claws into the second set of gifts, opening them with the fervour of a five-year-old.
Strangely, it was the real five-year-old who was the only one not opening gifts on the fine Christmas night.
“A spa package!” yelled Senior, tears filling her wine soaked eyes.
“An ipad!” yelled John even louder, spilling his eggnog onto the hardwood floors in the process of waving his new toy dangerously though the air.
“A mixer!” Senior squealed imaging all the cookies she’d be able to make, maybe even later that night.
“A Bluray player!” said John, excited even though he owned not one Bluray disk and wasn’t even 100 per cent sure what Bluray was.
“Can I open something?”
Susie Jr. sat, cross legged and starry eyed, patiently watching her parents, afraid to touch any of the gifts lest they think it was one for them and mistakenly open it in their fervour.
The parents quit their gift opening binge and looked at their little daughter, finally realizing how overcome with passion for their presents they had become.
“Not a chance,” John said in a gentle voice. “It’s not Christmas yet sweetie. Santa hasn’t even come for you yet so really, there aren’t any gifts to open.”
“It’s true sweetheart. Christmas Eve is a time for mommy’s and daddy’s to eat disgusting food, drink overindulgent drinks, and open gifts that weren’t meant to be opened. It’s really not supposed to be a fun time for children. Why don’t you go to bed so Santa can come.”
Susie Jr. looked at her parents and shook her head disbelievingly as they slowly turned away from her and back to the gifts under the tree. She knew the word futility and understood that this picture in time demonstrated it best.