There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
— Erma Bombeck
When I was a child, I hated suspense, and all my energy went into solving mysteries quickly. I generally figured out who did what where in the game Clue, where the flag was in Stratego and what I was getting for Christmas. Let’s face it, parents have a limited number of places they can hide the loot, nor can they buy it all Christmas Eve after we were in bed. My first acting classes were pretending to be surprised Christmas morning. My motivation came when I was quite young, and I opened gifts Christmas morning and discovered I got nothing I had asked for. My disappointment was plain, and so was the reaction of my crestfallen parents. Thereafter, I made sure to get the genuine reaction out of the way so I would have time to simulate joy.
I was only deprived in my own mind, other kids had less than I did. Our house was warm, I had my own room, I had plenty to eat and even occasionally new clothes. Now that I’m a parent, and I am spoiling my own children (my point of view), I realize that they are not satisfied either. No, that small box does not have an iphone 5 S and, no, that large box is not an XBox.
I will sit down and play board games. I have stories up both sleeves. We can play piano and sing carols together. I will watch movies with them, supplying popcorn and hot chocolate. These few Christmases before they leave to make their own lives have a precious magic, and I plan to enjoy every minute, even the bad ones.
This season, more than any others, our expectations collide with reality, sometimes in a painful way. We long for things. Sometimes material things like an iphone, sometimes just a picture perfect day where all goes well and nothing explodes into unpleasantness, but that isn’t how life works. The more expectations a day has, the more likelihood of disappointment. Sometimes, like when I was a kid, you don’t get what you want, despite putting your whole soul into hoping for it. Sometimes the things you want, you get and they don’t make you happy after all.
I always long for a white Christmas, and here we are knee-deep in snow, the sidewalks are icy and the wind slicing. The lights I put up were knocked down by the weight of the snow and then froze into a snowbank. Yeah. A white Christmas. I have to laugh at myself for wanting snow, although I did enjoy taking the kids sledding with their friends. I can’t count the number of times I bellowed, “Clear the bottom!”
I wanted a piano this year, and I took in a free piano for the cost of moving it, but it is in such bad shape, a tuner has already spent over two hours, and it’s stubbornly resisting all importuning. Yeah. A piano. I’m told it will improve soon, by the tuner, who had to leave for another appointment but whom I long to believe. My kids are thrilled, but I can’t bear the sound of it, and it’s an enormous paperweight at the moment.
Having a sense of irony is what makes it all come right in the end. Someday, I’ll say: remember the time we got all that snow right before Christmas, and the lights we strung all fell off the bushes? We had such a good time sledding. Or: remember the piano that was so bad none of the keys worked?
I hope my children are happy Christmas morning, but if they are not, that’s okay. Someday it will make a funny story, and they will learn to cope with disappointment. Because that’s part of life, too.
Shiny, happy faces,
ruthless ripping of wrapping
What reaction will come?
Oh no! Why end on such a cynical note!?! Even the piano improves with playing. A little.
icicles drip steadily
our first thaw has come
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham
Inspired by the weekly Haībun prompt.