“I gotta go, I’m in a rush! We’re doing Christmas tonight.”
“Wait, what? Oh… relatives coming into town early and staying over the holidays?”
“Nope. Just celebrating Christmas, like, you know, opening gifts. An abridged version, basically. We kept the most important part—presents without the chore of a dinner with all the trimmings and family arguing over the turkey.”
“But… it’s December 12.”
I walked away, leaving my gym friend completely puzzled, and I hurried home.
Rule #235 of backpacking, don’t travel with Christmas presents.
Rule #546 of parenting, celebrate a chosen big-holiday-of-the-year—Christmas, Hanukah, whatever—with presents.
I’m getting pretty good at staging Christmas before Christmas to meet both requirements.
This year, I asked Mark to write a letter to Santa to let him know he should stop by early. Strangely enough, the only words he spelled correctly were “Peru” and “Santiago”—I’m pretty sure neither of them is in the Grade 2 Ontario Curriculum.
“And now what?”
“I’ll send the letter tonight after you go to bed and hopefully Santa will come…”
“… before December 17.”
At this stage, “Santa” wasn’t sure which day Christmas would be because “Santa” had three deadlines and a lot of work to wrap up before the trip. But “Santa” has learned from last year’s early Christmas that Mark needed time to play with new toys before leaving them behind for a little while.
On December 12, Santa left a note to Mark. “It’s me! I stopped by!”
Mark immediately reported the news and started to look for his presents.
We hide gifts at home. I’d love to claim it’s an ancient Chinese tradition or French folklore but it’s just because Mark loves fun scavenger hunts.
Feng and I just sat on the floor in the living room, offering clues.
It takes him forever to find anything.
“Wait… you got him another 100-piece building blocks set?”
“He loves them!”
“I know, but all I can picture right now is us—…”
“…—picking the fucking blocks off the stairs every night. Yep.”
“I GOT ONE! IT WAS ON THE WASHING MACHINE! Where should I go now?”
“Why don’t you take a break and sit on the sofa…”
“ANOTHER ONE! UNDER THE CUSHION!”
It was actually pretty fun.
And so we opened the gifts, laughed, played…
… and then we resumed the long packing process.
Where will we be for Christmas?
Not sure yet.
Should be fun too, though.