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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Christmas Post

Author’s Note: Yes, I realize this post should have happened on the 23rd. The problem was sheer absent mindedness. I had queued up some posts to make sure that the blog was updated without interruption, not realizing that the queue overlapped Christmas. So instead of a post about Christmas, you got a post about Felicia Day.

And you’re complaining?

The hallway is dim in the early morning light. It’s just a little past seven in the morning, and the forecast called for rain. There’s a strange flickering in the living room. It’s colorful, but quiet and regular. Not at all like the glow of the usual morning cartoons.

She steps out of her room, a little bleary but smiling ear to ear. She doesn’t know it’s Christmas, she just knows that she’s awake and both Mommy and Daddy are in their pajamas, which means Daddy is staying home all day. This morning is a little unusual, because Mommy changed her in her room instead of the living room where the diapers are kept. But that’s okay, because it means she can go straight for the kitchen for breakfast, which she always tries to do but is always cut off by one parent or the other to change the diaper she’d been wearing all night.

Breakfast is pancakes, bananas and Reese’s peanut butter cup cereal. Her favorite. She eats each course in order, happy to finally be sitting at the table like a big girl instead of her high chair. As she eats, she looks across the table at her infant brother, who Daddy is feeding. He’s looking at Daddy, watching Daddy eat his own breakfast and wondering why everyone gets to eat brown gooey things but him.

He is, after all, almost three months old. He could totally handle cinnamon rolls.

After the last Reesey puff is deliberately crunched and swallowed, Daddy brushes her teeth and says something about going to the living room.

Who is this “Santa” and why should she care what he brought?

She holds Mommy’s hand as she walks down the hall she’s walked dozens of times before. Breakfast is over, that means it’s time for cartoons. The strange string of festive lights gives her pause, and she hesitates at the threshold. On the shelf sits a tiny tree, no more than a foot high, which was all that Mommy and Daddy had time to unpack and decorate. It wasn’t there when she went to bed.

The seven foot artificial tree sits sullenly in the basement, biding his time. Next year, he tells himself. Next year will be mine.

With some mild coaxing, she steps into the living room, and she sees it. Under the tree sit a menagerie of Fisher Price Little People animals, along with a purple SUV, a farm and a Noah’s Ark. If she remembers that she was given them when she was too young for them, and they were then packed away for a year, she doesn’t let on. Instead she sets upon them, smiling even broader than before, if that’s possible. She picks up each individual figure, regards it, and puts it into a line that has an order only she understands.

Then comes the box of puzzles. Another gift from last Christmas, and she’s thrilled to see them. She enlists Daddy’s help to slide the puzzles out, and she immediately takes out all the pieces, puts them in a pile on the floor, and then gets to putting them back into the puzzles.

Puzzles have ever been her favorite.

Then comes the truly new. Sliceable fruits and vegetables held together with Velcro ™. Mommy and Daddy palmed the little wooden knife that comes with the set, which is technically for an older child, but she doesn’t notice or care. She takes apart each item and lines the pieces up.

Last, comes the wrapped presents. Four large boxes, each part of a set, containing playsets of licensed PBS characters from the show It’s A Big Big World. There’s Snook’s treehouse, Madge’s library, Smooch and Winslow’s bedroom and Birdette’s nest. Mommy struggles with the packaging, muttering unpleasant things about the lineage of whoever thought a plastic treehouse needed eleven billion twist ties.

Seriously, it’s a child’s toy with maybe three moving parts, not a working model of a hadron supercollider.

She waits impatiently, but is tempered by the other goodies spread out under the miniature tree. Finally Mommy frees the molded Snook figure, and hands it to her. She’s thrilled.

While she’s playing with her bounty, Mommy and Daddy present a few gifts to her infant brother. He gets a Bumbo chair, which seems to amuse him and alarm him at the same time. It also enrages him if he’s left in it for too long, but such is the life of a three month old. He also is given an Ugly Doll (Jeero), and it’s the first thing he ever grabs and snuggles with his own hands. Well, he grabs it and smashes it into his face, which sort of looks like snuggling provided you spot him to make sure he hasn’t blocked off all the air to his face.

Mommy and Daddy then exchange gifts with each other. Daddy gives Mommy the new Professor Layton game for the DS. Mommy gives Daddy the latest Schlock Mercenary book.

It’s a light Christmas, but she doesn’t know that yet. All she knows is the living room is awash in fun stuff, and that Mommy and Daddy are both home to play with her. She couldn’t be happier.

After the presents are unwrapped and the paper bagged up and set aside, Mommy and Daddy put in some DVDs. They’re not the usual DVDs. The first one involves an orange cat that eats a lot. She likes him. The second features a kid with a big round head who looks a lot like Caillou, but isn’t as annoying or boring and has a fun dog. One has a kid in glasses who wants a rifle for Christmas. The rifle bears a striking resemblance to one that Grandpa brought with him to give to her when she was first born, but she doesn’t know that yet. Another one involves a tall man in yellow tights getting hit by cars and singing a lot. He’s funny. Later, she falls asleep on the couch while Mommy shows Daddy “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the first time ever.

Yes, really. Daddy is surprised to find that he likes it, even if he’s disappointed that Potter didn’t get his.

That night, after she toddles off to bed, Mommy and Daddy open the presents that they bought themselves with money they’d received earlier. Mommy gets a Pokemon Training Deck, which has enough cards to play a short game with half a deck, or to build a beginner’s deck. Mommy and Daddy try a game, in which they have some fun and manage to misinterpret enough of the rules that they’ll have to start from scratch next time they play.

Daddy gets Batman Arkham Asylum for the PS3. After they play Pokemon, Daddy fires up the PS3 and installs the downloaded content he’s had on his hard drive for months in anticipation of getting this game. It’s better than the demo.

The next day, Mommy leaves the house in the morning to do some grocery shopping and comes back with two additional theme decks for Pokemon, as well as a number of booster packs. In addition, she buys Katamari Forever and Eat Lead; The Return of Matt Hazard for the PS3 as well as Cooking Mama 3 for the DS, which Mommy didn’t even know was out. This finishes off the Christmas money they each got this year, and gives them both a queue of games that should last them for months given how little time there is for gaming with a toddler and an infant.

Mommy and Daddy are big geeks, but so far she doesn’t care. She’s just happy that everybody’s home.

Later that afternoon, she is asleep and Daddy gets a phone call from Grandma and Grandpa. They won’t be able to visit as they had planned, because Grandpa has a cold and the weather is going to make the three hour drive too difficult. Grandma and Grandpa tell Mommy and Daddy to go ahead and have a second Christmas Morning without them. While she sleeps, Mommy goes to the basement and gets the presents from Grandma and Grandpa.

When she wakes up, the room is full of colorful boxes again. She’s starting to get what this means. Grandma and Grandpa got her books. Her favorite thing in the world, except for puzzles, and maybe even above them. Two board books that appear to be made of MDF (Grandma and Grandpa are no fools), a lift-the-flap book, and a bundle of Sesame Street “magazines.” The next morning, on getting out of bed, she will immediately make for the living room couch and look at the magazines one at a time.

Mommy and Daddy got mostly clothes, which they seem to like quite a lot but she can’t imagine why. She’ll understand when she’s older and has to pay for her own clothes, but that’s a long ways off.

And that’s it for Christmas this year. She doesn’t even know the word yet, but next year she will.

I’m already looking forward to it.