It’s a bit early, but bear with me. I get to be the mom and tell a tale on Em. (Payback for “Okla-ohshit-homa”…)
When she was just a wee type, about three years old, she was such a cutie. Red hair, porcelain skin, big brown eyes and a yellow stuffed cat permanently attached to her arm.
One Christmas we were having the family to our house. We open a few gifts on Christmas eve at my in-laws, then they and my parents would come over Christmas morning to open the rest.
My parents lived in a nearby town and we’d been there a few days before, bringing gifts home with us to save them some hauling.
(Children should leave now – major spoiler alert!)
Because we have four children, Christmas eve becomes rather hectic. “Santa” must fill the stockings, eat the cookies, drink the milk, and put every 412-piece Barbie dream house or matchbox car set together before finally being able to lay his/her head on the pillow – only to be awakened at 5 a.m. by squealing laughter and whispers of ‘look what Santa brought’ …’can we open our stockings now?’… ‘when can we open presents?’ That’s the way it’s supposed to work anyway. That is until a little red-headed-pea-picker (as Hubby called her) came up with another plan.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care (okay, we didn’t have a chimney – they were hung on the entertainment center). The cookies and milk were history. The ‘santa’ gifts were wrapped – always in paper different than any under the tree – that had to be hidden away since, of course, I wouldn’t have the same paper as Santa! To bed, to bed… at last… to bed.
Noises penetrate the fog of sleep. What am I hearing? It makes no sense. I start to follow where I think I’m hearing the noise. Downstairs. Uh-oh. Downstairs – where the Christmas tree is. I round the corner and there she is…my sweet little red-headed devil child. Happy as a clam amidst paper and ribbon and boxes. All over the room. She turns and gives me a million-watt smile and says, “Hi mommy!”
Damn.Damn.Damn. Now what do I do? As much as I wanted to pull her limb from limb, you can’t exactly beat your child to within an inch of their lives on Christmas Eve, can you? Believe me… I had to have that discussion with myself for a good 10 minutes. I pick her up, tell her she isn’t to tell the other kids about what they’re getting. (She’s always been unusually good at keeping secrets.) …and sent her off to bed with a hug.
Now becomes the fun part. I get to re-wrap everything! Oh, yeah… including my parents’ gifts. No clue who they go to, but by God, they got wrapped. Needless to say it made for an interesting Christmas morning. I’m sure glad she found other things to facinate her as the years went on!
I pity her husband… and her dog.