For some, it’s the first “Jingle Bells” on the radio station. For others, it’s when all the pumpkin-flavored treats start changing with the season to peppermint.
For me, it’s September or so when the first eggnog hits the shopping shelves.
That first embrace of Christmas comes a little too strong for some, but is always welcome in my house, because it is my – and my goofballs’ – unquestioned favorite holiday.
Sorry, Halloween, but thanks for the costume and 40 pounds of candy.
The happiness I feel for this holiday, like all things in 2020, is being confronted with a pandemic-sized reality.
My family is big, and we celebrate Christmas ever bigger.
December 25, 2020 is going to sting a little. Scaling down the yuletide festivities will be a must in 2020. Scaling down the joy for this season?
My kids deserve a celebratory Christmas. But to make it work, I will need an action plan – one that gives me confidence that Christmas can proceed as close to our regular plan as possible despite a dramatic dip in people there with us.
My itinerary once the kids go to bed…
8 p.m.: While tucking kids in bed, show them that Santa tracker to show where that holly jolly individual currently is. Side note: Talking about the map and nearby countries counts as extra school-learning time. Thanks, Santa.
8:15 p.m.: Say goodnight to the kids. Remind them Santa can check his list one last time if they refuse to go to sleep. Sorry, Santa. You can be the bad guy for one night.
9:30 p.m.: Return to bedroom to comfort crying goofballs, whose excitement refuses to allow them to go to sleep.
9:35 p.m.: Listen to Cooper and Milo swear they will never fall asleep.
9:38 p.m.: Listen to them both snoring after the last ounce of sugar-cookie-energy drains from their bodies.
10 p.m.: Begin last stretch of gift-wrapping and begin assembling that one toy that needs some time. Assure wife will be done in 20 minutes.
12 a.m.: Finish watching George Bailey sprint through Bedford Falls while I realize assembly directions make no sense. Make note to suggest kids get engineering degrees to help daddy for future Christmases.
1:30 a.m.: Finally crack the assembly instructions code. Curse decision to not spend the extra $12 to have store put it together days ago.
5 a.m.: Awaken to kids exclaiming it’s Christmas morning, and time for presents!!
5:01 a.m.: Deliver heartbreaking news that Christmas doesn’t start until 6:30 a.m.
5:04 a.m.: Answer question from kids that it is not yet 6:30.
5:08 a.m.: Answer question from kids that it is not yet 6:30.
5:12 a.m.: Answer question from…you know what? Just repeat this step 50 more times until…
6:30 a.m.: Release the hounds downstairs.
6:35 a.m.: Walk around in shocked amazement that they have successfully destroyed weeks worth of wrapping and boxing.
6:50 a.m.: Coffee finally in-hand, begin installing batteries in new toys. Make note to buy stock in Duracell and Energizer next day.
7:30 a.m.: Citing “the Christmas spirit,” allow kids to have one piece of candy with breakfast.
7:32 a.m.: Immediately regret previous decision.
9:30 a.m.: Use crowbar to pry children off new toys to go to father-in-law’s house for socially distant gathering of about nine of us.
10 a.m.: Watch kids disappear under avalanche of more toys. Consider renting U-Haul for rest of day.
10:30 a.m.: Break up first fight of day over who is touching whose new toy.
10:33 a.m.: Decide their new toy looks really fun, so make up some lame excuse to confiscate it and play with it for next 15 minutes.
12:30 p.m.: Head to my parents’ house for Kids Unwrap-a-thon Take 3.
1:25 p.m.: Sing Christmas songs in order to energize the 10-person party to start dancing and combat the fistfuls of chocolate I see Cooper and Milo sneaking when they think my back is turned.
2:25 p.m.: Win back gift in Yankee Swap, since only a few of us here this year.
3 p.m.: Chuckle warmly as parents unwrap gift that is just a slip of paper saying, “IOU one day of babysitting joy with your grandkids. Redeemable any time. No expiration.”
4:15 p.m.: Consider caroling loudly from middle of street with masks on to neighbors.
6:10 p.m.: Enjoy unofficial 23rd meal of the day, wondering how the heck the kids are still able to take down entire plate of Christmas ham.
7:30 p.m.: Arrive home with ominous warning to kids that Santa will not be arriving tomorrow morning, but they still need to sleep to see their toys again. It’s a classic hostage-taking tactic.
9 p.m.: Drift off to sleep on couch despite excitement to have some alone time.
See, who says this year is going to be lackluster and filled with nothing to do?
We may not be able to all be together this year, but I hope however your holiday season comes together, it does indeed come together as festive and fun as possible.
This pandemic may try to steal our hearts like a Grinch dashing through Whoville in the night. But much like that green-furred grump, it will fail to stop an amazing Christmas from coming.
Christmas failing was, after all, not. An. Option.
From my goofball-happy family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas.
May the New Year kick this one in the teeth and promptly usher it out the side door.
And folks…pay the extra $12 to have someone assemble that toy. It’ll bring you yuletide cheer at the end of a very long day.