Columns

2007.12.27 An alternative Christmas

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I feel like the luckiest woman in America right now. Maybe it’s only because I am easy to please (OK, I know several members of my family would disagree with that statement. OK, ALL of the members of my family would disagree), but I am just so happy that I have the family I have and that they are so accommodating.

I waited until the last minute to decide if we were going up north to ski instead of having a traditional Christmas at home. I’m glad I did because the weather prediction for the day we would have left sounded pretty awful and I hate being on the road during adverse weather.

Whiteouts, four to seven inches of snow, high winds—it just didn’t seem worth it to brave that kind of weather when everybody would have been just as content to stay home.

The problem with deciding at the last minute is that my backup plan did not involve the kind of gifts that would elicit shouts of joy on Christmas morning. My backup plan involved wrapping up gifts from years past...and tucking money inside them.

And, other than a few little things, I totally forgot about stocking stuffers. My plan was to buy them Sunday after we picked up Ben at the airport in Toledo and ate lunch and before we went to watch the just released movie, Juno.

But Ben’s plane was delayed an hour and a half, service was slow at the restaurant, and the closest theatre showing the movie was in Southgate, 49 miles from Toledo.

Rozee had pointed out we could wait until later in the week when Juno would be showing in Toledo, and David hinted at the folly of driving so far for a movie, but I was hell-bent on seeing it Sunday.

I wanted to welcome Ben home with something special—lunch at our family’s favorite restaurant, Jing Chuan—and a movie that had received four out of four stars and five out of five stars, depending on the reviewer.

And, heck, we would have traveled 246 miles up north, so what was a mere 49?

Well, in the time it took to travel to Southgate and back, I could have bought some nifty stocking stuffers. Instead, my children suffered through fishing lures and   tiny Christmas tree erasers, pencil sharpeners and magnets, dorky barrettes made with bright red and green Christmas ribbons and other items scavenged from what could be called The Bookshelf of Unwanted Presents because I sure found a lot of stocking stuffers and a selection of “re-gifts” there.

Usually, on Christmas morning, our kids wake up at the crack of dawn, locate their stockings, jump on our bed to wake us up, and eagerly rummage through their stockings.

This year, they slept in. I was overjoyed since I’d been up late as usual wrapping presents and stuffing stockings. This year, when early-riser David climbed back in bed at 8 a.m. expecting the kids to come pouncing soon, they still hadn’t awakened. When I awoke again around 10, they were still sleeping.

“Maybe we should go jump on them and wake them up,” David suggested. It’s not often I get a chance to wake anybody up so I was game—and, boy, were they surprised.

But not as surprised as I was when Ben spilled the beans.

We were in the middle of saying goodbye to the Begnoches a couple of nights before Christmas when my three children, standing off to the side by the Christmas tree, started laughing.

“What? What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Ben just told Maddie what he got her for Christmas,” said Rozee.

“Ben!” I said with mock shock.

“No, I didn’t,” he said. “I just told her what it started with.”

“‘Wah?’” I asked, pronouncing the first syllable of her gift.

He shook his head “yes.”

“That’s just like telling her!” I accused.

Rozee and I already knew that he had gotten her a watch. Now Maddie did, too.

I wasn’t really upset. No, the fiercest disagreements around our house go something like this:

“Who put the toilet paper on wrong?” I complain.

“What’s wrong?” asks Rozee. “I hung it the way I thought I should.”

“In our house?” I yell. “In our house we always hang it so it comes over the top.”

“Look, Rozee,” Maddie says, slightly exasperated. She demonstrates on the toilet paper roll, “You spin it around and it’s easier to find it, easier to rip it.”

“Aren’t I lucky, Maddie, that I don’t care which way it hangs?” asks Rozee. “Then I’ll never be disappointed when it’s not on ‘right.’”

That’s a handy attitude to have around our house on Christmas morning.

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