It’s March and apparently I’ve already ruined Christmas. Which is odd because historically I haven’t had a lot to do with the planning of this monumental event.
“Dad! What?!” was the first I knew there was a problem in the seats behind me. “Why would you do that?”
What I’d done was to sit at a table with a couple of my friends sipping gin & tonics and talk about family – which, as it can do when inebriated conversations start stumbling about, eventually lead to a discussion on Christmas traditions.
“We sit around the tree and hand out presents one at a time,” my friend told me. “It gives you a chance to make really bad guesses about what it might be. Like if you have a watch sized box you might make a guess it’s a chainsaw.”
“A chainsaw?” I questioned him.
“Well, I knew it wasn’t a jetski,” he said. “Too small.”
“We spent Christmas with a friend’s family a few years ago and they did it all wrong,” his wife continued. “They handed all the presents out and then everyone opened them at the same time.”
“Chaos,” agreed her husband. “No one got to make silly guesses.”
I acknowledged it was clearly the wrong way to go about it – but was immediately outed.
“That’s what we do,” said Master11. He’d been sitting with us soaking up adult banter and having a giggle.
“No, we don’t,” I said to him. Not sure why I was feeling defensive, but there was definitely a whiny defiance in my tone – like eight year old me had just been dobbed in to my mummy for flogging change out of her purse. I turned to my friends. “No, we don’t,” I assured them.
“Not at first,” Master11 went on, “but by the end you’re just handing them out to everyone.”
I was going to explain that of course we bloody do because our ‘everyone’ is made up of a lot more people than most families and I’ve usually been dragged into the family room without even a first coffee of the day. Besides which, I always worry the prawns in the fridge are getting lonely.
Instead I went with a pouty, “You think you can do better?”
“Yes,” he challenged.
“Fine,” I said. “This year you can play Santa’s helper and hand out the presents under the tree. Is that what you want?”
“Really? Hell, yes!” he exclaimed excitedly, jumping at it like a husband at the delete history setting when he hears the missus pulling up in the driveway. “And I can do it any way I want?”
He seemed to be waiting for me to retract my offer, but my head was filling with visions of me ducking into the kitchen for breakfast prawn sandwiches and fresh cups of Joe while the family remained engaged and happy around the tree instead of around me.
“Why not,” I said. I mean, they’re labeled so how badly can he stuff it up?
I should have asked his sister.
“Why would you agree to that?” a shrill Miss13 wanted to know when Master11 chose our roadtrip from Minnie Water to Canungra to inform her of his new role. Suddenly the 300km drive was looking a lot longer.
“It’ll be fine,” I assured her over my shoulder, trying to calm things down. I assumed she was upset at a younger sibling taking on an adult role she possibly saw as rightfully hers first. “You can have next year if you want, but he’s in charge of distributing the presents under the tree this year. I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”
I was proven wrong almost immediately.
“So you know,” said Miss13, getting to the main problem as she saw it, “he’s decided to open everyone’s presents himself?”
“You did say I could do it any way I want, Dad.”
So that’s my big contribution to Christmas 2017. I think I might let Tracey take it from here.
I’m sure, when I explain the mix up to her, she’ll be rather pleased I’ve given her nine months to sort this out.