Christmas is right around the corner.
The stores are filled to bursting with shoppers looking for a good deal, Christmas trees and house decorations are being put up. Santa Claus is making his rounds to each and every shopping mall in America to see what everyone wants.
You have to wonder how it is the guy makes it to all of these places and still manages to look so fresh after all that travel.
Probably he gets a private jet, a highly specialized team of makeup elves and a well-stocked supply of cookies and milk. I imagine Santa doesn’t want for much while he’s on tour.
This year, like all of the one’s before it, I beg my son to go see him. At ten, he thinks he’s too old. I even promised that if he sits on Santa’s lap, I will too.
He just looks at me with his face all scrunched up and says, “Mom, really? Don’t you think you’re a little too old? How embarrassing!”
Offended, I just reply, “Well, no! I didn’t see an age limit sign anywhere. I think he’d still listen to me.”
“No, mom. No way are you going to do that and neither am I.”
I just huff and walk off, disheartened that my son is too old to sit on Santa’s lap. It’s so sad.
Changing my mind, I turn around and say, “I’ll let you open a present early for just one last…”
“NO! No way.” He cuts me off.
I can’t even bribe the kid. You know if you can’t bribe your kids into something, it just isn’t going to happen.
So, I give up. I’m not happy about it, but I suppose that is part of growing up, right?
Along with his rejection of a Santa photo-op, his age has also seriously altered his Christmas list.
Used to, he’d ask for little boy stuff-an airplane, a water gun, a fire truck that makes sounds. Now, he wants a paintball gun, twelve different kinds of video games and a selection of various other things that I can’t pronounce, let alone spell.
It’s wearing poor Santa Claus out.
But, as Santa will do, he finds each and every one of the items on the list. And, he looks forward to not just dipping into the Extra Strength Egg Nog, but lifting the bowl directly up to his face for a few long, relaxing pulls of the good stuff.
I’m kidding, of course. Santa doesn’t like Egg Nog. He drinks Extra Strength Hot Cocoa.
Finally, Christmas morning arrives and Santa can take a break.
This is my favorite part of the entire holiday.
My son wakes up at about 5ish. He comes in and rouses my husband and I, excitedly shaking the bed so that it feels like we’re in the middle of an earthquake.
“Get up! It’s Christmas!”
My husband sits straight up in bed and says, “Everyone get in the doorway! The house is going to give!”
Still half asleep, I start beating my comforter to death thinking some creep has come in to attack us.
My son just looks at both of us and shakes his head, waiting for us to realize there is no emergency.
Looking like two escaped mental patients, we roll out of bed.
My son doesn’t think the standard morning restroom and coffee routine apply to Christmas Day. I go to use the bathroom and, every three seconds I hear a tapping at the door that is followed by a, “Geeze, mom. Can you come out already?”
“I can’t put nature’s call on hold, dear.” I reply, doing my best to hurry. I have easily set records for the World’s Quickest Restroom Breaks the past few years.
I have yet to receive a call from Guinness Book, but I’m still waiting.
My husband made it to the couch. But, he’s still half asleep. He’s not moving, just staring at something that isn’t there with his hair sticking up in every direction.
On the Christmases she doesn’t go to my brothers, my mom insists that she be called to witness the opening of the gifts.
My son picks up the phone, yells at her to get over here quick and hangs up before she even has a chance to respond.
Knowing if she piddles around she’ll miss it, she is walking in the back door five minutes later in her bathrobe, holding presents in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
Used to be, my dad was right behind her. I will certainly miss his face this year.
Regardless, the ripping of the paper begins before she can even sit down.
His face lights up, he squeals with delight and, in what seems like three seconds, it’s all over.
It was worth it, though. All of it.
That is, until he hands over the stuff that needs to be assembled.
I go off to cook, my mom goes home to dress and my husband spends the rest of the morning holding back curse words while assembling something that has three thousand parts.
We spend the rest of the day eating, playing and napping.
I love every bit of it.
It’s the one day of the year I feel like I have my family all to myself.
I can’t wait.
Until next week, remember: If it says “Assembly Required”, buy your husband a nice tool set for Christmas. He’ll need it. And for goodness sakes, buy batteries.
Mandi Hayes-Spencer is a columnist for The Greenup County Beacon and author of the upcoming series The Crantz Chronicles. She lives in Flatwoods, Kentucky with her husband and son.