I don’t remember many Christmas’ – just flitters of images – heading to my aunt’s house to be with the rest of the family – the children’s table at Grandbuddi’s – cranberry “sauce” making that sickening sucking sound as it fell out of the can – dressing up stick people using leaves and monkey grass to pass the time, because I’d left my tried and true toys at home. But I remember this Christmas – the day I turned eight.
Mom let me spend the night on the couch and I absolutely couldn’t sleep. Every couple of hours I’d barge into her room and ask “is it time?” and of course, on days like those, time drags and it’s almost never time, so I’d make attempts at settling down while staring at the Christmas tree and trying to discern in the dark what new presents had appeared since I’d fallen asleep. It was around 6am when it was finally “time” and I was bouncing off the walls, I couldn’t contain my excitement, because that was the year I got the tent (it’s on the floor near the legs of the table) and it was quite possibly the best present Santa ever brought (with the exception of the chemistry set, which may have also made its appearance that year – fortunately my parents didn’t take that “parental supervision” warning seriously – many mispent adventures could have come to a crashing halt had they read the label).
Honestly though, this tent I loved for years – it made for a great makeshift clubhouse (better if it was set-up in winter, because it was rated for the mountains – not so great in a Texas summer) and came in handy for all the camping I did in Girl Scouts. I loved that thing until it fell apart and I haven’t had one since. (Well, that has more to do with the fact that I refuse to sleep on the hard cold ground anymore; I’ve been sissified.)
The thing I love about the photo, is it’s one of those that’s really “me” on Christmas in the morning. It captures how I feel about Christmas and my birthday – the excitement of the day – the joy of being around family and friends and the fact that I wouldn’t know a brush in the morning if it came out and groomed me. (Thankfully, I met my friend Ernie the next year and he made it his personal mission to comb my hair and fix my barrettes so I’d be presentable at school.)
At this moment, I’m in my flannel jammies looking disheveled and trying very hard not to run into the bedroom to wake up Jay by asking, “is it time?” because I can see those presents out there winking at me and I know among them is a treasure.