Well, at the time of this writing, it is nearing the ultimate season of joy, that time of year of great giving. No, I’m not speaking of tax season. I’m of course talking about Christmas.
Like most of you out there, Christmas holds a lot of memories for me. Snowman and snow fort building, sledding, the infamous 25 day countdown and then of course……the unwrapping of the presents. My old man must have liked Christmas too because it offered him an opportunity to tease us kids.
“Hey – I just heard Santa got accidentally ran over by a car today.”
And then of course there was the famous white desk Christmas incident of ’67 written about in this story (link), forever making me afraid to go see if I had anything under the tree. Even today, the night before Christmas I have a recurring dream of an empty white desk, chasing me while its throwing junior encyclopedias at me in hopes of tripping me up into a pile of Viceroy cigarettes.
One thing I have to give credit to my dad for though is my love of teasing. I’ve mentioned this before but for the benefit of the new reader – I do like to tease but I don’t like to hurt others so if I’m teasing you, it means I like you. I’ve always loved teasing my kids and generally just trying to give them a sense of humor; teaching them to laugh and enjoy life. Along this topic, there are a couple of stories in here I’m quite fond of, (like the one linked in the previous paragraph).
Mostly though, I’d tease so I could hear the kids laugh. If laughter is medicine, then my teasing was my way of slapping a hot compress onto my kids’ foreheads. Timmy’s laughter was the most contagious and he loved it most if I were teasing his brother Corey because Corey would yell the loudest. Naturally, there were the stinky bombs we dads like to let loose on our kids – hey kids, pull my finger.
Quick note to the dads out there. You have to get creative when your kids get older, but they can still be had if you’re clever enough. A year ago Tim had just walked into the house with his girlfriend, Olivia. I picked up Minka, (our new cat), and asked Tim if he’d seen this thing on her paw. Huh? I said – here, hold her paw….and when he did….well, you all know what happened then. Yup, got him! A nasty ritual passed down through the Dad-eons.
A favorite tease that would always get Timmy laughing hysterically was called The Sock Bomb! You see, after I developed DVT in my left leg, (back in ’98), I started wearing a granny hose to the calf. You nurses out there of course call it by its real name, TED (thrombo-embolic deterrent). It might as well be tighty whities though because that’s what it was to Corey – underwear. Corey would be in the guest room, playing a game on the PlayStation when Timmy would whisper to me “do it Dad”. And that’s when I’d hide behind the door, sock bomb in hand. I’d make a quick ‘chk-chk’ sound as I tossed the ‘grenade’ in the room. The target, Corey’s lap.
Corey would get mad and scream and toss it back outside, only to receive another bomb seconds later. Meanwhile Timmy would be giggling so hard that he’d nearly be crying. Corey wasn’t really mad though, he knew the drill.
The one joke played on Corey that he did actually freak out about involved a pair of my tighty whities and some good ‘ole Hershey’s chocolate syrup. You guessed it – Timmy and I squirted a little bit of syrup onto a pair of clean tighty whities. (I guess you know where this is going, don’t you reader?) Corey was upstairs, doing some homework at his desk in his bedroom. Tim and I walked upstairs together, Timmy already cracking up, as I had Corey cornered.
“Ugh, man Critter, (Corey’s nickname), I had to change my underwear, yuk, I guess I accidentally sharted (technical terminology). Corey was totally freaking out, yelling for me to “get that thing away from me or I will kill you, I mean it“. Timmy, meanwhile, was losing it, absolutely losing it, laughing the hardest I’ve ever seen him laugh. I was screaming – agh….ooh…yuk….
This went on for maybe 30 seconds before I finally shared the truth and let things calm down, but wow, what a fun 30 seconds (my wife keeps asking me what I’m laughing at while I’m here writing). What a funny dad memory!
And well, with that as background, I guess that brings me to Christmas.
I’m quite certain of the year, but I’m thinking Timmy might have been perhaps 7 or 8 years old – it might even have been the same year as Christmas Surprise (link). I remember well that it was a year that Timmy was very excited about Christmas, and more specifically the unwrapping of PRESENTS!
Christmas morning – is there any morning more exciting for us kids? Would Santa bring us what we asked him for? At our house on Christmas morning many times we’d have all the presents wrapped and then would take turns unwrapping them one at a time, each person taking a turn. Now, for the kids, this was nuts, it drove them crazy.
HURRY UP! It’s my turn!
Nope, hold on Timmy. You get to go when Corey is finished.
Naturally, Corey would then take his sweet time, knowing that every second delayed was another second of joy for all of us who loved watching Timmy sweat and squirm. That’s when a flash of brilliance hit me! What if a package was completely empty when Timmy opened it?
As Tim was distracted, it wasn’t difficult to discreetly wrap up an empty box.
Timmy has the most presents so let’s let him open another one! Corey and Mitch both had seen me wrapping the empty box. Wrapping paper was flying all over as Tim was quickly trying to get to the prize. Voila! Empty box! We were cracking up! Meanwhile as we continued on in taking turns, one of the boys would be wrapping up yet another ‘present’ for Tim.
There was no end to the presents for Tim that year. Time after hilarious time, he kept falling for the gag….because, after all, maybe one of these presents might actually be ‘not an empty box‘. Maybe you had to be there or maybe you have to know Timmy. Tim’s an optimist, always thinking he’s going to win the lottery, always thinking one day he will wake up a millionaire (your stereotypical millennial). Very rarely does he ever get down on himself, so it was easy for him to run through 10 or a dozen empty packages.
Lots and lots of people get depressed at Christmas time, especially parents who yearn for those happy days of watching their kids, enjoying the moment. That’s not me though. This time of the year does not make me sad. I did my job; I raised them, gave them food and water, paid their ways through college, always trying to make them feel loved and safe. That was always my life goal as a young parent – provide for my kids.
I’ve been documenting my memories here in this blog in an effort, not only just to entertain you, (the reader), but also in the hope that one day after I’m gone, my kids will take the time to read them all and to cherish their own loves, their own memories…..but mostly our shared memories.
Those empty packages were filled…………….with love!