The Wrapping Was Upon Us

The wrapping was upon us. Need I say more? Ah, I see I do. Then let me explain. With all the attitude of a kingdom under assault, Wife barricaded herself in her bedroom and prepared. The scissors came out. The scotch tape came out. Finally, the Christmas paper came out. And woe to any child who attempted to enter her domain.Wrapping

Gifts were laid out on the bed. She had to see them all set in rows to make sure of the proper value of each child, godchild, parent, grandparent, and an assortment of siblings. Like a merchant with his scales, she weighed each set of gifts, all the while making certain no one was under valued. If a discrepancy was found, I would receive a phone call that very moment, for here was where she and the merchant part ways.

A greedy merchant would pinch a little off of one to even the scales out, giving everyone involved a little less. Wife would hear none of that from me, for I am more the miser. She instead would add to whose ever pile was less, so I received her calls, kindly asking me to release the funds she wanted. As it was for Christmas, and for the children, I found it difficult to refuse her.

In past days she would have extended her gift piles across the entire bedroom floor. But the pregnancy stopped that this year. So her scales were confined to the bed, which made her weigh and wrap in batches, as our bed was too small to contain it all. It took her longer, but she was able to muscle through it.

In conclusion, Wife successfully had all the presents ready for Christmas well before the new baby was due to arrive. And there was only one true discomfort for me. After clearing all the wrapping off our bed, I was unable to find the scissors. For several nights after that I slept very gingerly.

Advent Anticipations

Advent

For those not in the “know,” this is how we celebrate St. Nicholas’ Feast Day… Put your shoes on the table to receive your candy and fruit.

For us Catholics, we are in the season of Advent, a season of joyful anticipation for the celebration of Christmas.  And with eight small children, it is definitely full of anticipation.

I have been asked almost every night since Thanksgiving, how many days there are until Christmas, and to the children’s relief, the numbers I give have been steadily decreasing. Lately I have been questioned less. I think the reason is a string of numbered stockings that was given to us. As they are numbered one through twenty-four, they are a kind of count-down from the beginning of December to Christmas morning. So the Baby Jesus from our Nativity set is slowly making his way from stocking to stocking until on the big day when he is placed, with all the excitement of children, in the manger.

Our Nativity... minus Baby Jesus until the 25th.

Our Nativity… minus Baby Jesus until the 25th.

Now the girls have a special kind of anticipation. All four are old enough to have been invited to help Wife wrap the gifts intended for me. So from time to time,

I am met with a giggly little girl who tells me, “Daddy, I know what we got you fo’ Christmas.”

To which I respond, “What did you get me?”

And to show their loyalty to their mother, they say back, “I’m not tellin’.”

All those gift are intended for me! I kinda feel a little guilty now, because I didn't get Wife nearly that many presents.

All those gift are intended for me! I kinda feel a little guilty now, because I didn’t get Wife nearly that many presents.

And I am left where I started, neither more informed nor more ignorant. But I’m about to make my own circle of secrecy. When I get Wife’s presents, I’ll also invite the four girls to help me wrap them. Then they will go to Wife, and with a smugness less than what they would show to me, they will inform their mother that they know what she is getting for Christmas. But unfortunately, unlike myself, Wife loves it. Come to think of it, this may backfire.

For Wife thrives during Advent. With saints, feast days, and Advent candles, she is in her element. I think she likes having a real reason to keep secrets from me. She claims they are “surprises.” A whole season totally devoted to “surprises!”

I like to claim my favorite holiday as the Thanksgiving weekend. The children’s is Christmas. But Wife has the whole Advent season. Leave it to the Catholic Church to give my Wife an entire season all to herself.

A Christmas List Problem

Halloween has passed. For most people that means autumn leaves, baking turkeys, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. In short, it means Thanksgiving. But for us, it means infant diapers, pulling the infant’s clothes out of storage, cleaning out the baby tub, and transforming the diaper changing table from a catch-all back into a usable station. In short, it means the new baby is just around the corner. And as he is due at the beginning of December, Wife is concerned about getting the children’s Christmas gifts. She is determined to have her Christmas gifts bought, wrapped, and hidden by the week after Thanksgiving. Now, there is only one problem in accomplishing it that way, the children don’t know what they want.

A magazine inspection

A magazine inspection

But as they are good children, they bent their minds to the difficult task with a will. With paper and pencil they sat around the table, looking through toy magazines, and attempting to narrow down exactly what they want; and that is the hardest part of all.

I thought to help them by sitting down with a magazine and flipping through it with the children. As I did not pick out specific children to look through it with me, they all gathered around. In little time, I was surrounded by excited squeals, pointing fingers, and bumping heads. I was also unaware that their little bodies could block the light so effectively. By the time we finished, I was unsure as to what was in the magazine, but the little ones were all sure of what they saw, and quickly informed their mother so she could write it down.Writing Christmas lists

The older girls were having a harder time deciding. When #1 was bent over her nearly blank paper, I could almost see the battle for wants above her head. Her head would tilt up as something caught her fancy, then something more practical or skeptical inside of her would shoot it down, like a paper airplane in a thunderstorm. The last time I checked, she had two or three things written down.

#2’s trouble was different. Her list filled a page, top to bottom.  However, she was practical enough to realize she wasn’t going to get all her booty. So she leaned close, her nose nearly touching the paper, and began to insert dashes next to the items she wanted most. And when most of the items had dashes next to them, she had to revisit her list again, this time writing stars by the things she really, really wanted. And I think her list was still too long.

#3 supposedly wrote her Christmas list, but like fairies, gnomes, and President Obama’s birth certificate, no one has seen it.

Now #4 finished her list, and even showed it to me. Then she lost it, and had to start over. Then she found it. And when it was finally ready, waiting for Wife on the table, #7 discovered it, and scribbled all over it.

But in the end, the only one who truly has a say about the Christmas gifts, who truly understands the gifts, the reasons, the repercussions, is Wife. So children, be nice to you mother for the next two months.