A first Xmas

When I was a young boy growing up as part of the only Jewish family in rural Colorado I always wondered what the fuss was with all the decorating and lighting and present buying my friends would go through every December. My brothers and I would laugh at the greed of our fellow school students, because we had already cashed in, as it were, because our parents were mightily cheap, even by cheap people standards and when it came time for Hanukkah gifts we could expect one night dedicated to socks and another for underwear and the next for gloves, another for umbrellas and maybe another for a new coat and the next was always a hat on day five, day six was something edible and sweet and finally day seven was the big finish, the big surprise and always (always!) the big letdown, pants or a dress shirt. That was it.
So when my friends from school would show up in early January with holiday tales of new bikes or personal audio devices or some other super expensive and trendy gift, I would look on in shock and surprise. I was kind of jealous I guess, but also sort of happy that my parents made no attempt to even try to impress us children with any sort of trendy superficial gift.
My father was almost willfully unable to be hip. I still have no idea if he was belligerently unable to connect to the world around him, or if he was just locked into the tradition of gifting items that were useful and practical, if not fun and teenage intoxicating.
The funny thing was that I was totally jealous of my friends in school, who would wake up on a cold day in December and find a living room filled with colorful boxes filled with toys and games. I never experienced such surprises. That is, until this year. For this first time in my life, we have a tree in our living room and there are presents underneath, some with my name on them, and the excitement I have is unfathomable. I have been shaking those colorful boxes, eying them with suspicion and in one case, taking it to the emergency room and having a technician MRI the box to make sure the ticking sound I could hear did not mean my husband was finally finished with my foolishness. I did notice one strangely wrapped package in a far corner of our living room, with two round wheels like structures and some sort of bar that looked strangely like a handle bar. I could swear it looked like what I might imagine a bike would look like if it were covered in wrapping paper. One can only hope.
So, this year, my 28th on this planet, I will finally join all those others who wake on the 25th, with no knowledge of what to expect, except to crawl out of my bed, run downstairs and tear into each and every package whether my name is on it or not, because I am hungry for the mystery and the release and the need to know. Sure, it may just be socks and gloves, but this time, I will get it all in one big burst of expectation and glory, I won’t have to wait over the torture of an entire week to get warm weather gear and a new beanie.


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