I was always the first one up. My sister was the sleeper – I, still and remain, five to six hours zonked and then out of bed. (I didn’t need to take up coffee until much later – I blame Syracuse – though now I’ve all but switched to 100 percent tea.)
I’d go in, wake Sis up, and get her on board the crazy train. Sometimes, though, it was vice versa, as she’d wake me up by tackling me in bed mid-REM sleep at I-dunno-what-time-in-the-morning.
Such a sweet girl!
Anyhoo, we’d tip-toe past Mom and Dad’s room and go down the stairs to the tree, where whatever Santa was bringing had been brought. Soon Mom and Dad would be up – 5 a.m. on a day off for God’s sake – smiling in spite of their obvious bleary-eyed haze.
There, we’d find treasures.
The dollhouse that Mom and Dad built for us in the garage … in November … with a portable heater … out of scrap wood (which, if I remember correctly, resulted in my father contracting pneumonia) … the Barbie camper that fueled so many afternoons in the back yard with Lynn playing TravelBarbie and spawned Mousie and the Dogettes … Melissa’s Truman book, which she is holding up in the funniest picture I have of her (besides the one with the inflated dinosaur on her head in the driveway … I mean, you’d think she drank at 13 or something).
This, of course, says nothing for the traditional stocking stuffers of socks, body lotion, body sprays and gels, sunflower seeds (or pistachio nuts, depending on the recipient) … and always an ornament for the tree – seriously, every year – from our grandmother, one for each cousin. Every. Single. Year.
We – the people in my life, me in my life – have been blessed. We’ve been blessed with prosperity, luck and the opportunity to work hard. Some of us are in good places now, some of us are challenged. Some of us have everything we want, while some of us are simply trying to fix as much as we can and stay in the moment.
Which is why “non-shopping days ’til Christmas” is a far more interesting metric.
What’s important is celebrating these memories. They aren’t over-the-top – hell, they made the dollhouse out of wood, which Dad had saved for no apparent reason (no shock, likely using screws and nails from some old air conditioner that he took apart).
For the record, the dollhouse is an A-frame stored in Mom and Dad’s garage up against a wall and the ceiling, where mice and random other … things … can’t get to it. It stands about three feet high and, because Dad planned it, built to withstand a nuclear meltdown.
Despite the soft real estate market, its valuation has remained constant. And, for that matter, with regard to that property, so, too, has mine.