Looking up suddenly from her macaroni and cheese, my daughter boomed, “Merry Christmas!”
Across the table, in his own high chair, my son shook his head, grimacing. “No, Sister. It’s not Christmas yet.”
However, my daughter’s holiday spirit would not be shaken. “Merry Christmas, Daddy! Merry Christmas, Brother! Merry Christmas, macaroni and cheese!”
This time he screamed. “NOOO! No, Sister! It’s not Christmas yet! You stop saying dat!”
Having heard this same interchange about five times throughout the course of the day, I decided it was time to moderate—if, for nothing else, my own sanity.
“Okay, kids. Listen,” I began. “It’s not Christmas Day yet, so Buddy, you’re right. It’s not Christmas Day. But right now, it is Christmas Time, because Christmas is coming. So because it’s Christmas Time, we can say ‘Merry Christmas.’ So Sister is right, too.”
My explanation was greeted with dead silence. I could tell two little sets of wheels were turning. The dog, who was waiting for dropped food under the table, began to hum the Jeopardy Theme.
Then, my son stood up in his high chair, raised his arms (a spoonful of mac and cheese in hand), and shouted, “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
Yes! I’d done it. I’d finally negotiated the end of the Battle of Merry Christmas, and no longer would I have to listen to this constant…
Remember the unbridled childhood excitement of Christmas Morning? The insomnia-inducing obsession with the sheer possibilities of the bounty Santa Claus would surely leave under the tree? Staring at the ceiling at 4:00 am, debating asking your parents if you can just cut the nonsense and get this party started right now?
As we grow older, however, there seems to be less and less magic each year, which ironically provides less and less of a window for acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Is it lame that at 29 years old, I’m still waiting for that owl?
But I’m thrilled to say that after believing it was gone forever, I’m suddenly feeling that familiar old Christmas Morning anticipation once again because starting today, my wife and I will be orchestrating that magic for the Twins, as we prepare to give them their First Christmas Ever.
At 11 months, they’re not by any means at an age where they can fully comprehend all that’s happening, but we’re in no hurry for them to grow up any quicker than they already have, and we see this year as a prelude–a taste of many happy memories to come.
And now, on The Night Before Christmas, as I look all through the house (with my dog, the only stirring creature, pawing at my shin for attention now that the Twins are down for a long winter’s nap) I see decorations that will become ingrained in the Twins’ subconscious as Christmas-defining relics, just as my parents magically transformed $4.99 pharmacy purchases into The Singing Christmas Bear I Played With Every Year While We Decorated the Tree, The Christmas Carol Book with Which I Led the Whole Family in Rousing Sing-Alongs, and The Nativity Scene with Which I Fabricated Alternate Biblical Storylines Involving He-Man Saving Baby Jesus from Cobra Commander with the Help of the Three Wise Musketeers, the Ninja Donkey and the Jedi Cow.