|Christmas Elf: Caught in the Act . . .|
It started out ordinarily enough.
Dad waving from the driveway as he started the long drive to Lethbridge to begin his Christmas shopping.
I should point out, here, that Dad always began and ended his shopping on the same day.
He had a thing about children sneaking into his closet to peek at presents.
Not that I ever did.
Personally, I think it had something to do with his own childhood and his own childhood foibles and tendencies.
We waved happily to him, then went back to helping Mom with the Christmas baking.
Our duties were carefully delineated.
She finished mixing and dug out cookie sheets and baking pans.
She shooed us away and began to spoon/scrape.
She turned to put pans into the oven.
She shooed us away and finished spooning/scraping.
She turned to put pans into the oven.
We licked the bowl.
She shooed us away and started again.
We watched . . .
You get the picture.
But when pans started coming out of the oven, yet another duty was added to the roster.
Tasting the now-baked deliciousness.
And so it went.
Everyone had their responsibilities clearly outlined.
And we did them whole-heartedly.
No slackers in this bunch.
Sometimes, though, baked goodies actually made their way past the
ravening hordes children to the fancy Christmas platters set out to receive them.
Not often, I will admit, but frequently enough that we realized what those platters were for.
But I digress . . .
Other duties included:
- Hiding when the baking was finished and clean up was indicated.
- Giggling loudly during hide-age.
- Sitting under the tree and periodically shaking/squeezing packages.
- Teasing younger siblings that Santa Claus would never be able to find our ranch.
- Re-arranging Christmas ornaments.
- Breaking said ornaments.
- Hiding again . . . because.
It was a busy day.
Mostly for my Mom, but why haggle over details?
Finally, just as we were getting ready to climb into bed for the long, sleepless night, we would hear Dad's car pull into the driveway.
And then would begin another whole round of excited children doing the dance of joy.
Sleep was further away than ever.
But, finally, we were herded into our beds and the doors firmly shut against peekage/sneakiness.
The wait was on.
I shared a room with my younger brother, Blair and my younger sister, Anita.
Somehow, I managed to keep them bottled up until some of us (not me) were ready to fizz over.
About 5 AM.
We could wait no longer.
Now the rule in the Stringam household was 'Look, but don't touch until Mom and Dad's feet hit the living room floor'.
On this particular Christmas, looking was especially exciting.
Because Dad had strewn his gifts over the living room floor.
The entire living room floor.
From the soft light of the Christmas tree, we were able to make out strange, long objects arranged at intervals from the doorway all the way to the tree itself.
What could they be?
We knelt down, trying to get a better view.
Had he opened a crate of something and left the boards flung about like flotsam?
Normally such behavior was reserved for the younger set.
Just when we were ready to burst with the excitement and curiosity, we heard our parents make their way up the hall towards us.
Dad reached around the corner and snapped on the light.
Our eyes were glued to the newly-revealed treasures.
The entire floor was littered with skis!
Beside each carefully arranged set of skis were a pair of poles and leather ski boots.
We hopped and skipped carefully around the room, checking name tags and finally settling beside the set that bore ours.
Mine were blue.
With long, silver poles.
And black leather ski boots.
I don't remember what else I got that year (sorry, Family).
Nothing could compare with my shiny new and wondrous skis.
Then I discovered that the excitement didn't end there.
The rest of Dad's gift included a week-long family skiing trip to The Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.
The first of many such trips.
And the beginning of a whole new chapter for the Stringams.
Yup. The best Christmas ever.
Now, it's your turn. What was your best childhood Christmas ever?