There was a sweet spot as far as Christmas is concerned. It was about the time after college when I wouldn’t get a lot of gifts and the ones I did were on the smaller side. Lynnette and I, as well as my friends, spent most of our gift-giving in the form of chilled Crown Royal shots with Coke backs. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there wasn’t much of a clean up. The mess could be quickly disposed of in a single trash bag. The tree could come down in a few minutes. And just like that, it’s the new year. Those days are gone. The first thing we did on the day after Christmas was head out to Ala Moana to make a few exchanges. It was relatively painless and I even managed to come out with an extra $2.70. I assume this is exactly the kind of victory Charlie Sheen was going on about all those months ago when he was running through cocaine and women like Flash on crystal meth. Then again, maybe not.
Once we got home, we set to breaking into Madison’s many gifts. We learned a hard lesson last year. We thought that we’d be smart about it and save some of her gifts by keeping them boxed up and putting them in the garage. Then we totally forgot about them and a few of them had passed the point where they’d be interesting to her. Also, it sucks to have to store all that stuff in our relatively small place.
This year, we opened everything. I spent the afternoon getting Washington State University up to #18 in the country. When I was done with that, I started cleaning up the Christmas leftovers. Lynnette took a nap. But then she had the honor of putting together the Barbie Ocean Liner. I walked into the room to Lynnette hovering over pieces of plastic and a massive sheet of paper with instructions. “OhmyGod…” she repeated over and over. “Has Madison been bossing you around and telling you to hurry up? I asked Lynnette. “No,” she said. “Too bad,” I replied. “Then you would have known what it was like to work while you’re in the same room.” Man, that cruise ship must have been kicking Lynnette’s ass because she didn’t even say “Shut up, Phil.”
Whenever there are back-to-back days of hustle and bustle like Thanksgiving/Black Friday or Christmas Eve/Christmas or New Year’s Eve/New Years or Lynnette’s birthday/the rest of November, our house turns into a full-blown mess. The reason is that we’re barely at home so we simply drop things off in the living room, take a nap or sleep, then get up and head out again. Shit just piles up all over the place. This was the challenge that I accepted: to make our home somewhat liveable for more than the time it takes to shower, sleep, then leave the house. But I didn’t start that until having opened all of Madison’s gifts. Because I’m going to clean this house over and over for eternity, one less time really makes me happy.
Madison got a ton of gifts. If you are one of the many people who generously provided Mad with a gift this season, thank you. She has had only nice things to say about all of the things she’s torn open this year. Thank you for allowing me 25 minutes of using my box cutter to tear up cardboard. I would like to plainly state that the previous sentence was not a thinly or thickly-veiled reference to sex.
I actually thought that she’d be critical of the clothing gifts again this year, but surprisingly, she seemed to accept them. She got a 10-pack of panties and two eight-packs of socks because she absolutely wears those things out. I don’t know if it’s some combination of her active lifestyle plus the ferocity of our washer and dryer plus the sandbox plus Abby trying to steal away with them, but man, it’s right up there with how I used to go to Gap in college and buy 5 new boxers for $20 when I was out of clean ones. That doesn’t make sense you say? I’d still have to wash those before wearing them, you say? Well, to answer your questions: Of course it does. and No, I didn’t.
The worst part of the day – that didn’t involve an ocean liner designed for Barbie dolls – was cutting the tags off of all the clothing. I wish that companies would ultimately decide to stick tags on their clothing in the same place. Inside the shirt at the shoulder, under the sleeve, at the end of the sleeve, inside the shirt in the armpit. I have to check them all. And then there are those rogue plastic tag things without any paper tags that makes them tricky to spot. At the end of the week when I vacuum the living room, I know I’m going to hear that sound of plastic hitting the insides of the vacuum head. I tried my best to place them all in a trash bag immediately after cutting them, but even when I was at Foot Action, I kind of sucked with that tag gun thing. Increasing the degree of difficulty was Abby, the puppy who has the 6th sense for knowing exactly where I want to move next, then occupying that spot. It’s uncanny.
When Lynnette and I finally finished not making a dent in our laundry list of cleaning, we opened to fridge to find Ziploc baggies of leftovers from Christmas lunch at my parents’ house. It was nice to know that after dealing with the wake of Christmas, I wouldn’t have to A) cook and B) wash all that many dishes. Lynnette ate Chinese noodles (which again, she used as an opportunity to remind me that “Chinese” anything is the “kind I like.”), Madison ate char siu inside those little white buns, and I ate baked hamburger macaroni and cheese. At the end of the night, all those baggies went straight into the trash can and that was that.
Lynnette returns to work tomorrow leaving Madison and I alone together for the first time all break. As you know, Madison has pretty high expectations for the balance of this break. According to the news, it’s going to be hot and voggy for the next few days. The beach sounds good, and so does the water park. Both would be great if I could suck in my stomach at all, but the Christmas break has screwed with that ability of mine. Maybe I just won’t eat for the rest of the night and tomorrow, then take Mad on Friday. I’m not even sure that would do it.
Viva la Christmas Break!