For the first time, yesterday, I subjected my daughter to something that my father did for so many years on Christmas morning.
Christmas morning was a time of intense anticipation for my brother and I. It was a time of immoveable ritual and manufactured doubt. A time of known knowns and known unknowns as an 8 year old Donald Rumsfeld probably whined to his parents.
On Christmas morning everything in our mind was geared towards getting to the point of opening our presents. It would not happen before 10:30 or 11:00 am. This was certain, but every year this would be cast into doubt. My father would procrastinate in a ritualistic way that was so much part of Christmas tradition in our home that it could no longer be justifiably called procrastination.
Every year we swam around like foolish fish, willingly swallowing the bait.
My brother and I would wake up earlier than usual, scrabble around at the end of our beds to find our Christmas stockings and, fidgety with excitement, tear everything out of them in double quick time. This accomplished we would be thinking about how to get breakfast down us, brush our teeth and ready for presents.
My parents would lie in bed with a coffee as we flitted about fiddling with the contents of our stockings and forcing them to hurry up. Once breakfast had been negotiated my father would begin his annual play.
"Have you brushed your teeth? Have you cleared the table?"
“Yes, Yes" we screamed.
Ok, well I still have to shave, but I think I’m going to have a bath first anyway.”
“Noooooo” we cried in unison. But what we really meant was “More please”. And he continued, threatening to polish a spoon, polish the dining table, sharpen a knife... because anticipation was and remains the most exciting part of almost anything.
Even climbing the highest mountain can leave an empty feeling very quickly after the summit euphoria has faded. We should always try to enjoy the journey because we can always set new goals.
Dear Diary, In an attempt to feel even more Christmassy here is a memory from last winter, in Vienna.