While the Christmas holiday is a time filled with joy and happiness, it also comes with a fair amount of stress. One of the main sources of Christmas stress comes from the combining of holiday traditions. Wife and I both grew up with very strong Christmas traditions, and we both want to see those traditions passed on to the kids. In case you haven't noticed, Wife and I are both fairly strong willed, so we've inched towards mutual agreement as to what "our" traditions would be over the years.
We've had discussions about how to string the lights on the tree. For awhile, this was an annual battle. I would put the lights in straight lines on the tree, and Wife would follow behind me adding more lights and wrapping them around branches. Now, I untangle all the lights, and walk behind her while she strings. In exchange, I’m allowed to pack the suitcases when we go on vacation without interference. It is a fair trade.
We've had discussions about whether the top of the tree should be an angel or a star. I always had the star, and I liked the star. However, I was trumped by “this was my Grandma’s angel. She gave it to me out of all the grandchildren.” I can’t compete with that so we have an angel.
But, the biggest discussion has always been whether there should be presents under the tree prior to Christmas. I always had presents under the tree, and Wife never did. Wife had a good point... the nagging is greatly reduced if there aren’t any presents. And while that's true, the tree just doesn't look complete to me without presents. Every year, I nag, whine, and cajole until Wife caves and puts presents under the tree. And, every year she hates doing it.
So, the other night before dinner, we put out the presents. It was only a few days before Christmas, the kids are getting older, and I assured Wife that nothing could go wrong. It would be fine. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Right?
The kids descended upon the tree like a pack of rabid dogs. There was a flurry of activity while every box was examined and scrutinized. I noticed Girl closely examining one box in particular. Suddenly, Boy darted off into the other room and came back with a box. There were comparisons and many hushed whispers until Girl walked over to Wife. She stood there, holding a small box, and announced, "This box is the same size as the one Boy got last Christmas. That means I'm getting a Nintendo for Christmas!" and ran off excited as could be.
Yup, you know what happened next. I looked over at Wife, and she was staring at me with her arms crossed. I think her foot was tapping, too. I, of course, couldn’t believe it. Just 10 minutes before, I had said to her, “Nothing can happen! It’s a bunch of boxes with paper on them. What could possibly happen? It’s not like they can guess what’s in the presents!” That’s all it was. 10 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been proven wrong that quickly before.