Christmas morning. A relative term. At what point does lying in your bed with your eyes wide open from about 3:30 am until 5:30 am become actual "morning?" I think a quarter 'til six was usually when we would finally snap and creep into our parents room.
Even though our early bird parents would roll out of bed with little resistance, we then had to wait for them to pull on robes, or god forbid go pee. This would probably take all of one minute, but it seemed like an eternity. Because in our family it was a strict rule that no one could run ahead into the living room on Christmas morning. That would be just utterly, utterly wrong.
Our parents would always make us wait in the dark stairwell or hallway, while one of them went ahead into the living room to be sure the Christmas tree lights were turned on, and the camera was ready. That's what we're doing the photo above. Waiting in the wings with mom until we got the green light from dad.
And this is the last photo of Christmas morning where you will actually see our faces. Because the rest, although spanning almost a decade, all have one thing in common (besides varying degrees of brownish-goldish carpeting) our heads our down, our intent clear, our mission simple – opening presents.
a. Blue Banana Seat Bike. Which I embarrassingly didn't learn to ride for another three years.
b. Cowboys & Indians Fort. This is really hard to see in this photo, but that thing was amazing with all it's little miniature soldiers and warriors and log walls and towers. Donny is in love, you can tell.
c. Smurf Drum. I don't remember ever seeing this toy again. It's shelf life must have been short. Let's just say we were still stepping on miniature cowboys for years after, but the Smurf drum faded quickly into obscurity or the back of a closet.
d. Big Bird Alarm Clock. The most annoying alarm clock of all time. "Rise and shine! Wake up you sleepy head! That's right get one foot out of bed! Then the other!" But imagine Big Bird literally screaming this at you.
e. Kathleen. New baby, means baby toys, like...
f. Generic Stuffed Bear Number One. She could care less.
g. Generic Stuffed Bear Number Two. That might be a bunny. Still, no love there.
h. Generic Stuffed Bear Number Three. Yep, not so much a winner.
i. Mini Trampoline. An eighties staple. Who didn't have one of these suckers in their house. I think they were made popular by the aerobics craze, but for most parents they were a compromise gift to kids who didn't get real trampolines. You could still hurt yourself or fall just as easily, though. The difference being you were probably inside where you would fall into, oh... a giant floor console tv set.
j. Boom Box. A much more iconic eighties staple. I would use this one to tape songs on the radio. Or sometimes we'd record our own radio shows. I didn't get my first store-bought tape until a couple years later. I remember picking it out at the store with my mom. What's the deal with the delayed full-realization of my gifts? It was INXS "Kick" of course.
k. Care Bears Nightgown. From Care Bears to "Devil Inside."
l. Cute Blue Pajamas. Note the jaunty red cuffs.
m. Ridiculously Large Tree. No, really. Look how gigantic this tree is. This is just the bottom third of it, because we had a big lofted ceiling. Our dad would drive his boat across the lake where we lived at the time, and chop down a cedar tree from some secret lot, and then bring it back home strapped to his boat. This one was by far the largest. We literally once had a bird fly in through our back sliding glass doors and roost in it.
n. Generic White Bear. Hmm. Curiously still twisty-tied to it's box.
o. Not-So-Generic Care Bear. Cast aside. Face down. Ironically no one cares.
p. Alf Doll. And the clouds parted and the light shone down, and Kathleen found her first love. No cute button-nosed bears with red bow ties or hearts on their tummies for her. This was a formative moment for her.
q. Playdoh Sweet Shop. Big hit. Fun for all ages.
r. Plus Came With A Hat. Kathleen of course snags the cool accessory first.
s. Donny Is Curiously Still Wearing The Same Pajamas.
t. Look At My Pretty Hair. Only a self-conscious fourteen year old would bother to blow-dry her hair straight, and have it perfectly side-swept for early morning present opening, lest anyone see her look less than perfect. A fourteen-year old... or an adult Kathleen, that is.
u. Inline Skates. These were for then scruffy-haired Kathleen. She terrorized the neighborhood in them for years to come. And, briefly, in her early twenties was an honest-to-goodness roller girl. An honest-to-goodness roller girl with perfect hair. Do they come any other way?
v. The Same Dang Pajamas! I might be wrong, but I think these used to have footsies in them. They have been cut out so when Donny stands up they are like capri length pajamas. I think he finally had his growth spurt the next year. That, or he's literally going to show up Christmas morning in two days from now wearing them with his handlebar mustache and a cup of coffee.