|Stockings hung by the chimney... check|
Anyway... The accumulation of 'Christmas Points' became the central tenet of Dude's existence, as a matter of fact, he was much like someone who's just gotten his membership card at a local department store and has an inflated opinion of what all those membership points actually mean, and no idea at all of how slowly they actually add up. We heard, endlessly, about what he was wanting for Christmas. And even though the list was quite large, financially speaking, it continued to grow, and change, morphing much like a monster in an old horror movie. Believe me, as the one who was supposed to supply all this stuff to his trusting offspring, I was horrified. Then there were the talks every afternoon about the accumulation of said points, and once David boasted, 'I'm gonna get ALL the Christmas Points!!' To which I replied, 'Well, I'm sure you're gonna try.' 'No!' He flatly insisted, 'ALL the points. Every Christmas Points!' I had thought (logically) that the sum of Christmas Points was roughly (if not exactly) equal to the total number of possible Game Points in the five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. From his insistence and growing list of demands, it seemed as though I had only a rough idea of the true extent of the vast sum of Christmas Points to be had in the universe at large. And had also vastly underestimated my son's ability to procure these valuable items.
|Let's just say he needed help|
I didn't have any need to use my awesome Dude-dad powers to figure out that the chain of reckless accumulation of 'Christmas Points' had hit a major snag. Also, without using my amazing powers of precognition (if I had any) I knew what I was going to find in 'The Book' before my youngest son dragged it reluctantly out of his backpack. I was even fairly (incredibly) certain as to the reason for this hiccup on the road to Christmas Point glory.
If Dave gets excited about gaining 5 Smileys in the same week (and he does...more than a bit) he gets 110 times as excited about Christmas Points. Every Day he would LOUDLY proclaim his incredible gain in the standings and immediately and repeatedly (and even more loudly) inform everyone in the area, and most people in Western PA, what his virtuous reward should be. The words 'Kinect', 'Super Mario Brothers' and 4 different games for his 3DS will probably be rebounding off the insides of my skull until just before his birthday in 6 months. Just in time to start the whole cycle again (which may all be part of his diabolical scheme...) So I wasn't too terribly surprised when I looked at the frowny face in the book, and even less astonished when I read the note that said: Wouldn't focus and very talkative.
I looked at Dave, trying very hard not to chuckle at his expense, and he looked back with the look of hopeless-hope. You know, the same look that death row inmates get on their faces when the phone rings as they're walking to the chair.(you know how much a wrong number would suck at that point?) Too bad for Dude that no call from the Governor was going to save him. He was Doomed. (or at least I wanted him to think he was.) I waited, looking at him expectantly. (It's just not as much fun if you don't torture them) and he awkwardly, nervously, and repeatedly glanced at me to ascertain how imminent his demise actually was. When he's really nervous Dave hunches slightly, cups his hands and brings his fingertips together in nervous little motions. Kind of like a timid mouse in an animated movie.... or Renfield... it's a tough call.
|Where's the presents?|
With the Holiday closing in, presents started to appear under the tree, and I learned something new. Dave is a psychic (I always pronounce it with an 'o' instead of an 'ic') because even without looking at the labels he could tell me who all the presents were for. Of course he was wrong, not all the presents under the tree were for him. But, hey, what psychic gets it right every time? The thing was, he hazarded a guess, put his neck out there and stuck by his guns come hell or high water. No matter what I (or anyone else) said, those presents were for him, and the rest of us could just go and find our own. Also, he could evidently peer though the wrapping and the boxes inside to the actual contents. Mysteriously they were all games and videos. And the bigger one off to the side was, of course, a Kinect system for his Xbox. I guess I have to look into the security system, because once Christmas came someone had mysteriously switched all these presents for the ones we actually opened. (His presents weren't even under the tree when he was guessing)
The Big Day was closing in, and Dude was very lucky... Lucky that Christmas wasn't any later in the year. A starving buzzard wouldn't hover over a dead horse as much as David circled that tree the last 2 days before Christmas. He'd oh, so casually come downstairs about 3 times as often as usual, unobtrusively (If you were blind, deaf, and in another state, you wouldn't even know he was there) peering under the tree, then saying things like, 'Ooo! More presents!' and 'Got the presents with the games and DVD's and Kinect system for the Xbox!'. A couple of times, only my personal tattered ghosts of Holidays past prevented me from strangling him with something decorative. Well, that, and the fact that I'd used all of the garland on the tree, mantle and porch swing.
|In case of shopping emergency|
But 24 hours later, the presents were opened, the ham (mostly) consumed, and peace (of a sort) reigned in the Dude-iverse. Dave was well pleased with the half a metric ton of games and movies that he received. Even more pleased with the fact that he got almost no clothes for Christmas. Which he considers a waste of both time and good wrapping paper that could be used somewhere else (games). Not to mention, the money wasted on clothing that could be used for some other, more worthwhile pursuit ... like games. And Dude-dad had a Special Project to use up that pesky down-time in between presents and dinner.
Now when I was a kid I was always amazed that my father looked so drawn and tired on what was to any kid, the Most Exciting, Best Day of the Year. When I was a little older I suspected my father of indulging a bit too much in Holiday Cheer the night before, combined with an overuse of the 'adults set their own bedtime' prerogative. Also, it amazed me that we couldn't get him up before 8:00 am, even though we'd been up at 6:30. Dad woke up every morning at 6:30, even on vacation. What was so different about Christmas? It was a puzzle. One that I solved for myself when I had my own kids. My Father, like so many other fathers was playing Santa's Elf until the wee hours of the morning putting together the Christmas Crap for his 5 ungrateful offspring. It wasn't turkey that knocked him out watching the football game, it was Mad Elf Disease. With this lesson in mind I resolved to A: Not buy my children anything requiring Tab A to be anywhere near Slot B. and 2: If such things were absolutely vital to the survival of my progeny I would, then, put them together in the 'down time' sometime Christmas Day... the next weekend at the latest. Or at least sometime before the end of the school year.
|To understand the full horror, click to look at this full size|
I said something like, 'Here it is, Dude. Isn't this cool?' (man, you are so setting yourself up) Dave looked everything over, watched me send the marbles flying up the tubes, then watched the results as gravity pulled them down the ramps and through the chutes until they'd come to rest at the end. He learned the mechanism to send the marbles and sent a couple flying around the course with the same result. 'How 'bout it Dave? You want this up in your room?' Dude looked it over, one more time, and said, in a polite but unenthusiastic voice, 'Yeah, sure.' Then he walked out of the room and up the stairs to his 'real' presents. He is so getting socks and coal next year, I swear.
PS. Raine still laughs when she remembers how I looked pulling all those parts out of that box, and how long it took me to put it all together. She's just getting coal. No socks.