Christmas Mornings · 29 January 2011

I know it has been over a month since Christmas, but I cannot get the thought out of my mind. (Actually, I already had this written and thought it was still worth sharing.) That nagging thought is that something must be wrong with my kids. They do not get up very early on Christmas morning.

When I was a kid, my brother, Russell, and I would get up well before the sun on Christmas mornings. The earliest we got up was about 4:00 a.m. and the latest about 6:00 a.m. Of course, our parents never got up when we got up – we were not supposed to get them up until about 7:00 a.m. But of course, we could not be quiet. We were supposed to whisper quietly enough not wake up our younger brother and sister, Scott and Marcie. We were pretty quiet on those mornings when we got up at 4:00 a.m. But as the dawn approached and things got lighter, we tended to whisper a little louder.

I remember one year when Russell and I got up so early that we sat quietly in the dark in case Santa had not yet come. We stayed still and quiet just watching and waiting to see if he might appear. When it got light enough to see, we found that our stockings were already filled. We had not gotten up early enough or we had fallen asleep in the dark for the moment of truth.

Most other years though, Russell and I got up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. Whoever got up earlier (usually Russell) woke up the other and we would sneak to the living room and check out our stockings and the gifts around the tree. After one Christmas (see Anticipating Christmas), I did not really try to guess what the presents were. Then again, after that Christmas, guessing would not have been very easy anyway because Mom and Dad did not label any of the gifts anymore. (That, in and of itself, ended up being a funny experience each Christmas when Mom tried to remember which gift was for whom. But that is another story.)

When we got up each Christmas morning, Russell and I would start whispering. Pretty quietly at first. We would look at the clock every hour or so and wonder how only five minutes had passed. Then, as the time passed ever so slowly, we would whisper louder and louder. Usually loud enough so Scott and Marcie could hear and start to awaken. But if they did not get up after our loud whispering, we would get concerned about their health. After all we reasoned, every child should be awake like we were at 6:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. So we would go whisper by their doors and then actually go inside to check to see that they were okay. Eventually, when the younger two were rousted from bed, we would send them in to our parents to make sure the bear was not going to eat his young. If Dad growled too loudly, Scott and Marcie would rush out and we would know it was too early. In reality, we all knew that our papa bear would not eat his baby bears. But just to hedge our bets, we made sure to send in the younger two. And as we got older, just our sister.

I know it all sounds like I made it up, but that is pretty close to how I remember it all. And Russell and I getting up early did not stop in our teen year either. Only in recent years after running around with his young ones all the time has Russell seemed to start getting up later. But I still get up before everybody else at our house. Although I rarely wake up before 4:00 a.m. anymore.

Which brings me back to my kids. Sure, we have two adolescents, one of which is in college and only wakes up before high noon when feels he must. But not one of our little beasts – Thing 1, Thing 2, or Thing 3 – gets up before I do. At least not most Christmases. This year, Thing 2 was up fairly early but did not come downstairs before I did. Maybe he knows that I like the time alone to be with myself and God. Maybe he really was trying to get back to sleep like he said. Or maybe, he just dreamed he got up early. Regardless, nobody else was up with me before 7:00 a.m. like my brother and I used to be every year.

This year, they might not have gotten up very early because of Thing 3’s promise to his mother, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi. She had been sick for a while and he was having compassion on her. Not that much though. He said that it was going to be Christmas and she could not sleep in really late like she had been all week. He informed her that she would need to be downstairs to open presents by 9:00 a.m. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi was ecstatic but kept her emotions in check. She was going to get to sleep for an hour more than normal! Of course, she was not going to tell that to her child. She was going to take advantage of his generosity.

Truth be told, I would have let The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi take advantage of our child’s generosity had none of the children been up. As it was though, Thing 2 and I had been up for about an hour together before Thing 3 came to join us. I would not let him break his promise to his mother, but I must confess that I was not very nice. I took advantage of a loophole to get The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi up at our usual 8:00 a.m.

Thing 2 was excited when his brother came downstairs, but became sad when he remembered we were not going to get to open presents until 9:00 o’clock. I was too. As we three sat there wondering what to do, Thing 3 thought that he could just go up and wake up his mother anyway since we were awake. I would not let him break his promise. After all, I always preach to my kids that their word is their bond. As we sat and brooded for a bit more, I saw the loophole. Not so innocently, I asked Thing 2 whether he had made the same promise to his mother. He assured me he had not. The faces of both the kids lit up and Thing 2 raced up the stairs to wake up his mother. It was 8 o’clock. I only felt guilty for a second.

Thing 1 came down shortly after The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and we ended up opening our presents at around 8:00 a.m. as we normally do. And I did not need to wake everybody up like I usually do. (Actually, I usually just get almost to the point of waking them up before one of the kids wakes up on his own and he wakes up the others.) This year was great because I got to share some of the early morning rising ritual with one of my sons. We did not need to whisper loudly to get everybody up like my brother and I used to do, but we got to spend some time being together with just a lamp and the light of the tree shining on us. It truly was reminiscent of my brother and I waiting in the dark for everybody else to rise.

I doubt if getting up early will be an annual event for any of my children. Still, if any of them starts getting up early on Christmas morning, I will no longer think that something is wrong with them. And I will be glad for the company.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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