Stepping back to the 25th, I awoke to the sounds of ebullient whispers coming from downstairs as I lie in Julia’s bed, which she’d carefully made for me. I checked my watch, noticed that it was 6:40 a.m., and remembered that Shirley put her foot down about not opening any presents until seven. The kids were already up, of course, their internal alarm clocks set to spring in anticipation, even after we stayed up late the night before, playing wrestling games until the threat of Santa not coming put them to bed.
Instead, Santa went all out this year, from Nintendo DS, to mp3 players, to boxes on boxes of clothes, to DDR dance pads, to portable DVD players, to games for every system. He also left me a mini remote-control Mercedes SLK, and I’d normally say that he shouldn’t have so he could spend more on the kids, but he also left Braden and Bill a mini Hummer and mini Mustang GT respectively, so I had to accept the gift in order to race them.
Just being there was enough of a gift. As the kids ran around, unable to decide what to play with first, I started to consider staying so I could spend the day, but the responsibility of prior engagements and time with the parents kept me in check. We had a big greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs, but ____ was there to pick me up for the four hour drive home before the turkey dinner.
Next year, I decided.