Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!

My wife’s family has an entertaining tradition every year on the Thanksgiving weekend. No, shopping at 4:00 a.m. is not the tradition I am speaking of (although I must admit, I did participate in the madness in an effort to collect stories for this column and was overwhelmed with good material, but I digress). The family has a tradition of holding a Christmas gag gift party on the Friday evening following Thanksgiving. This party has all the makings of a wonderful “kick-off” to the Christmas season including the decoration of the Christmas tree, Christmas music, games, and the exchanging of gifts (the twist to the gift exchange is that is cannot be store bought, rather, it must be a “regift”, which often leads to great hilarity).

However, the true highlight of the evening is the fellowship with friends and family that we only get to see a few times a year. The air is filled with laughter and games and kids run through the house playing tag in a crowded living room. This particular night started off with a “bang” as the boys playing ball in the hallway knocked a picture off the wall breaking the glass in the frame. The crash brought a momentary silence to the room as only the sound of something breaking can do. My son, in classic “good boy” fashion, broke the silence with a loud yell, “I didn’t do it!” The room broke out into loud laughter. We didn’t realize he was only warming up the crowd for a later performance.

As the evening progressed through game playing and gift exchange (the most sought after gift ultimately was a mailbox . . . explains the humor of this holiday tradition), the children played heartily until they wore themselves out. Finally, my son was ready for bed. Unfortunately for him, although everyone was slowly getting ready to leave, the house was still full of family. Even though he was having fun with cousins, aunts, and uncles, his drowsiness was getting the better of him. Eventually, my four year old son had reached the end of his patience and he approached multiple family members and simply said, “It’s time for you to go. Its dark outside and its bedtime. The party is over.” Laughter once again erupted.

As we were all sharing the story and laughing about my son’s desire to clear the family out, we prompted him to apologize for being a little rude; funny, yes, but rude. So, he says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know your car was blocked.” (Cue laughter.) Shortly after, I noticed he was putting on his jacket. I followed him outside only to watch him directing traffic in the driveway and motivating people to head home. “Move your car, it’s time to go home!” he yelled. Once I got him back in the house and everyone was gone or leaving, he asked to turn on the television. That is when it hit his grandfather (or ‘papa’ as he lovingly refers to him) why there was an urgency in our son clearing out the party. Earlier in the evening he had asked ‘Papa’ if he could watch television and his papa said, “Not until everyone is gone.” To close the fun evening, we all burst into laughter one last time. The morale of the story, even fun visitors can stay too long, especially if you are four years old.

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