Dad and I have a confession to make. We’ve numbered your gifts this year. Yes, as in we have predetermined what gift you will open first, second, third, etc. We loved doing this so much, it will most likely happen every year after this one. Sorry, not sorry. Dad and I fully know that this is neurotic and some day you may be telling your therapist about our obsessive-compulsivity to order and control. At the very least, you will probably be sitting around a table in a bar with your buddies, exchanging stories about how weird your parents were and how they completely traumatized you on your childhood Christmases. You’re welcome for the hilarious conversation material. Your friends will love your endearing, broken selves more as a result. Like I said before, you are welcome.
It will be a few years yet before you realize that most other parents just let their kids open up gifts all willy nilly, in any old order. Ridiculous and unsavory, those other parents.
Just so you know, Dad and I did have a 20 minute conversation where we considered the pros and cons of the numbering system. But Dad had already created a Christmas spreadsheet to track the financials and to make sure the presents equaled up between the two of you in money, size and number terms. I had already gone to Costco and bought a lifetime supply of the same exact wrapping paper because there cannot be presents under our tree with different prints or varied colored wrappers. Uniformity is close to holiness for me. Dad agrees. And of course, there is the issue of some presents needing to be opened before others because one gift will give away another. See? We had already jumped into this OCD cavern. There was no use in pretending our heads stuck out breathing normalized air. We were in deep and the darkness welcomed us.
The only con in our discussion being the issue of traumatizing you, which really, we already knew was going to happen, numbering system or not. So the predetermined present order won out. And I have to tell you, it was so much fun. Cue: maniacal laughing. There were numerous things to consider. We wanted to start out with an exciting present, mix in the boring stuff like clothes and underwear and toothbrushes. We thought about your reaction to receiving each one and we couldn’t lose your attention with the opening of socks so we mixed in the fun items. Of course, like the crescendo at the end of a song, we saved the best gift for last. That one labeled with the final number. We split apart certain gifts so we would have more to wrap and you would have more to open. Christmas morning needs to last as long as possible.
Back in the day, Dad used to make me artful and sentimental mixed cds. I know you don’t know what these are, but stay with me here; they were kind of like creating a playlist on Spotify, but instead you burned them onto this round plastic thing that you put into your car’s cd player. Well, not burned in the sense you think of, well, nevermind, this example is horrible. All of a sudden I’m realizing your mixed cd schema is nonexistent so I am going to have to ditch this description, sorry. Just know that Dad has a lot of practice putting the exact right order to things. You don’t put all the upbeat songs all clumped together. You have to mix in the slower, ballad-y ones. It’s good for your psyche, just trust me. He was a master at these magical mixed cds and now we have used these skills to create the best possible order for your presents.
So boys, please consider the bigger picture here. I know that you are flipping out with excitement right now. Counting down the days and setting your alarm for 4 a.m. on the Big Morning. I know you are excited to rip into these carefully numbered packages, but hang on for a second. Dad and my neuroticism is a prime exhibit of the saying, “It’s better to give, than to receive.” Really, it is. You may not understand this until you have kids though, or at least when you are in the position to give to someone whom you love more than the entire world. Someone with no means to give anything back to you. That’s where the real joy comes in.
Dad and I scoured the Amazon reviews and looked into all corners of the internet, in order to make sure each gift was perfect for you. We recorded each of these onto a spreadsheet, then wrapped them in monochromatic wrapping paper and labeled them lovingly with numbers. All of this because we receive so much joy out of giving you these gems. We want to stall in this moment of giving so we extend the process with spreadsheets and labels and numbers. Think of your excitement level right now, then multiply it by a million, or a billion. That number doesn’t even come close to our level; it’s like an ant crawling around on a hillside of apatasauruses. I don’t know if you’ll fully understand our weirdness and that’s okay. I just hope you’ll come to discover that the pure joy is found not when you fill up with things, but when you empty out for someone else. And when you find that moment, sit there a while. Enjoy it, even if it means processing it through spreadsheets.
Receiving gifts is great fun, but giving them, oh my gosh, so much better. Especially when you add in order and control with a side of crazy.