A Very 8YO Me Christmas

I never believed believed in Santa, or at least I don't think so. I guess my parents were just major cynics about the whole thing. For me, Christmas was always far more pragmatic than "magical." Long car rides around the neighborhood at night to go look at the people's lights were the highlights of our traditions, so if there's one thing I still love about this time of year, it's the lights.

Christmas for me was about jumping in the warm car to go tramp around in the ice cold evening wind for an hour or two admiring the lights around the lake, usually accompanied with a trip to the local church light display said to be one of the biggest on the eastern seaboard. Waiting as dad drove us around in circles in the packed parking lot was about as magical as it got. It was considered a "miracle" if we found a prime spot right up front (near the nativity set). Those glowing figurines always looked so innocent when caught in the headlights.

Yes, Christmas was about the details of getting through it. One year, me, my dad, and my brother attempted to assemble the fake Christmas tree, and it took nearly the whole day. We rolled the plastic Douglas Fur out of the box, and when the trunk wasn't fitting together, my dad literally took the thing to his workbench in pieces to rig up some PVC piping to hold them in place. His explanation was that by the time the thing was decorated we wouldn't even notice it, before going off on a tirade against the "plastic Christmas tree industry" for over-engineering the thing so damn much with their "know-it-all college degrees." We stuck the pieces together, bottom to top, and set to work unfolding the branches. Then we took a step back, and something didn't look quite right. "Dad, I think it's upside down..." I said.

Sure enough, the tree started out small at the bottom and was exploding near the top. After a laugh, we pulled it apart, tore off all the "modifications," and put it together the way those college-educated know-it-alls at the company most likely intended. We threw on some ornaments and three hours after we had first taken it from the box, it was up, with all its pieces in the right order. Something tells me it would've been up in twenty minutes if mom was home. *knock knock* "Do they still make wooden Christmas trees?"

Welcome to the Jungle!
Lights have always been more my bag. It just isn't Christmas until you've untangled the thicket of green wires freshly gutted from the cardboard box, and then gone through one after another looking for that stubborn one that's out in the whole set. It's not really Christmas until you rig up the lights only to find out that none of the reds work. It was never really Christmas until we had littered the living room floor with wrapping paper and the boxes of ornaments, fought over who got to use the tape and where the extra scissors went, and wrapped all the presents like tootsie rolls because I couldn't wrap a box worth a damn. Then I guess, it wasn't really Christmas until we came up from our bedroom in the morning to find waaay more gifts than were there the night before, knowing that mom and dad must've had a busy night (especially if a new Lego set was in there!). Magic!

Merry Chex-Mix.

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