23 December 2003
When do get to open my presents? Now? Can I open one now? Can I? Please? Please?Meg says:
If you’ve ever been a child – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you probably have – you will understand that some things can wait, and some things need to be done immediately, because if you wait a moment longer the world might explode. No, it’s true.
Children at Christmas understand this only too well, which is why at 4am you wake up pinned by the weight of a small child on your chest, merrily waving a wrapped gift in your face and demanding to open it. Once you’ve figured out who the child belongs to (hopefully you, otherwise, you might want to think about investing in some doors), you have a decision to make: When do you open the presents?
Of course, in order to bring the presents to you and attempt to nasally insert them as previously mentioned, the children have to find them.
Or be able to get to them.
I’m not advocating any kind of – what’s the word that means decapitation, except with legs?
Deleggytation. No. Another way of making the children unable to get to the presents.
I’ve known several families who make rules. Rules like;
“We’re going to tie this skipping rope across the top of the stairs, and no-one is allowed past it until the grown-ups wake up.
“We’re going to cover this middle stair in marbles, and if even one of them has moved by morning, there’s going to be trouble…” This is all well and good as long as Granny doesn’t need to use the downstairs toilet in the night.
But at least she’d be good and grateful to open her presents. When she eventually came to.
Of course, even having a skipping rope at the top of the stairs and and unconcious body at the bottom wouldn’t be a problem for most children.
More of a bonus, really, obstacle course and that…
The more the challenge, the greater the reward. Skipping rope?
Pah, make that piano wire…
In some countries (mostly in Northern Europe), the present-opening centres around Christmas Eve, and Christmas day itself is in fact devoid of gifts. In other cultures, no presents appear until Epiphany, January 6. In the rest of the Christian and secular-but-celebrating-Crimbo-all-the-same world, the twenty-fifth is the proper day – but the question of when still remains.
Some families prefer to open theirs early, before the coffee has even percolated. These families usually contain small children.
Some people prefer to wait until after lunch – because going to church is a priority.
Other families do it mid-afternoon, when lunch is either just about to be served or sitting heavily in their stomachs.
Others yet show unimaginible restraint and hold off until the early hours of the evening, just before the BBC blockbuster comes on telly.
These families usually have children who don’t need reminding to go to the loo before setting off on a long journey, or know that they’ll be receiving educational books again from their teacher parents, and frankly, aren’t that excited in the first place.
Mum: “Come on now, Toby, Caroline: would you like to open your presents, then?”If you open your gifts early, at the crack of dawn, you maximise your enjoyment of them. However, be warned. Premature unwrapping can mean that your day peaks too soon – because if you’ve opened all the surprises by breakfast, what else is there to look forward to? On the other hand if you open them late, you risk building your gifts into a climax which they cannot possibly meet.
Toby and Caroline, watching Toy Story: “Not especially”
It’s a risky business, this present opening malarkey, and one that’s fraught with pitfalls.
So you don’t open them before breakfast, because it’s peaking too early, it’s true. And as already discussed, 'breakfast' is going to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
To anyone that has been at work until the last possible day before Christmas, breakfast should reasonably be brunch, which is reasonable since for many people lunch turns into, into, dunch? Linner?
A mid afternoon extravaganza, a seemingly endless torture, however you like to see it.
So if lunch (Tench? Lea?) isn’t going to be 'til later, then there should be some time for opening presents then.
In our family, however, this was usually taken up with a so-called 'healthy walk' - healthy because it was biting cold, and the aim seemed to be to see how fast we had to walk before all the children were too breathless to say; "Can we go home and open our presents now I want to go home and open my presents, when can we go home and open our presents?"
Usually about 45 mph, which is not bad for little legs.
I’m going with the Germans on this one. Midnight it will be, for me, for ever more. A climactic moment, peak at midnight on Christmas eve, present-wise, then the rest of the day – after sleeping the sleep of the loved, can be filled with wonderful Christmas things.
Way too much food, farting family members, Godawful television and flimsy paper hats.
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