Monday, December 19, 2005

Sister Christmas

For a couple years when my stepsister and I were little, we'd spend the week before Christmas devising a trap to catch Santa. We spent a lot of time on this, because can you imagine the stir it would cause if we caught the guy? I'm not sure if we actually wanted to do anything to him or hold him for ransom. We just wanted to see how he got in and out of the house, watch him do his work, then shake him down for more presents.

The usual plan was to set up the trap, then sleep in one-hour shifts, which is just a fantastic plan for a 7- and 5-year-old and totally not destined to fail at all. The first year, Karen took the starting shift and said she'd wake me a few hours later when it was my turn. Naturally, she fell asleep on the job, never woke me for my shift and we awakened Christmas morning to find that our booby trap had been dismantled.

The next year, we got a touch smarter, but lazier. We set up the trap with a string running across the floor in the hallway, and tied to my foot. It would not only trip Santa, but it would wake me when he fell. It had the added benefit of completely eliminating the need for sleeping in shifts. It was brilliant! We woke up Christmas morning to find the string had been cut.

Santa was a sneaky mofo, that's for sure.

We gave up on Santa after that, but we kept the other part of our routine until well after we both grew up and moved away from home.

Our first house, in Fremont, didn't have enough bedrooms to hold both Karen and my stepbrother Glenn, plus my brother and I when we came to visit. Karen's room had a rollaway bed I slept on. The day my dad and stepmom bought it, Karen and I raised it and jumped on it until it collapsed, sending a loud "BOOM!" rattling through the house. My stepmom came into the room to find out what happened, and we were all whistles and innocent looks.

On Christmas Eve, we'd pull out the rollaway and sleep next to each other. Karen always woke up first on Christmas morning. She'd climb out of bed, wander out to the living room to go look at the tree, then run back into our room, jump on my bed, smack me with a pillow and, if Christmas had been good to us, she'd shriek "WE GOT THE BIG PRESENT WE GOT THE BIG PRESENT!" Every year, my dad and stepmom would alternate whether the boys or the girls got the big present, as in, the physically biggest present. We hadn't figured out the "small packages" adage yet.

We moved across the Bay to Foster City when I was 13, and the new house had enough space for everyone to have their own room. Despite that, Karen and I decided we would keep up our Christmas routine. I'd sleep on the rollaway in her room and she'd beat my ass with a pillow in the morning and scream about presents in my ear. The routine continued after I moved to Florida in 1998 and came home for holiday visits.

We finally had to knock it off in 2001 after Karen got married. I don't think her husband, Ray, would have been so wild about me sleeping next to them, and he definitely wouldn't have tolerated her pillow smackdowns as well as I did.

I think that was the Christmas I finally realized we had to grow up whether we liked it or not, and things weren't always going to be the same. Our pancake face breakfasts have been upgraded to eggs benedict, and we're not so fooled by the huge boxes anymore. Oh, and we can pour ourselves a few drinks at the family Christmas party and feel free to get a little tipsy. Growing up isn't all bad.

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Tomorrow morning, way too early for my tastes, the Mr. and I are going home to the Bay Area for a bit. I have grand plans to update often, especially the week after Christmas. I'm also bringing my cord to upload photos periodically. We'll see how it all shakes out. If you don't hear from me, I hope all of you have a wonderful [insert holiday here].