Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Advent of Patience

The holiday season requires patience. Few things test one’s patience like having to shop for gifts this time of year. Fellow customers (or competitors) seem to be pushier, smellier and less respectful of personal space. Those who have patience survive with their sanity intact. Those who don’t end up mentioned in the newspaper where their acts of aggression toward their fellow shoppers read like an Onion article.

Kids have it worse. I can remember sitting in the front room, thinking about my presents, staring at the tree the way people step off the curb and stare down the street looking for the bus on a cold day, as if staring is going to make it get there any faster. I focused all my mental energy at the empty void beneath the tree and tried to will my presents to appear but only succeeded in giving myself a headache.

Now, with Christmas decorations going up and holiday sections of department stores getting stocked immediately after Halloween, the seed of anticipation is planted even earlier these days than it used to be. It’s no wonder that my sons seem on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

They’ve already been waiting so long for December to get here, they reason Christmas must be just around the corner. The concept of time has completely escaped them. I imagine they feel like they’ve stepped into an M.C. Escher sketch where each step forward leaves them just as far or somehow further from their destination than they were previously. I sense they have reached the limits of their sanity.

As if this weren’t enough, enter: advent calendars. Their grandparents gave them each their own Lego Advent Calendars (City, model #2824 and Kingdoms, model #7952) on Thanksgiving and they could barely even wait until the first of December to open the first door. Now, with each door opened, they take the opportunity to try and peek into the other parts of the box and see what awaits them.

While this has strained their patience even further, it has also given them an outlet for their aggression. Now, instead of tearing through the house, looking for hidden gifts, they focus on the boxes containing twenty-four tiny doors, wondering how they might convince me to allow them to open them all up early. Instead of rolling around on the floor beneath the tree in mental anguish, the think of ways to concoct excuses to tear open the entire box at once.

They still whine and beg from time to time, but it’s becoming more bearable. Slowly they are relenting on the pressure. Perhaps they will learn more patience from this whole ordeal. That would be a gift I’d like to receive this Christmas. Then I can sleep in heavenly peace.

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