Sunday, November 18, 2012

Parentally Devious

This time of year brings out a lot of memories. Every Thanksgiving I think about the year we ate at a cousin's still partly unfinished house. I don't remember many details, except that they had a lot more snow than had fallen at home, and the unfinished portion upstairs seemed much larger than it actually was, and full of potential. I have a permanent image in my mind of my uncle emerging from some mysterious place behind a wall (and by wall I mean frame without drywall). I'm sure it was actually quite ordinary, but in my mind I am still in awe of whatever went on there.

Some of the fondest memories involve decorations. For three months, our house was adorned with all sorts of extra holiday novelties. Among the October knicknacks were a wax ghost-in-a-pumpkin that smelled like happiness, and a spider that I can only describe as sharp. November included a pair of squirrels dressed as pilgrims and a cornucopia. December, of course was the most ornate month of all, with trees and lights and candles. Putting up decorations--especially Christmas decorations--was always the greatest thing imaginable. Once I came home from a friend's house to find all the Thanksgiving trinkets already in place because someone important (probably grandparents) was on their way. I still feel the heartbreak some 2 decades later.

There was one thing I never understood about the decorating process however: my mom always made us clean the house first.

Why, if we are putting a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, do we have to clean the kitchen? It was a baffling riddle. Nevertheless, it happened pretty much every time. Today, at last, I fully realized the beauty of that arrangement.

Mogli was (is)  desperate to get Christmas underway. He began begging to get the tree out before he had even had breakfast. I explained to him that we needed to clean the family room so we had a place to put everything while we rearranged furniture and sorted through lights and decorations. About 5 minutes later it was done. Not wanting to lose any momentum, I told him he needed to get his room clean before we could do anything fun (standard practice). He went right to it without so much as a "whyyyy-uh?" (anything but standard).

In fact, he barely complained all day. I just had to find some way to connect a request to the prospect of a Christmas tree, and he couldn't get it done fast enough. He vacuumed Captain Hook's mess of muffin crumbs three times, the second and third without even being asked.

I shamelessly exploited that kid's desire to have a Christmas tree all day long. As a result, there is a tree in my house almost a week early. And I'm okay with both of those facts.