There are times you don’t need pajamas. Now before you think this is about an amorous bedroom moment, it’s not. It’s about Christmas.
In early December I got a phone call from my grandma. “What do you want for Christmas sweetie?”
“An exploding volcano kit!” I yelled into the phone, “You make a volcano with lava that comes out!”
“Oh, that’s nice sweetie.” (This means, “I don’t know what you are saying, but I’ll text your mom so she can send me the link.”)
“It’s real grandma! It blows up!” My six year old imagination envisioned fake lava flowing all over the kitchen table where I was pretty sure my mom would let me play with my new toy. At the end of the call I had that warm feeling, the one where you know your grandma is going to get you exactly what you asked for.
What I didn’t know was some grown up was going to sabotage my desire to learn about hot lava in a safe environment. Somebody told my grandma something terrible,”Don’t get the grand kids anything big for Christmas this year. Get them matching pajamas and take pictures! This is a wonderful memory.”
I’m not sure why grown ups say things like this. But it usually starts out with, “Oh they don’t need anything…” And then grown ups get off on a tangent and talk about waste, and gluttony, and how, “kids have it so good these day.” And grown ups totally miss the point.
It’s not about kids needing anything. It’s about memories, a feeling of joy, and not feeling like you got a toilet for Christmas, which is very utilitarian, much like pajamas.
We know what Christmas is about. It’s about Jesus. But he’s not in the manger anymore. He moved. And He grew up too, which means he was once six years old. And He gets it that we are excited about our presents.
I’d thought about my exploding volcano kit for weeks. And when we finally pulled up to grandma’s house I jumped out of the car and ran so fast I slammed into her with a knock-down hug. Still hanging on to the hug I whispered really loud in her ear, “Grandma, when we going to open presents?”
Grandma quickly rushed me away from the grown ups so I wouldn’t get in trouble. She took me by the hand and led me into the living room, “Shhh…shhh…see there’s your present.” She pointed to a rectangle present under her sparkly Christmas tree.
My rectangle present was sitting next to four other rectangle presents. I knew the exploding volcano kit came in a rectangle box, but my present didn’t look like the right size rectangle. And all the other rectangle presents looked the exact same size as mine!
Did grandma get all the kids exploding volcano kits? I doubted it, there three big kids and two babies. The babies were exploding volcanoes without a kit.
I thought about it for a flash second and then thought MAYBE grandma found something even BETTER than an exploding volcano kit.
I got all smiley on the inside and looked up at her, “What did you get me?” I knew this had to be spectacular! Something so spectacular that I couldn’t even guess it! Like maybe a dog.
Since my grandma knew it would kill a dog to wrap them up and put them in a rectangle box, she probably gave us each dog outfits! And there was probably a note inside that said, “Please pick out a rescue dog that will fit in these clothes.” And she probably got us small dog clothes because that would limit us to small rescue dogs that don’t have hair that tangles up the the vacuum roller and makes the vacuum smell like it’s going to catch on fire.
This was going to be amazing. The kids would get dogs. The grown up wouldn’t have hairy messes on their fancy couches. And everyone was going to be happy!
My grandma smiled and went back into the kitchen. I stayed by the Christmas tree dreaming about my rescue dog.
After a long time of little teeny tiny food bites and grown ups drinking wine, we finally got to sit down at the kid table for the big meal.
The kids table is better than the grown up table we could play with the candle wax, fight real quietly, and talk about stuff kids like. There were three of us. My sister, Tina and my cousin, Joey. The other two were babies and the moms had to hold them.
Our table was a disguised wobbly card table that grandma used for her bridge group each month. She covered it with a real pretty paper Hallmark tablecloth that had snowflakes on it. This made us feel special like the grown ups.
Our moms plopped nice full plates of food in front of us and went off to their grown up table.
“I know what grandma got us,” I teased. I kept my head down trying to look nonchalant.
“She got us the same thing,” Tina said.
“You don’t know THAT!” I snapped.
“They are THE SAME! I saw THEM!” she said.
“WE’RE GIRLS! GRANDMA WOULDN’T GET US BOY PRESENTS!” I yelled at her.
“THEY ARE THE SAME THING. I KNOW!” And now we were getting loud. But I couldn’t let it go.
“THEY’RE NOT THE SAME..” And I begin to tick off all the reasons they are different.
She interrupts me, “GIRLS AND BOYS AREN’T THE SAME!”
“I DIDN’T SAY THAT…” and before I can prove my point a LOUD yelling voice came from the grown up table. It was my dad.
“STOP IT! KNOCK IT OFF!” (This is a great grown up tactic – you should always yell at kids to stop yelling by demonstrating what yelling is.)
We bowed our heads real quick and looked at our plates. In a few seconds we slowly made eye contact and scowled at each other. Since we couldn’t talk I reached over to play with the candle wax until it smelled like burnt hair, but not like a whole wig of burning hair because that would have really made my dad yell.
The grown ups were eating real slow and talking real loud. I poked some more on the candles and made a pretty cool sculpture that involved my fingernails making some impressive designs. Grandma came by to clear our plates and napkins and didn’t say anything about my candle sculpture. I knew she wanted to compliment me on the creativity, but she couldn’t because the grown ups would hear and then I’d get in trouble. So she gave me the grandma smile and walked away.
I looked at our table. We were left with two mutilated candle, water glasses, and a dessert fork for each of us. And we were still a long way away from presents.
More grown up talking. More grown up laughing. More grown up second helpings.
All three of us stare at each other. I sigh. Everyone sighed. I look at my dessert fork. And I thought this would make a great etcher. I grabbed it and etched snowflakes on the lines of the paper table cloth craftily cutting away a beautiful shaped snowflake revealing grandma’s bridge table underneath.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” Tina said as she carefully kicked her feet under the table avoiding the legs.
“You’re not,” my cousin said as he made balls out of the softened candle wax. Right then grandma walked by. This was my chance.
“Grandma,” I whined in my best whisper voice, “When can we open presents?”
“In a little bit sweetie.” She whispered back.
“Is it after dessert?”
And then we sat there. Again. For a long time. And then even longer. Finally some grown up made sense and said, “Why don’t we have dessert after presents?”
The moment we heard that all three of us jumped up so quick that the ice tinkled in the glasses, the water sloshed, and there was a substantial amount of wet sogginess under the glasses.
“SIT DOWN KIDS!” my dad yelled.
And we slowly sat down and put on our scowl face (again). Apparently ‘dessert after presents’ meant, “Let’s pour a few more drinks and talk while we wait for the smokers to go outside have a cigarette and grow some lung cancer.”
We sit back down. And sighed and scowled. But this time we decided to be team mates, there was a miniature paper mache craft area right in front of us due to the last slosh that got us in trouble. We pushed my snowflake etching into three mountains one for each of us. Then we smashed them with our fists, but real quietly. Then built them back into mountains. We did this until the last smoker came in hacking…. and then we knew it was time!
We flew off our chairs leaving the desecrated tablecloth behind and sat down in the living room only to find out we had to wait some more. The adults had to laugh about something and wobble over to the bar to fix their after dinner cafe amaretto.
Since they were taking forever grandma came to rescue us, “I’ll pass your presents out, but don’t open them until your parents sit down. OK?” I took mine and shook it.
It was light weight. Yup. Dog clothes. I didn’t want grandma’s feelings to be hurt so I thought about my surprise face and what words I would say. I rehearsed it in my head until the last grown up finally sat down.
“Ok, kids!” someone said, “Don’t make a mess. You can open up your presents.”
I ripped my paper off and there was a white box underneath. It the kind of white box the clothes people give you when you say, “Oh can I have a box for this outfit? It’s a gift.”
I slipped my hand under the white flap and scoot the top of the box up…up… up. And pop it off!
There’s tissue paper covering something up. And there’s a sticker holding the tissue paper in place so I won’t peek. I slip my finger under that annoying sticker and I can feel underneath something soft like dog clothes……..and I RIP OFF THE TISSUE! I look inside.
It was pajamas.
My face went soft. My heart bumped my chest. And a lump came in my throat.
“What do you say, kid?” my dad asked.
In my real soft library voice I said, “Thank you grandma,” and I looked back down at my box.
“You’re welcome sweetie.” Her voice didn’t sound right. I peeked up and she had that grandma-look. That one where grandmas want to make everything right, where they want to fix the world, and they will do anything they can, except she can’t, because someone gave her horrible advice.
I looked around. None of us got dog clothes. All the kids got pajamas!
One of the chipper grown ups said, “Everybody go put on your pajamas so we can get pictures.”
The moms changed the babies in their Christmas pj’s. The other grown ups talked loud. And us three big kids slowly got up. I trudged to the bathroom.
I closed the door and locked it. I sat on the cushy Christmas green toilet lid and I fiddled with my pajamas. They had a slippery round button at the neck and long sleeves. They looked pretty with the red stripe but they felt stiff and smelled like a plastic factory.
I got a finger bruise trying to undo the button so I decided to see if my head could fit through the hole without unbuttoning. This approach left little wiggle room to stick my arms in the sleeves and I got pajama burn all the way down the inside of my arm. And I knew I was in for a night of armpit cuts once I felt the starchy seams.
My sister and cousin came upstairs in their new crinkle-y pajamas. We looked at each other and grumbled. No one smiled. We walked real slow into the living room, and oh man, you would have thought we were kittens and puppies.
“OH MY GAWD! Look how cute!” my auntie squealed.
“HERE HERE!” one of the grown ups waved at me to come hug them. There was more cheering and rah rah and cheek pinching. A lot of, “Smile. Say cheese,” and flashing from the cameras as the searing light burned holes in our retinas. It was a whole lot of whoopty about nothing.
The tipsy grown ups still had to open their presents. “Can we play?” I asked.
“No. Sit down. All you kids sit down. It’s the grown ups turn.” And we sighed and sat down with the boring adults. I looked at the carpet and swirled my finger until the nap parted. I pretended it was lava that burnt away the land. I thought about the exploding volcano kit and pulled pieces of the carpet together to make the volcano. And I was just sad. Very sad.
Yes, I know Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Parents forget this when they put up the nativity scene. They stare at it too long and draw an odd spiritual correlation between swaddling clothes and pajamas which is probably why they say, “Get pajamas for the kids.”
Don’t do this. We don’t need pajamas for Christmas. This makes us sad. Very sad. And that’s exactly what Jesus DOESN’T want on His birthday.
(Thanks for reading. Hope it made you smile. Are you following me on Facebook? Why not? Everyone else does. ~ Lisa)