I grew up poor but happy. Some of my most pleasant memories involve rushing downstairs on Christmas Day and witnessing a carefully constructed cacophony of brightly wrapped presents surrounding the tree. Everything was small and cheap, but all of it was something wrapped that had to be unwrapped. Much of the joy of that day was experienced in the act of unwrapping. To a poor kid who spent too much of his free mind time daydreaming about next year’s Christmas, the anticipation of waiting to see was waiting for me inside the brightly-colored festive paper, followed by the release of latent energy resulting from quickly and violently ripping away the outside to see what was on the inside, led to an emotional rush rarely tasted in the history of my morally secure life. Since I don’t do drugs or alcohol, this was the closest I would get to “getting high.” I vividly remember imagining a perfect world where my entire Christmas day was consumed in removing paper from presents.
That perfect world arrived last week, 45 years later. After 18 straight years in Maryland, we picked up and moved ourselves and decades of accumulated junk to North Carolina. Professional movers securely surrounded everything we own with endless amounts of packing paper, then shipped it to our new home in Raleigh. They basically deposited a buhzillion boxes in various locations around the house, then left us with the enviable task of unwrapping it all. It would be Christmas all over again.
Initially, the idea of looking forward to rediscovering everything we owned was emotionally encouraging. After the first hour of unwrapping doodads destined for the kitchen, I had already broken my previous Christmas day record for consecutive unwrapping minutes. By the end of day two, my satisfied soul was saturated with 16+ hours of discovery. At day five, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of both worldly goods that had been liberated from storage boxes as well as the mountainous pile of possessions yet to be processed. It was mine. All mine.
The allure and excitement of wondering what was inside the next wad of paper had been replaced by the monotony of what was actually inside - perhaps another used umbrella from the old coat closet or a damaged domino tin from the old game chest? Where were the remotes for the entertainment systems? There were a few surprises –why do we have two copies of “The Empire Strikes Back” DVD? - but there wasn’t enough of the undiscovered to balance out the massive amounts of the well-known.
So, the moral of the story here is be careful what you wish for as a young Christmas kid, because by the time it is granted decades later, it may be too much of a good thing.