Brother and I have a long-standing tradition each year at Christmas. The two of us historically have had ants in our pants a matter of days before the event and, despite the fact that we're both in our 30's, this has not lessened where giving each other presents is concerned. What sustains us for another few days is each of us once agreed when we were much younger that I would let him open one present from me and he gave me one from him to open. Really, it's not so much of an agreement, more of a necessity. It's so hard to get wired for a holiday that the consumer-driven world starts marketing to death in SEPTEMBER, and then you're repeatedly bombarded with sales, traffic and people for months to come. It's funny, but this little burst of excitement is so sweetly painful to both of us that only one present a piece, opened early, seems to be an aspirin of sorts. I don't think we've even ever told either of our parents just how many years we've been committing this taboo act.
I only have one present for Tommy this year and I'm so truly excited about the gift I'm giving him and a similar one I have for Mostly Naked, that everything else tied to the holiday is eclipsed. I even surprise myself with this spirit of giving, because for most of the year, in my own head anyway, it's "gimme, gimme, gimme."
Last night, as Brother is signing the pile of mutual Christmas cards (yes, those of you who are receiving, they're gonna be late), I'm sitting on the bench by our picture window, looking at my first real tree in years, modestly decorated and with presents from my mom tucked under it. And the case of beer for M.N. (not the present I'm excited about, btw).
I inform my brother that I've only given him one present this year, so it looks like our tradition will be somewhat fractured. And honestly, I don't even care if he doesn't honor his end of the deal...me--> too excited about my gift to him. After a few minutes, I say to him, "Wanna open it?" He replies without looking up from signing, "Nope."
Me: "DAMN YOU!"
Brother looks up and says, "Look, it's not like I don't know what it is...I saw you bring it in and the shape was a dead giveaway."
Me: "I don't care if you know what it is already. I'm just so spazzed out about you opening it and seeing how utterly awesome it looks."
I begin to go into detail regarding how I snagged the item necessary for Mostly Naked's similar present (not the beer). Which is to say, sneaky web surfing, discreet contacts, and a tiny bit of subterfuge. He interrupts me in mid-sentence...
Brother: "Wait? That's what you got me??"
I halt, my mouth hanging open.
Me: "DAMN YOU!"
Brother: "I'm kidding. I knew already."
Me: "DAMN YOU!" I'm actually shaking my head back and forth and stomping my feet rapidly in a seated tantrum. "Wanna open it?"
Me: "DAMN YOU!"
Him: "You know, as much fun as the 'open one early' thing is...torturing you? WAY more fun."
Me: Silence. Damn him.
Would he make a great hostage negotiator or what? ...or maybe I'm just that big a sucker.