Solomon turned six on December 17th. Hanukkah started December 22nd. Christmas on December 25th. I’m all about my Judeo-Christian roots. Baruch hata Adonai. Still, that’s too many presents.
Have we spoiled Solomon and Samson? Maybe. Solomon struts around the house in his new Super Mario Cap like Emperor Nero during the fire. Samson prances around with his new sloth “Fuzzy” as though he is Elon Musk unsupervised on Twitter. The boys flaunt their privilege with frivolous abandon.
“Is it time to open my birthday gifts?”
“I want to open my Hanukkah present!”
“Gimme, gimme, gimme!”
I like giving. Especially to my children. Their excitement on Christmas morning is something else. And they had one heck of a winter break. Toys and food and family and all that. And it’s not like we’ve spent a fortune this Christmas. Unlike Emperor Nero and Elon Musk, we are poor. Still, we did our best to give the boys as much as we could give this holiday season.
All this giving has taken a toll. I think there’s another gray hair on my temple. Katie twitches more than she used to. Send help. Rome is burning.
Rome isn’t actually burning, it’s just smoldering. At least in the metaphor I’ve established here. The conflagration might be out of control in different metaphors. See this song by Son Volt.
I’ve got a couple of favorite presents the boys received this year. And by favorite, I mean Rome is smoldering. I’ll tell you about a few here.
Samson used his gift card from his Grandma and Pa to get a recycling truck from Target.
“I can put stuff in here!” he said with enthusiasm at the store. I nodded and smiled, because I always nod and smile at Samson’s jubilation. The kid is jubilant. I underestimated the ramifications of Samson’s cheerful statement in Target.
Samson ran upstairs when we got home. I put away some groceries. Did a few chores. Time passed. Samson was being surprisingly quiet. I searched the house for him. I found him in his bedroom. With the recycling truck. He was at work.
“What are you doing, Samson?” I asked with rising terror.
“Taking the garbage to the dump.”
Samson had spent an hour gathering items from all over the house. He had, indeed, been bringing things to the dump. There was an enormous pile of crayons, cars, and tiny odds and ends in his bedroom. It would take an eternity to sort through these items and clean up his bedroom.
Samson has always had a healthy fascination with sanitation workers. He likes to sit on the step when the garbage truck drives by. He giggles with excitement if they wave at him. Trashy Town is one of his favorite books. I might, despite all my careful parenting, be raising a garbage person. So be it. I’m not one to shame a profession.
I tried to smile as I helped Samson clean up the dump. He played the same game the next morning. And then the next day. And so on.
One of Solomon’s favorite gifts this year is a pair of Walkie Talkies.
“Are these real Walkie Talkies?” he squealed as he tore through wrapping paper.
“Sure are, bud.”
“Samson!” Solomon howled. “We can play our preschool game!”
Solomon and Samson like to play preschool. They pretend to be teachers. They each have different classrooms. There’s imaginary students. Orange Pop and Root Beer are two of their students’ names. Root Beer is not a good student. Samson is often scolding Root Beer. Anyway, the boys pretend to have Walkie Talkies like the teachers at their preschool use. So this gift was a real boon.
My pride in the boys’ imaginative play wore off quickly. Solomon was in the basement. Samson upstairs. They were screaming into their Walkie Talkies and laughing like maniacs.
“Pooping on the potty!” Samson’s amplified chant echoed through the house. “Pooping on the potty.”
“Penises are everywhere!” Solomon’s voice had the volume of Axl Rose crooning about that sweet child of his. “Penises are everywhere!”
I braced for another conversation about calming down. About potty words. These are discussions that take up much of my time these days.
Rome smoldered and smoldered.
I’m happy when my kids are happy. I’m sure most parents are like that. At least I hope they are. And Solomon and Samson were very happy over the holidays. I love my boys very much and so I’m happy they were happy. Besides, I think that anybody living in this age of consumerism has been slightly spoiled. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Mine, mine, mine. There’s a touch of that in everybody I’ve met. Certainly in me. Humans can be greedy, man. Beware.
But people can be generous, too. All sorts of people have been generous to me. I still remember when my great-grandmother – my Gammy – bought me a Super Nintendo in 1991. I nearly feinted with excitement. And I appreciate the more-complex generosity of loved ones, friends and family, in my thirties. Time, energy, and resources – there’s all sorts of giving in these things. I’m grateful for the love of the people I love. That’s true during the holidays, sure, but it’s true all the time and forever. Giving seems an expression of something eternal and important – a sincere love and care for others. There’s something of Jesus in that generosity, I think, for those of you who’d like me to remain seasonal in this blog. Straight Judeo-Christian, baby.
So I don’t mean to sound cantankerous here. It’s funny to me when I strike that tone in these blogs. An old man raging about the exuberance of youth. That’s not really me. It makes me laugh to pretend that it is.
“Clean up that dump! Stop screaming about penises on your Walkie Talkie! Get off my lawn.”
I understand the sentiment behind statements such as these more as I get older. But I don’t really buy into them. Make a mess, Samson. Scream at the top of your lungs, Solomon. I don’t really have that many gray hairs. Katie doesn’t actually twitch. Rome isn’t burning. It’s not even smoldering. It’s thriving. At least in this metaphor. Not in this one.