That was the sobering moment I truly became an adult.
Growing up, Christmas only involves being a ‘Kid Participant’. You do nothing but enjoy the bizarre ride. You wake up, and an elderly, bearded man in a red suit has broken into your home during the night and done a reverse-burglary. He’s left YOU presents. (For us, it was in a pillow case at the end of our beds.) He’s also consumed the milk and cookies you left for him, making sure to leave one cookie only half-bitten as proof of his late-night presence.
We would then head to the living room, where presents under the tree were only allowed to be opened when the adults of the house were awake. For some reason they were always exhausted, having been up late ‘preparing’ things the night before. Didn’t they know it was the night before Christmas? DIDN’T THEY KNOW THEY NEEDED THEIR REST? Idiots.
Adults finally out of bed and presents ripped open, it was time to get dressed in ‘something nice’ as we were to be driven to either our grandma or uncle’s house for Christmas lunch. We would relax in the back of the car, not noticing the horrific traffic, too transfixed by our new toys/pointless crap that we’d forget about in a week to care that being a driver in conditions like that could lead to a stress-related aneurism.
Upon arrival at our lunch destination, we would be spoiled with even more presents, the discarded wrapping paper of which was always mysteriously cleaned up within five minutes, so as not to allow for any wasted present-playing time. It was then that we were – GASP! – expected to amuse ourselves while lunch was finished being prepared. Whatever was going on in the kitchen seemed complicated, given the stressed groans and occasional ‘FUCKING HELL’ that could be heard every ten minutes or so. ‘What could be so hard about making lunch?’ I would think, sprawled out on the couch with my new Goosebumps book.