I was literally exploding with anticipation as I waited on pins and needles at the top of the stairs. I was deaf from straining my ears, yearning to hear the “special music” that signaled my siblings and me that we were allowed to begin the painstaking descent down the stairs. I knew what I would see first: my dad fixing us in his sights with the camcorder, my mom aiming her favorite weapon (the camera). We would have to pause for an eternity at the bottom of the stairs so she could shoot ten thousand pictures of us in our pajamas and sleepy, excited faces. Finally, finally we’d be allowed to go forward into the den where our presents from the Big Man waited.
I would linger over each item with my eyes from about an arm’s length away, not wanting to seem too overeager to indulge in the new toys. I was the oldest, after all, and had to set a good example. What I wanted to do was run in screaming and jumping onto my new toys and wallow all over them the way cartoons did. I would be excited. I always was. I had whored out my good behavior for the last month or so in hopes of just such a return.
Was that it? The delicate music of the Reginaphone set in rotation? Happiness bubbled and welled up inside me and I squealed, mauling my sisters’ hands as I dragged them down the stairs with me.