It was early on a dark and chilly Christmas morning. There was a low rustling sound in the house downstairs. I rolled over and pretended it was the cats. I had dragged myself to bed at 1 a.m. later that night and had no intention of peeling off the quilts until I absolutely had to. Our kids were too old for Santa. The youngest is in high school and the older 2 were college aged. The option of sleeping in was highly probable.
The rustling turned into music; loud, discordant music. I squinted at the clock. 7:30 on the dot. I groaned. My husband turned over without opening his eyes.
“It’s Dylan’s alarm clock. Tell him to shut it off.”
I listened carefully for a minute. The music was familiar.
“Kidnap the Sandy Claws
Throw him in a box
Bury him for ninety years
Then see if he talks.”
I remembered that earlier in the week, when I returned from work, I found my best tablecloth on the floor covered in paper mache and newspaper strips. The kids were working on masks and looking very sheepish about the project. Over 20 years of parenthood has taught me to keep my mouth shut about holiday crafts.
Now, in bed, on Christmas, the pieces were clicking together. 3 masks. “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme music. 3 crafty kids. Oh, I get it.
I tossed off the covers and summoned my husband.
“It’s not his alarm. It’s the kids. Come on Dave, we gotta go downstairs.”
We trotted downstairs towards the source of the music. Power cords lead us down the hall to the open bathroom door. The last chords of “Kidnap the Sandy Claws” jangled from speakers set up the floor. Dave and I stopped short at the bathroom door.
My adult-sized children were squeezed into the bathtub wearing costumes and holding weapons. The shower curtain was rolled up and wrapped with greenery, Christmas tree balls and lights. My kids started to giggle as Dave and I tried to take in the scene.
They had the costumes down pat. They were dressed like the 3 trick or treat characters named Lock, Shock and Barrel from the “Nightmare Before Christmas” animated movie. They had the clothes, the masks, the weapons for capturing Santa Claus from the scene in the movie in which these 3 characters traveled in a claw foot bathtub to Christmas land.
I was in awe. My kids spent hours of their time during the busiest time of year and good chunk of their hard earned money to pull off this 15 minute prank. They were willing go without adequate sleep for the joy of surprising us, their unsuspecting parents.
Dave and I have held the title of Holiday Maestros for over 2 decades now. We converted our backyard into a giant labyrinth on Halloween. We stayed up until 3 in the morning putting finishing touches on hand made gifts specially tailored for the quirky interests of our kids. We devised treasure hunts for birthday parties complete with maps, pirate costumes and a treasure chest with gifts for all the participants.
We always prided ourselves on our elaborate celebrations which substituted creativity and energy for money and equipment. As I surveyed the scene before me with bleary, early morning vision, one thing sharpened into focus at the back of my mind. The holiday tradition was evolving beyond Dave and I. It was now out of our hands.
Our children have taken holidays into their capable hands and are remolding them into a creatures that reflect their own creativity and interests. Dave and I may still have a few more tricks to throw at our kids over the next few decades but the true joy of having adult aged children is the return volley. They have good memories of holidays and are ready to create more excitement in the future. Bravo, maestros, bravo.
**Thanks to David Sierralupe for the photo.