‘Has he been? Is it time? Can we go downstairs yet?’ When these questions finally meet a yes on Christmas morning, some poor souls stare their presents right in the ribbons until the afternoon. How unbearably proper.
My family has never been one for the ultra-early mornings; you know, the parents who’re resurrected from their dead-tired slumber after wrapping into the wee hours – or once in my dad’s case, assembling a go-kart that was ridden a grand total of one time – only for their door to be slung open with Big Bird oomph and a high-pitched Slade impression barely a few hours later.
Debate can be had about the right time to get up on the most festive day of the year; some people go straight in at midnight, others descend the stairs at 3.00am, some rise up at 5.00am, and many – like myself – look at anywhere between 7:30-9.0am. Regardless, can we at least all agree that it borders on inhumane to make children wait until later in the day – god forbid, the evening! – to open presents?
Before I go all high and mighty on the high and mighty, I’ll run you through my traditional Christmas day (without factoring in work, of course): let’s say we get up around 8.00am. My brother, mum, dad, gran and I congregate in the living room, where we’ll do stockings and presents. Afterwards, we clean up the wrapping paper and some people have a cooked breakfast (I eat some chocolate). Then, the usual holiday stress ensues.
While most people I know open their presents in the morning, well before dinner and drinks, there are some demented families who choose to wait. In my experience, it’s the posher among us who favour this pace of Christmas Day gift-giving; in 2018, Pointless’ Richard Osman tweeted, ‘The issue of class, of where we all fit, and the boundaries that separate one class from another, are so complex and multi-faceted. But, basically, it all boils down to this. The later you open your presents on Christmas Day, the more middle class you are.’
That said, a lawyer friend of mine walked me through his festivities with gritted teeth, so it’s not exactly a well-loved tradition even among those who do/are subjected to it.
There are some caveats I’m just about willing to accept: maybe one of the parents works the nightshift so it allows them a chance to get a rest; perhaps several family members are travelling in from afar on the day, so it’s better to preserve the exchanging of prezzies for everyone to be involved, like in The Family Stone. And, yes, if you want to be really selfless and disingenuous, you can say presents don’t really matter.
Ultimately though, my issue with keeping the presents until later in the day has nothing to do with me; barring religious meaning, Christmas is for the kids. The memories they have, the presents they’ll receive, the joy in their eyes when they rip open that one thing they’ve been dying for, will be the best when they’re young.
As an adult, seeing kids open games consoles on Christmas Day just reminds me of my own ecstasy way back when. For children, it really is the most exciting time of the year – it’s Santa Claus, for goodness sake! Don’t continue the cycle of yuletide abuse – just open your presents in the morning.
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