(Editor Note: This Tyrades! column was originally published in December of 2004)
Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
Baby Gideon Lewis Tyree turned nine months old on December 6. We didn’t get to dwell on that milestone because he’s already in high gear for his first Christmas.
I know it’s a cliche, but having a child around the house (after 13 years of a two-person household) helps me see Christmas in a different light. For instance, I wonder if the Wise Men started out as Wise Babies. (“How wise is baby Balthazar? Soooooo wise!!”)
As a pre-toddler, Gideon gets to coast on the “naughty or nice” stuff this year. The bar is set pretty low, sort of like for Cabinet-level positions. (“I soiled myself and don’t know what I’m talking about -but at least I didn’t hire an illegal nanny.” “Good, you’re nominated.”)
Gideon is still at the age where we can take him along shopping for his own gifts. It’s an emotional trip, filled with separation anxiety. No, not about getting lost in the department store -- about getting separated from my paycheck.
Gideon enjoys the Christmas lights and decorations, but to be completely honest, he could also spend long stretches amusing himself with my jacket zipper or a postcard of paint drying. He hasn’t been particularly impressed by the “five-foot dancing Santa” at a major retailer. As the jolly old elf gyrates and thrashes about, Gideon seems to be thinking, “Someone get this patient an epidural!”
Gideon should be quite the conversationalist by the time he meets his little cousins at Christmas dinner. His vocabulary already includes “Mama,” “Dada,” “good,” “bye-bye,” “cat,” “cookie,” “button,” and “Barbara” (his babysitter’s name). Of course the rest of it is gibberish, bearing a striking resemblance to the instructions that come with “some assembly required” toys.
Sometimes babies grasp just enough of Christmas traditions to be confused. Especially breastfed babies. (“Okay, which one dispenses eggnog, and which one dispenses boiled custard?”)
We still aren’t letting Gideon watch TV, so he has yet to make the acquaintance of Rudolph, The Grinch, or Frosty. But he’s being exposed to a wide range of Christmas carols. Right now the most appropriate one for him seems to be “All I Want For Christmas Is My Tube of Teething Gel.”
We hope to add to Gideon’s book collection this Christmas. And not necessarily just with books written specifically for children. There are also adult books adapted for youngsters, such as Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Spit Up On In Heaven.”
Some of my childless friends wonder why we’re so excited about this Christmas, why we’re going to so much trouble over an event Gideon won’t even remember. (Of course some of them have taken expensive Vegas vacations with nothing to show for it except a mysterious wedding ring and a hangover.)
Well, someday Gideon will be able to watch the videotapes of his first Christmas -- and the 8 millimeter films of his Mommy’s early Christmases. And if he visits the Smithsonian, he can see the drawings of Daddy fighting off the saber-tooth tigers to open his packages.
Maybe Gideon can even visit the Secretary of Huggies Security for a rousing rendition of “I Saw Mommy Resuscitating Dick Cheney.”
How desperate is Danny Tyree for a punchline? Sooooo desperate!
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.(Editor