Hayden and Sandra Collins

We went all out for Christmas that year.  The Men’s club from the church and other groups, friends from work, and many other people gave something to the boys’ Christmas.  We ended up with so many gifts that we had trouble storing them.  One truck came to the house, and when the man got out, said he was here for a delivery.  I asked which box was mine, and he said all of them.  I just about cried; the truck was full of boxes.  Thank you was a phrase that was said often and with meaning.

As the day approached, we had to get creative with our storage of gifts – neighbors houses, garage, attic, and work office.  Finally, Christmas Eve came, and “some assembly required” and I became friends.  At about three in the morning, I finished the last of the work.  My loving wife had fixed my last pot of coffee and lain down more than an hour before.  I woke her up and said “it’s done.”  We were both very excited and wanted to stir things up a bit.  So, I went to the wall, pounded on it really hard, and said “Ho Ho Ho,” trying to wake up the boys.

It worked, and Blane, the middle boy, got up first.  He stayed in the room and woke up Zack who was in the bed across from him.  Both boys peeked into the living room to see mounds of toys.  I do mean mounds.  We had to separate the toys by piles for each boy.

An oversight on our part then became apparent.  The house rule is that no one gets out of bed before Dad gets out of bed.  The boys are all hyper and liked to get about six hours of sleep before they get up and play.  It took us a long time to break that habit.  Well, with this in mind, they knew that if they got out of bed, they would be in big trouble.  So they woke up Cody, the youngest, who was asleep in a crib.  When Cody got up, he stumbled into the room and saw the toys but either did not understand or was still asleep, because his comment was “leave me alone.”  You could just feel our frustration.  Something had to be done.

I yelled, “who is out of bed this early in the morning?”  Zack answered, “we are Sir and someone left toys in the living room.”  My response was, “WHAT?  Someone left toys in the living room?” in a very loud command voice.  Blane’s response was, “it wasn’t us SIR,” and the boys ran back to bed.

Oh God, I was going nuts, so I walked into the living room and called all of them in with us.  As I looked around the room to see three very happy faces, I found a letter from Santa.  It read, “you all have been very good this year.  Have fun, Santa.” Hours of wrapping paper and toys went by, and we were cleaning up for lunch when Blane came over to me and asked if they got to keep the toys.  I almost broke down but managed to hold my face and answer a resounding “Yes!  They are yours to keep.”  They had never gotten to keep any other toys in care.  That question made all the money spent worth it.  It was a great Christmas.

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