The Christmas Clipboard

A reminder: This is Day Three of The Seven Days of Pricklesmas Contest. Details here!

I admit it — I’m a compulsive list-maker and note-taker. But some people in my family have organizational impulses on a whole other level.

As I’ve mentioned, Santa was in the habit of delivering unwrapped gifts to our house for a while, until my curiosity (and greed) got the better of me. Once wrapped gifts began to appear on Christmas morning, my mother devised a special unwrapping system. She’d write a tiny number on each of the gifts, and then she’d tabulate a list of those numbers and the corresponding contents. She’d wield this list on a clipboard on Christmas morning, when the unwrapping system went something like this:

Me (reaching for gift): Can I open this one?

Mom: What number is it?

Me (checking): Um…5?

Mom: (consulting her clipboard)

Mom: (consulting her clipboard)

Mom: No. Not yet.

Me (reaching for another gift): How about this one…it’s 12.

Mom: (consulting her clipboard)

Mom: (consulting her clipboard)

Mom: Okay.

This back-and-forth would go on all morning, as my mother (and her clipboard) carefully monitored our present-opening. Clearly, she had a certain rhythm in her head of how she wanted Santa’s bounty to be revealed, and it was about more than just leaving the bigger gifts until the end. By controlling the unwrapping order, and creating a juxtaposition of “big gifts” versus “little gifts,” she was lending a dramatic arc to the proceedings. While one might very well perceive the clipboard as anal-retentive madness, at the same time, there was an artistry to it that I have to admire. It was a true presentation. And it’s that kind of perfect rhythm, that juxtaposition of major and minor reveals, that I strive to emulate in my storytelling now.

I guess you could say my mother gave me her biggest gift without even knowing it.

Holiday gift tag from Zazzle.

5 thoughts on “The Christmas Clipboard

  1. Wow, that would have driven me crazy. Of course now for my nieces and nephews I do tend to hide the “better” gifts further back under my mother’s tree so they get opened last and build the suspense.

    Is this list making and note taking a product of our Stratford school system because I have tons of lists and notebooks all over my desk, one for each project I manage and one general one. I am always taking lots of notes in every meeting and making new lists.

    • Mike, I wonder if it’s a by-product of going through elementary school when we did. Many of the teachers back then were old school (literally) and focused on rote memorization, order, uniformity, and unquestioning compliance. Which is likely why I was such a problem child. : )

  2. Pingback: Yankee Swap « Kara LaReau

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