The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 27, 2013

Memories can be messy

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — When I swung open the door Christmas Eve to a home covered in sugar, dough and cookie cutters, I can safely say the holiday spirit wasn’t flowing at an all-time high through my body.

Instead, I was wondering why I had just spent time at work, while the other inhabitants of my home were making a major mess.

“What happened?” I asked to anyone in the room willing to listen.

My daughter, wife and 6-month-old son looked at each other perplexed by the question. They didn’t understand why someone would question such a mess the day before Christmas.

“Sometimes making memories are messy,” my wife replied.

There’s not much I can say to that, especially considering her answer received the nodding approval from my daughter, and although my son doesn’t have the ability to do much yet, he does have a knack for messes, so I knew he would go along with his mother this one time.

And as I reflected on that passing comment, it made perfect sense this time of year.

Too often we forget that memories are being made every day, especially during the holiday season. Baking sugar cookies on Christmas Eve may have been a spur-of-the-moment decision, but who knows, that may be something that sticks with our daughter long after the sugary contents of the cookies digest.

I doubt my parents thought when they placed our original Nintendo in 1990 under our tree in Flinstones wrapping paper, that all three of their children would remember not only the wrapping paper, but all the times we fought over the controllers to play the now “antique” gaming system.

So when 7 a.m. struck Wednesday and my daughter rushed downstairs to see that Santa and his reindeer gobbled up the goodies on the kitchen table and left several presents under our tree, I remembered to slow down a bit and let the messes — and memories — pile up.

When all the damage had ceased, I was on the ground attempting to keep my son from falling out of the door of his “car,” while also saving enough time to cruise around with Barbie in her new vehicle and help organize my daughter’s dress station. As we all know, the tiaras, bracelets and scarves need drawers, but where do the fairy wings go?

Those questions, along with the confusing family tree of Barbie, were on display. What’s great (and many times confusing) about playing with a 3-year-old is that sometimes the stories of the characters (Barbie in this instance) don’t make any sense.

Santa sort of screwed up when he got my daughter a Barbie car, because Santa didn’t realize the Barbie on the box actually came with the car. So Santa, in his infinite wisdom, bought another Barbie, thus giving my daughter two Barbies on Christmas.

Since my daughter only has two hands, she can control only one Barbie and one car, allowing me the opportunity to play the other Barbie. During our travels in the car, my Barbie was the mom, sister, child and friend of the other Barbie. That’s difficult to comprehend how that’s possible, making the other developments, like how the car can fly and can drive up mountains, a lot less extraordinary.

I didn’t mind the twisted storyline because we were able to spend time together. My wife and I didn’t have to go into work, and while my son is still too young to grasp what’s going on, my daughter is at the perfect age of understanding the magic of the season.

And although Christmas happens every year, our attitudes change over time. The holiday plays a much different role for me nowadays than it did when my two brothers and I opened that Nintendo 23 years ago. While being a child at Christmas is great, I can’t imagine it being any better than the role I’m currently in during the holiday season.

That role will change over the years, giving way to my children being older, and Christmas morning will likely lose a little of its magic.

For the next several Christmases, though, the day will only get better. And if you’re ever in the neighborhood during that time, don’t mind the mess, we’re busy making more memories.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at