Philip had taken 291 pictures by the time we got home. He had only had the camera for an hour. It was one of his Christmas presents, the only one that he didn’t try to throw away.
For the record, Philip wasn’t trying to make some kind of statement on the quality of his gifts or the commercialism of Christmas every time he dumped an unopened gift into the black trash bag. No, he was simply trying to be efficient.
After Philip unwrapped his first present at my parents’ house on Christmas Day, I instructed him to pick up and throw away the scraps of wrapping paper on the floor. He did so without complaint, making sure to pick up every piece.
When Philip received his next gift, he unwrapped it, and then took both the paper and the present to the trash bag. “No!” I exclaimed, trying to stop his hand. “We only put the paper in the bag,” I explained.
My explanation was either unheard, misunderstood or ignored. Instead, Philip reasoned that this whole process could be streamlined. When he was given his next gift, he didn’t bother to unwrap. He took the whole package directly to the trash bag.
The camera, however, was a different story. I had caught on to Philip’s pattern by this point, so I held onto the box while Philip unwrapped it. Once I read the label on the brown box, I tightened my grip so that Philip couldn’t dump it as part of his tidiness campaign.
Once Philip saw the camera, he didn’t let it out of his sight. He followed Grandpa as he went to get batteries, and then supervised their installation. As soon as the camera was powered up, he began snapping photos. I could tell he liked the cause-effect relationship of pushing the button, hearing the “snap” of the photo, and then seeing an image pop up on the screen. In fact, he liked it so much, he had over three hundred photos by the time I was able to get the camera out of his hands. I put it away so that I could finally download the camera. And give it a break.
Today, when we gave Philip the camera back, he inspired one of those, “Where did he learn that?” moments. Peter asked if he could see the camera. Quite unwillingly, Philip gave it up, but immediately began saying “cheese” when Peter aimed the lens his way. I’m guessing they say this at preschool, because I’ve never prompted him to do this.
And that’s the story of our trashy, cheesy Christmas.