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The Christmas Nerd

By Steven Pate in Miscellaneous on Dec 25, 2010 7:45PM

2010_12_xmasnerd.jpg Christmas mornings have always seemed to last three times as long as typical mornings. As a child this was probably the byproduct of unwinding all that anticipation, built up over the preceding days until by bedtime on Christmas Eve I would be as wired up as our Douglas Fir.

The holiday morning retained this feeling of extension long after the occasion stopped being about the gifts and Santa's evaluation of my behavior, a fact I now attribute simply to spending so much time together as a family. My parents always worked extremely hard, and they were always so busy making sure that everything about their children's days and their family's future was provided for that the long, luxurious Christmas hours spent hours together in robes and pajamas were unique to December 25th.

"The Christmas Nerd" is a product of this joyful idleness. A designation bestowed upon the least-flattering photograph among the dozens of candids my mom would take over the course of the morning, the tradition predates my recollection. Every year's photo album has at least one. One year there's Dad in his ancient blue robe: unshaven, needing caffeine, and unaware that the camera was capturing that particularly weird expression. Another is a twofer of my sister mid-blink alongside my grandmother, who wears the expression of an indignant celebrity startled by a yuletide paparazzo. Nobody is safe, and everyone eventually notches an official Christmas Nerd title.

Nothing makes me smile quite like a tour through The Christmas Nerd collection. I am transported by their guilelessness to those carefree, stretched-out mornings. Each photo reminds me of how fortunate I have always been and seems emblematic of lessons I have derived from those days with my family: to take joy in giving and laughing (especially at oneself), to hold dear those with whom we can be perfectly at ease and to savor the time we have with them.