Christmas is a special day for many of us. Before we were reduced to one post per year because (insert your favorite excuse here), we wrote about Christmas activities such as lights and The Polar Express, and of course the tree itself.
While the whole day and even the day before are meaningful, magic happens for children and parents alike on Christmas morning. The anticipation has built for days and weeks and it is time to find out if Santa came to our house.
In the Sherard house as in yours, the children get up earlier than normal as the excitement reaches a fever pitch. There is only one rule - nobody goes downstairs until both Mom and Dad are awake. This allows Mom to be ready to see the joy that all of her hard work has created and Dad - well, Dad takes out his phone and after checking to see how his fantasy football team did last night (I’m leading in the semifinals of the playoffs with a 54% chance to win!!!) the video camera gets ready for action - poised to capture the Race to the Tree.
Let’s break it down.
Here is the frame by frame analysis of the 2023 Race to the Tree. Still image first, description under it. The full video is at the end of the post.
Ann Fisher and Goodman have both taken up their positions, one stair from the top. Nineteen steps and a right turn between each of them and a clear shot to the den.
They sit side by side, waiting patiently (they are listening!!!) with backsides planted on the wood. They enjoy the confidence of knowing they have been good this year and reward awaits.
That being said, this is serious business.
Goodman is in the away whites, while Ann Fisher represents the home colors; both seek to curry favor with their Christmas-themed pajamas.
At the post:
Ann Fisher - age 8, crafty and experienced, -170 money line
Goodman - age 6, wily and fearless, +150 money line
Ann Fisher has turned back to Dad to look for the green light, all smiles, hoping sight over sound will give her an edge out of the blocks. Quite uncharacteristically for the older sibling she has one leg out of position and if not quickly corrected that will surely result in a poor start. This thing could be over before it starts.
Goodman looks straight ahead, focused on getting down the stairs and wondering how many army-related toys he will get from St. Nick.
Pay dirt awaits.
Ann Fisher has corrected her earlier error and her body is now streamlined with eyes down range and hands cocked and ready to rocket her forward.
Goodman has slipped his power hand around a baluster, leaned forward, and every so slightly lifted his bottom off the step.
Books have been written about bird dogs with less poise than these two.
These are children that are ready to attack.
And they're off! Well . . . she's off.
Slightly jumping the verbal command (“do y’all think Santa came?”), Ann Fisher is up and moving first.
Stunned at his sister’s willingness to get a head start, Goodman has turned to look at her rather than moving forward. This is a little boy that has more to learn about being a younger sibling.
0:05 (frame 1)
Ann Fisher is on Step Three (only 17 more to go!).
Goodman has not moved from Step One. Video review from headquarters notes he still has a grip on the spindle below the bannister, which could be important later.
Will this be a blowout the likes has not been seen since Brandt trying to catch up to me on videos about The Trophy?
0:05 (frame 2)
Ann Fisher is almost to Step Four, opening up a commanding lead.
Goodman finally has it in gear but he is clearly in a tight spot, barely lifted off Step One.
0:05 (frame 3)
In the first controversial frame, Goodman cannot be seen. Not great camera work by Dad, though in his defense he had a long day delivering presents and drinking bourbon on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning came early and the kids were moving fast.
Ann Fisher has landed Step Four and is heading to Five.
It is a question for the ages as to what Goodman might have been doing in this frame.
0:06 (frame 1)
Ann Fisher has reached Step Five and is heading to Six.
Goodman is at least a full step behind and decides to use his left arm to help him catch up. You can clearly see it begin to swing into action in this frame. We have reached the part of the race where Goodman realizes he is losing and needs to do something, indisputable video evidence be damned.
0:06 (frame 2)
Ann Fisher is being impeded by Goodman’s left arm. Usually the back judge would flag this as a spot foul and require a re-set, but this is the championship round of sibling competition and it would be a shame to decide it on a small infraction. And, she is bigger. Dad keeps the flag in his pants - he will let this play out.
0:06 (frame 3)
In a veteran move by a big sis, Ann Fisher extends her right arm to the bannister. She has effectively countered Goodman’s arm strategy. More importantly, with her left hand on the wall, she now controls the entire staircase and can keep everything behind her. This is what success looks like.
Plus, Ann Fisher has paired bare feet with polished oak, the equivalent of fresh tires providing excellent grip on a racetrack. Goodman chose sock feat - an understandable decision for Christmas Eve sleep but a real risk to traction on the wood floors.
Suffice it to say, Goodman is in real trouble.
In-game analytics have Ann Fisher with a race-high 79% chance of winning the Race to the Tree. Vegas closes the betting window.
Several seconds in and Goodman is a full step behind. Ann Fisher has him fully blocked and is operating from the centerline of the stairs. But it is not over until it’s over, as Goodman is catching up.
What the sock feet lack in traction they make up for in lack of friction. Less friction, more speed.
As they break out of the dimly lit upstairs and into the full light of the downstairs, Goodman creates his own luck by putting his left hand on Ann Fisher’s shoulder - along with his entire body weight. He pulls her right hand free from the bannister! But she is already on Step Thirteen with only seven to go. Goodman still must make up ground, and quickly, but he had to have this.
0:10 (frame 1)
With reckless abandon, Goodman has finally caught up to the same step with only four to go, though he is still slightly behind. Importantly, he has forced Ann Fisher to the wall side - the second break he needed.
Ann Fisher still working the extended arm as a blocking maneuver and Goodman still pulling down on her shoulder in a race to presents . . . just as Jesus taught.
0:10 (frame 2)
Hairpin corner in sight and they are nose to nose, with maximum hand-fighting engaged. But what is Goodman doing? Why is he leaning away from the turn?
0:10 (frame 3)
In what will be spoken of only in hushed tones, if at all, around these parts for many years, Goodman unleashes a brilliant one-two: push Ann Fisher towards the wall while at the same time throwing himself towards the outside of the turn while taking strong hold of the bannister - he is going for the swing-around!
0:11 (frame 1)
They have both skipped the final step but Goodman is using his deep knowledge of little boy risk-taking to whip himself around the post. Like an F1 driver diving down into the corner, he has cut off his competition and clearly pulled ahead.
0:11 (frame 2)
All four kid feet off the ground. Just what Dad and Mom were hoping for - a Christmas morning trip to the emergency room!
Goodman is landing while Ann Fisher is launching. Her chance of winning has dropped considerably and her only chance is to catch him in a drag race down the backstretch, I mean, foyer.
0:11 (frame 3)
Just like that, Goodman is now out to a huge lead.
Without the bannister to swing on, Ann Fisher has lost momentum in her turn while Goodman sped up. Physics!
0:11 (frame 4)
Goodman is completely out of the frame, and the rout is on.. This is a boy that is ready to see some G.I. Joe action figures.
Ann Fisher is now at least five steps behind but happy and smiling.
Dad has lost sight of both children, with only a slightly askew rug indicating their previous presence just seconds ago.
I wonder if they have found my surprise.
Dad’s revenge! The den doors are bolted closed! I have made them wait for us to catch up!
Err, maybe not. But we are back to siblings on equal footing . . . at least until presents are counted.