This Monday was tax day, one of my least favorite times of the year. My parents sit at the kitchen table with documents strewn about, and they argue with each other and the computer while Daddy furiously bangs on the keys, until the taxes are finished. Hopefully, they are satisfied with the outcome, and there are a few more dollars in the treat jar this year.
Besides the tension, I don’t like tax day because my parents sit on hard kitchen chairs, and there is no place for us to sit. For the first five minutes, we pester our parents trying to either convince them to stop and return to their comfortable recliners or make room for us. Pestering is very tiring, so eventually, we sadly retreat to the living room and sit in the chair solo.
Pocket curled up and went to sleep, but I am more curious. I listened to my parents talked about when their dads’ did their taxes. While the failure for documents to load, and pages that couldn’t be closed because a mystery question needed to be answered, brought tension to my parents’ efforts. Apparently it was nothing like what their dads went through trying to do the same without the help of things that needed to be plugged in, sans a lamp.
Mommy’s Dad would sit at the kitchen table just like she did now. He was surrounded by paperwork. He had compiled a million receipts during the year, all crammed into a cigar box, which, in the ’50s, was where people kept their most precious possessions. Mommy and her brother knew to stay out of the kitchen when their Dad was hard at work inventing new cuss words and groundbreaking tax law. After hours of waiting, a white cloud would emerge from the kitchen window signaling that it was safe to go inside and get a cookie.
Daddy’s father sat in his office with a similar cigar box at his side, smoking a pipe, and praying, if it is to be assumed that taxes were the cause of his cries of “Jesus!” and “Oh, Christ,” bellowing from the study. He was a very religious man at tax time. He had the minimum taken out of his weekly check because he wanted his money to earn interest for him and not the government. He waited until the Master’s weekend, which always came just before the 15th of April, to do his taxes, holding onto his money as long as he could. Daddy would sit in the living room, hoping his Dad would finish and watch the tournament with him, but the money Grampy owed rose every time a putt filled the hole until both Grampy’s bank account and the winner’s total were far under par.
During their time, a woman helping them do taxes was a laugh. Women didn’t know anything about taxes! It’s too complicated. In all probability, their spouse’s help would have cut their preparation time in half if they made room for their wives at the table Most daddies have learned to accept their wives much needed help or not argue when the ladies join them at the table.
Filing taxes had changed a lot since then. There are no cigar boxes, no multiple receipts, no pencils, calculators, or calculation sheets. But there is still swearing, mostly due to uncooperative computers. The swearing is mitigated by moms, now allowed at the table, who let the man rant for a bit, before calming them and figuring out their error.
Instead of taking two days, the process took two hours, thanks to computers and mommies at the table. And, there is extra money in the treat jar for this year.
Most importantly, I didn’t go lapless for a whole weekend. Thank heavens for moms, computers, and extra money in the treat jar. I didn’t like tax day, but it could have been worse.