The Day I Ruined Christmas

Guest Post by Ginger
We all have special memories of Christmas past; some good, some not so good.  Sitting around the kitchen table at the Museum last week, this topic came up as it is nearing Christmas.  I will share one of my not so good memories… the day I ruined Christmas for my brother John and myself.

I was probably about twelve and John, being five years younger, was probably about seven.  I remember this pre-Christmas day vividly because it was my brilliant idea to discover where our mother was hiding our presents. John, of course, went along and thought this was the best idea he had ever heard; and we both just couldn’t wait for the big day to know what we were getting.

Our chance came one day when mother announced she had errands to run and we two were to stay inside and entertain ourselves while she was out.  We, looked at each other, and said “no problem”.  As soon as mother was out of sight we started searching the house for the presents we were sure were  hidden somewhere.  We looked in the kitchen cabinets, got the step ladder and looked in the upper cabinets; behind all the furniture and even tackled the basement.  This was no small job because our basement was stuffed with all kinds of things, including cardboard boxes that mother saved “just in case she might need one to mail something”. No luck anywhere downstairs we could think of.  So upstairs we went, looked under all the beds; in all the bathroom cabinets; opened every single drawer in each bedroom – no luck.  Then we tried the closets, which were also stuffed full of clothing and loads and piles of other things.  We even dumped out the dirty clothes bin, but no luck.

Lastly we tried our mother’s closet, but there were a couple of high shelves we could not reach, so downstairs I went and came up with the stepladder which I wedged inside the closet.  All this while my brother was keeping a look out the front upstairs windows in case our mother was returning.  I climbed up and shouted ” Hooray!” – pushed way to the back were wrapped presents which I handed down to John. We began to carefully remove the bows and ribbons and scotch tape to take a peek inside.  We knew we should not be doing this, but it was sooooo  exciting!

Eventually John and I opened each and every package with our names on, looked at the gift, and then carefully rewrapped, re-bowed and returned the boxes exactly where they had been hidden.  Smug is how we felt!  Mother never knew.

Christmas Day arrived and we saw all those familiar boxes under the Christmas tree, ready to unwrap.  John and I just looked at each other with guilt as the unwrapping began.  That Christmasmorning I was feeling a strange sadness, knowing exactly what was in each gaily wrapped package with my name on….but I didn’t let on.  The JOY of discovering what was inside our presents just wasn’t there that year.

I ruined our Christmas that year by being sneaky.

Never, ever, again have I been tempted to look inside a wrapped present before the proper time.  I do not even shake a gift to try to figure out what is inside the wrapping, because I want to be surprised and joyful.

Have you ever “taken a peek” at your Christmas presents?