So frequently, the stories I tell of my childhood (though rarely here, as this seems to be more of a running commentary on the wackiness now, instead of the wackiness then) are filled with the kind of ugliness that I hope I would never visit upon my children. Don't get me wrong, I was blessed in so many ways, but it wasn't always pretty.
So, I'm watching a comercial for Walgreens tonight, and there are two children searching the house for their Christmas gifts. Seeing only Walgreens bags, they go away without finding them.
I remembered suddenly, that I never peeked. I believed my parents when they told us that they would know. That the presents were boobie trapped in such a way that they would see any tampering. That if we peeked, there would be no presents. Since I knew that my parents were older and smarter than I, (I was not yet a teenager) I believed them.
I cannot vouch for my siblings, but I was always surprised and delighted on Christmas morning to find that my parents had provided gifts that I had either asked for, or never knew I wanted. The electric train when I was 10 (I JUST gave that to my nephew. I hope they were able to get it working) that I wanted so badly (my flute teacher made fun of me for wanting it. I never understood why a girl couldn't have an electric train) The new Bike. A skateboard.
It must have been thrilling for my parents when they saw me surprised, to know I still believed they were smarter, and to know that in this one thing, I was obediant. They always made sure that the wrapped gifts were interesting enough to keep us guessing for weeks.
I'm looking forward again this year to the excitement of shaking presents. My mom is the queen of adding nuts, bells, rocks, and cans of soup to throw us off. Some things, as always, are obvious. Books (but which one???) Pillows. The unmistakable slide of clothes in a box.
For me, Christmas isn't about the birth of Christ. It's about spending time with my family and friends. It's about anticipating their delight in gifts I choose carefully. About being tipsy before noon, eating See's candy for breakfast, and taking a nap under the spell of Bing Crosby. My mom's roast beast and my sisters' smiles. Harassing my brother and the cat.
I know that these special feelings were planted carefully and fostered by my parents. With every threat, they were teaching us the joy of anticipation. With every set of flannel pajamas, the delight of a simple gift. And each Christmas, I felt loved and special. There's no greater blessing than that.