As much as I have talked about how I have to move beyond the secular side of Christmas this Advent season, I must admit that I think the best part about Christmas are the presents under the tree.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t necessarily think I need any gifts at all. I am truly blessed, and have waaaaay to much stuff as it is. But I love those presents under the tree. I always have. They are so full of mystery. That gift could be anything at all. It’s a wondrous feeling, especially if you’re a kid.
For his part, Bill can barely keep a gift a secret. He loves to give gifts to people, but the whole waiting and anticipating part of it, well, not so much. Of course, we are both so independent and difficult to buy for since we usually buy ourselves what we want or need. I literally have to tell him with firmness to stop buying himself things as Christmas nears so that there is something to give him as a present. As the years go by, we generally simply tell each other what to buy, and often are present when it is being purchased. I, for example was with him Sunday when he bought my present. In fact, I picked it out. He will wrap it, and I will act surprised when I open it, though we both know I won’t be.
I have mostly been good about not peeking at my presents. I remember, however, one year when I was probably 10 or 11 years old. I wanted a watch. I kept my eye on the gifts as they grew in number under the tree. Finally, one day there was a gift for me that might have been that watch. I would pick it up and shake it and then put it back under the tree. A bit later I would pick it up and hold it to the light to see if I could possibly see what it was under the wrapping. I wanted that watch so, so much.
Finally, I could stand it no longer. At some point when I was alone in the living room, I carefully pried open one side of the wrapping paper. Sure enough, I could see the ripple of the plastic Timex watch box. I took great care to tape the side back up. But here’s the thing. While I was so happy to know that I was getting the watch I wanted so much, the surprise had been ruined, and that made me sad. I never did it again.
Some people are really good at guessing gifts. Jen, for example, is somewhat psychic. I remember one year when Bill and I were first dating and he bought me a Christmas gift. It was a small box, all wrapped up. Jen took one look at it and told me it was a gift card to take a hot air balloon ride. Having never had any desire to take a hot air balloon ride, I didn’t take her very seriously.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it was indeed a gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride. To this day she swears he hadn’t told her. Now that I have been married to him for 22 years and know how incapable he is of keeping gifts a secret, I’m pretty sure he told her. She will deny it, of course, as will he.
My grandson Alastair is another one who is very good at guessing presents. With a single shake, he will tell me, “this is such and such,” and he’s most often correct. Of course, he is aided by the fact that I get them some of the same things each year – a pair of pajamas, a Christmas ornament, etc. And let’s face it, you don’t have to be psychic to identify a box of Legos.
But the funniest story I have about Christmas presents took place a couple of years ago when Kaiya and Mylee were 4 and 2, respectively. Their mom and dad had placed the wrapped presents under the tree. A couple of days before Christmas, the two kids could wait no longer. When their parents came downstairs that morning, all of the gifts had been opened and the kids were happily playing with the toys. Here is the picture taken after they were scolded and put in time out. Talk about looking guilty….