I was the obnoxious, frustrating kid who used to get into all the Christmas presents in my parents deep closet to the left of their bed next to their porch doors. I was much younger when I got into all the gifts my Mom carefully wrapped and hid. I don't remember too many of them, except for the robe one year and the wooden instruments another year, and the books and art supplies the following year. Something like that - I guess I remember more than I thought. One Christmas when I was older, though, my Mom got me. She asked me to store this big, wide, nondescript cardboard box in my bedroom. She told me that it was a gift for my uncle. Over the weeks during December my clothes, shoes, books, and general teen clutter amassed on the top of this box. Perhaps it was so overcome with my junk that I forgot about it, but on Christmas morning after all the gifts were opened my Mom told me to get the box from my room. I proceeded to follow her directions and was informed that this was my Christmas gift. My Mom was smiling a smug "I finally fooled you, and am so happy I did" smile as I opened the box. In it were four beautifully framed lithographs of Monet's most popular paintings. My Mom knew of my interest in the famous watercolor artist's paintings and thought I would like them. I did. They have hung in prominent places in every home we've owned. It was probably the best Christmas gift I've ever received and am reminded of my Mom's clever persistence to finally surprise me on Christmas morning.
Interestingly enough, you'd think with six daughters I'd have one that would find and open our Christmas presents. Nope. Amazingly enough, we manage to hide them well enough. We do have one, or two kids, that manage to ransack the other girls' Advent calendar chocolates, however.This is a serious problem. It happened last year and again this year. It was a fleeting moment of forgetfulness coupled with exhaustion and distraction that led to the big no-no: I left the flimsy cardboard calendars with cheesy Christmas scenes on the counter before I went to bed one night. Uh oh. What proceeded the next morning was predictable: my early birds arose and imagine their surreptitious joy when they discovered the calendars, with chocolates in them !, on the counter with no adult or older sister to stop them. So, an hour or so later I get out of bed and stumble into the kitchen to discover the proof of chocolate thievery: little cardboard tabs with various numbers on them, strewn over the kitchen floor amidst the cardboard containers that had been greedily ripped apart. The cardboard carnage was all over the kitchen floor. The guilty ones were watching T.V., buzzed on chocolate, and smiling in a way that said "We've completely forgotten about our chocolate heist and will pretend we know nothing about it - before blaming the other sister." The shrieks of horror and outrage expressed by my older daughters at the unthinkable deed quickly prompted a round of discipline and a good talking-to with the younger girls. When am I going to learn? Perhaps the lesson I need to learn is not to do Advent Calendars - or, fill them with nuts and veggies instead. That'll do it: a healthy Advent Calendar! Yeah, right. Well, at least we don't waste wrapping paper on prematurely opened gifts -yet.