71: Seek and Ye Shall Find

71: Seek and Ye Shall Find

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Home is where you are loved the most and act the worst.

~Marjorie Pay Hinckley

My family did it, still does it, and will probably always do it. It’s a little pre-Christmas tradition that has gone on for years. It’s the thrill of the hunt, the victory of the find... peeking before Christmas! There, I said it. My family has complete and utter ignorance for the “Do Not Open Until Christmas” tags on gifts.

One Christmas, my dad bought my mom a wooden rocking chair. She had hounded him all year for one. A solid oak chair with a cushion seat for the corner of the living room. He found exactly the one she described, wrapped it ever so carefully and tucked the wrapped box under the tree in the back. One day, as he was putting other gifts under the tree, he noticed a small tear in the front of the box. The hole appeared to be about the size of a finger poke. The next day he noticed the hole was a little longer, and the day after that it was even longer! My dad knew not to ask if my mom was snooping, though. She’d never admit it. But when it comes to my mother, really, why bother wrapping? She must have figured out what it was at some point, because the hole mysteriously didn’t get any bigger.

I can’t help it either; I suppose the temptation is too great. But I can just smile and say, “Well, Mom does it!” if I ever get caught.

One day, I was at my uncle’s house when he had just returned from holiday shopping. He walked briskly past me, on a mission to hide gifts in his bedroom before anyone saw. He came out quickly, shutting the door behind him, and headed to the kitchen.

What was in there? I had to know. I approached the bedroom door, opened it slowly, and peeked in. On the bed were brand new winter coats for everyone! Oh, what to do, what to do? I had to tell someone. Someone who would understand the pleasure of my discovery and savor this experience... my mother!

I snuck into the living room and told her what I saw. She scolded me at first for peeking in his bedroom. “You’re not supposed to be looking in there!” she said, and couldn’t help adding, “But tell me what you saw.”

My brothers crossed the line one year. Mark was twelve and Jim was eleven. They wanted a new Nintendo for Christmas in the worst way. One day, while my parents were out, their curiosity got the best of them. They began searching the house, top to bottom, like a couple of wild animals on the hunt. Mark scoured the attic, and Jim rummaged through closets. Finally, they found it! A brand new Nintendo system sitting on the top shelf in my mother’s bedroom closet. They didn’t stop there. They yanked the Nintendo off the shelf and stared wildly at the box, in awe that they were really getting a Nintendo for Christmas! During their triumph, Jim looked over and noticed a camera on my dad’s nightstand. He turned on the camera, pointed it at Mark, and said, “Hey Mark, hold up the box, say cheese!” Mark grinned widely, evidence in hand, as Jim snapped the scandalous picture. Then Jim returned the camera to the nightstand. They placed the Nintendo back in the closet and ran outside to play.

It was a week before Christmas, and my brothers and I came home from school to find my parents sitting at the kitchen table with an envelope of newly developed photos. Mark and Jim went pale. Both started to giggle nervously and couldn’t stop. They suddenly remembered their adventure from the prior week. They realized they had been caught. My dad had a serious look on his face as he pulled the pictures out of the envelope. The picture on the top of the stack was the incriminating photo showing Mark holding the Nintendo system, sporting a smile full of braces. So nailed!

My dad let out a loud sigh and started to say, “So I picked up some pictures today...” but he started laughing so hard, he couldn’t finish the sentence. Finally, catching his breath and clearing his throat, he said, “What were you two thinking? Were you hoping I wasn’t going to develop these until after Christmas?” and laughed some more.

My brothers had no answer, except for shrugging their shoulders and mumbling. Mark and Jim were fortunate enough to still receive the Nintendo for Christmas; my family understands the curse of temptation. They were grounded, however, for going through Mom’s closet.

When my dad finished laying out their punishment, he turned to all of us and said, nonchalantly, “Oh by the way, thanks for the drill, it’s just what I wanted. I promise to act surprised when I open it on Christmas.” Then he casually walked out of the room, laughing the whole way.

~Michele Christian-Oldham

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