Note: This is a true story my mother (names are changed) told me about her worst Christmas ever. May children learn from it.
All children are dying to know what they’re getting for Christmas. At ten years old, Mary was no exception. She looked under beds. She looked in cabinets. She asked leading questions of her mother and dad, all to no avail.
She already knew about “Santa Claus” and so figured the presents couldn’t be very far. Once, Mary even looked around at a relative’s house, figuring her presents might be stashed there. Nothing worked. She wondered if a spell had been put on her Christmas presents, making them invisible.
Christmas was always a magic time in Mary’s house. Her mother always decorated the house, giving it a warm, cheery Christmas feeling. It always made Mary feel all sparkly inside.
Mary could hardly stand it, not knowing what she was going to get for Christmas. Above all else, she coveted a particular big doll all dressed in frilly clothes. Its eyes even opened and closed. She searched the house every day when her mother was outside in the backyard.
It suddenly dawned on her. Why had she overlooked it? The hall closet was an obvious place to hide presents. Because it was so obvious, she doubted that anything would be in there, but she walked toward the closet anyway. Slowly, she opened the closet door.
It was dark inside the closet, so it was hard to see clearly what was in there. But there was something on the top shelf. Mary flipped on the light switch. She suppressed a squeal. There, in plain sight, was the doll she wanted so very much for Christmas.
Quickly she shut the closet door and ran to her room. Mary shut her bedroom door and jumped up and down with the unadulterated glee of a young girl. She was going to get the doll she wanted! She wanted to shout with excitement but dared not, for fear her mother would ask questions.
Then after five minutes of celebrating her find, it suddenly hit her hard – she knew what she was getting for Christmas. The mystery and anticipation of Christmas morning was gone. She would see the package all wrapped up under the Christmas tree and know what was in it. Now she desperately wished she had not found it. The surprise was ruined, and it was all her fault. The excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve and then waking up on Christmas morning was gone. Gone. Mary sulked, mad at herself.
She was dreading Christmas morning for the first time in her life. On Christmas Eve Mary went to bed sad instead of happy and excited. When Christmas morning came, she dragged herself out of bed. Mary thought to herself that she should at least pretend to be surprised. Otherwise, her parents would figure out she had already found not only her Christmas presents, but also their hiding place for presents.
Opening the presents was pure torture for Mary. She smiled and looked as excited as possible. Then it was time to open the doll gift. She could see her parents looking on, smiling and happy, waiting to see Mary’s reaction.
Mary tore the wrapping paper off the doll box, feigning impatience. In the next few moments Mary considered becoming an actress, because she felt she gave an Oscar-level performance, portraying joy and excitement over the doll. But it was hard to keep it up for very long, so she excused herself and took her doll to her room, ostensibly to play with it.
Mary lay on her bed, clutching her new doll and softly cried. “What was I thinking?” she thought. She now knew that half of the fun of receiving gifts on Christmas is in the anticipation.
She swore then and there that she would never, never go snooping around looking for hidden presents. She would never again ruin a Christmas morning for herself. She would just let Christmas unfold the way it’s supposed to – with the mystery and magic only a child can appreciate.