Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Brat

When does your family open Christmas presents? On Christmas day or Christmas Eve?

When I was still living at home, our tradition was to open them on Christmas morning. But, we could open one on Christmas Eve.

As soon as presents started appearing under the aluminum Christmas tree, I would eye them to determine just the right candidate for opening on the 24th. I'd pick them up and try to see through the wrapping paper - curses, foiled again! Yes, the foil was impossible to see through. And the ribbons were put on so tight I couldn't possibly open the ends of the wrapping to peak at the side of the box. I'd shake them, hold them under a strong light to enable x-ray vision, and subject them to whatever other method of analysis I could in order to get a clue as to what treasure was inside the package.

Almost all the time my efforts were fruitless.

On this particular Christmas Eve I decided to go for size. I chose the largest box and declared that this was the one I wanted to open.

My parents tried to talk me out of it. My mom handed me a much smaller package and suggested it would be more suitable. Ah, I must really be on to something, I thought. They want me to save the big box for Christmas so there must be something really, really swell inside.

"No, I want to open the big box."

"I don't think you're going to like that as much as this one," my mom replied, offering the smaller box to me. "You really should open this one."

The more she insisted the more confident I was that I had chosen the mother lode. It's like when you've discovered where the hidden treasure is buried and the keeper of the treasure is trying to misdirect you to keep it safe. But I wasn't falling for that.

We went back and forth until finally my mom gave up. "Okay, it's your choice, do what you want."

Without a second thought, I gleefully began to open the package. As the box cover was revealed, the gloating smile turned to a frown. No, it wasn't clothes, something I dreaded getting as a Christmas present. It was a racing car. One that you had to use outdoors. It was Christmas Eve. It was too dark and too cold outside to use it.

"I told you," said my mom. My dad and sister just smiled at me and told me I should have listened.

This couldn't be. How could I have picked something like this? Why didn't I listen? I thought my mom was trying to trick me! Argh!!! "I wanna take it back!" I pleaded.

"No, just one present. You already opened it."

"It's not fair! I can't use this!"

"You're the one who chose it. I tried to warn you but you didn't listen."

"Well I wanna change my mind now! Please? Please??" I sounded like one of the big three auto makers.

All I could think about was why didn't I listen to what mom said? I blew it.

The next day on Christmas morn, I discovered what was in that little box. A book about insects that I had wanted.

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