I asked for this toy for weeks on end, hoping that my parents would hear my begging and pleading. One day, when I was in a hallway closet, I happened to glance up to the top shelf and saw, to my utter shock and joy, the box containing the legendary Millennium Falcon in all of its glory. I may as well have found a hidden treasure as my heart pounded.
However, at that moment a realization hit me. I had just accidentally violated a longstanding household rule ... I found a hidden present! I didn’t intend to see the gift, but would they believe that? Would I be held accountable for my transgressions nonetheless? What should I do? Tell my parents about my find or act like I had seen nothing, to ensure that magnificent spacecraft landed under the tree? I am coming clean, Mom — I knew all along. I could have won an Oscar for the dramatic portrayal of a surprised 9-year-old boy on Christmas morning.
Recently, my son apparently found himself in a similar predicament.
“Mommy, what would you do if I saw a present in your closet?” he asked.
Mommy immediately responded, “Were you in my closet looking for a present?”
“Well ... maybe ... maybe not. Would you have to return it to the store?” He answered with fear and trepidation in his voice.
After the realization this road may end with his not getting the gift at all, he tried another route ... trying to “unsee” the revelation.
“Maybe I didn’t see that toy Nerf Gun in the red bag. Maybe I imagined it.”
The fact that the toy in our closet is a Nerf Gun, and is in a red bag, gave away the fact that he did see the toy and there was no “unseeing” that gift ... no matter how hard he tried.
My wife let him off the hook, but explained that he couldn’t open it until Christmas morning.
Only a week later while we were sitting at the dinner table discussing Christmas, our 4-year-old daughter blurted out, “Mommy, Daddy! I am so excited about the gift you got me. I can’t wait to open it!”
Mommy and Daddy looked at one another with blank stares ... who had gotten her a gift?
Mommy finally asked, “Did you look in the bag under the Christmas tree?”
“Oh yes, Mommy, and I am so excited!” Clearly she did not have the fear I experienced as a 9-year-old boy or her older brother had experienced the week before, just pure excitement. Of course, we made the same deal, no opening until Christmas morning.
Yes, as parents we successfully give great gifts. Unfortunately, we fail miserably when hiding those gifts. At least my children have enough of a conscience to come clean ... unlike a 9-year-old boy I once knew.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful wife, a son, two daughters, the family dogs — Tucker and Boomer — and five chickens. Matt is thankful that Santa has better hiding places for his gifts. Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)