Peeking for Presents

Every Christmas when I was a little boy, I was so anxious to tear into the presents that my mother had to come up with some strategy to keep me out of the living room until it was time to open the presents on Christmas morning. I recall one Christmas wanting very badly to have a Fort Apache cavalry and Indian set. I was a great fan of Rin Tin Tin who was a dog attached to a cavalry unit. Mother kept all the Christmas gifts in her closet and one night my anxiety that she had not bought me the coveted gift was too great so I peeked when she was out of the house. There unwrapped in the closet was the treasure I so hungered for, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had ruined Christmas morning. Of course, being a Mormon boy, the guilt spread pretty rapidly throughout me. When I could stand it no longer I confessed my deed to my mother. She told me to go and get the Fort Apache set and play with it. “Aren’t you going to wrap it up for me and put it under the tree?” I asked. “No,” she replied you already have seen it so you might as well have it now.” I can tell you I never peeked in the closet again and I kept my own children out of the “gift closet” by telling them that story each Christmas. They never peeked.

So my mother had to deal with a peeking child. On Christmas Eve I could not sleep, so it was traditional that we open one present. It was usually pajamas, but Mother knowing my need for toys usually added something to play with that night. Often it was a stuffed animal. Even so, sleeping was a challenge. Mother would say to me, “Santa Claus comes this evening. If you peek in the front room where the tree is before he comes,” she said with pretended solemnity, “HE WON’T COME AT ALL!” That was enough to put the fear of God in me and keep me in bed for most of the night. She would then add, “If you hear anything during the night in the front room like the jingling of bells or the rustling of wrapping paper and you peek in the front room and see Santa Claus—POOF! Everything will disappear—the presents, the tree, the stockings, everything!”

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