My heart is pounding so loudly in my ears, it feels like “the little drummer-boy” is about to give me away. Mom’s holed up in her room – Christmas headquarters this time of year – wrapping some gifts. No one else is around… unless you count Dusty. She’s eyeing me from her comfy spot on the wing chair, tail tucked beneath her, but I know she can’t tell anyone. Even so, she’s making me nervous, watching me in that eerie “know all” way her chocolaty eyes seem to have at times. If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to be quick and do it now. Any minute, I could be caught.
I hear my friends again in my mind. “I know I’m getting what I want this Christmas,” Diane is boasting.
“How?” Terry wonders.
“I just shake a few packages until I can tell,” she confides.
“Once…” Terry whispers, “I tried to open a small one and wrap it up again.”
“You whaaat?” I start.
“Shhh!!” Terry says, looking around. Her face gets kind of red. “We-ell, I just had to know!”
I’m astonished. Actually, I’ve always loved the surprise of Christmas. Oh, I’ve looked and tried to guess before…but never snooped to that extreme. Never really wanted to.
“Do you know if you are getting the Barbie outfit you want, Pam?” Diane asks.
“I- I haven’t really been alone to check out the few wrapped packages,” I hedge. But they have me wondering now. I really, really want that doll outfit. I am almost sure it will be under the tree Christmas morning. By school end, I just have to know for certain and make a plan to just feel around under the tree while no one is looking. I bet I can tell by the shape of the box…easily. It’s kind of like a picture frame and folds in…
Stealthily now I move some packages around, looking for one with my name on the tag. This one looks like it could be it. It’s the right shape. Maybe I could just prick a pinhole to see. A door bangs down the hall and my finger slips, ripping a hole about the size of a penny. Oh, no! My stomach crashes as I hurriedly shove the package deeper under the tree, push another larger one across it. My head feels like it is going to explode with the fear of being caught, and I’m sick at heart. I can’t believe I’ve done this!
All through Christmas Eve dinner, through my favorite holiday programs, I’m feeling cold and clammy. How had I thought scoping the present out might be fun? Sort of like Nancy Drew, solving a mystery? Now Christmas seems ruined. What if mom moves the packages, sees the hole? What will she think about me? I know she’d be hurt. She loves surprises as much as I do.
I toss and turn through the night. Finally, wearing myself out with guilt, I fall asleep with the thought that I can just open that package first thing in the morning…before anyone sees the hole. I DO, and I seem to get away with it. But suddenly, I feel like the boy who told so many lies that no one would believe him in a crisis. The present I’d longed for has lost its luster a bit because all day long I have this jumbled feeling inside. Never again, I vow. Christmas is a time for surprises… And… as I finally relax in the light of our tree that night, I think… I like it that way.
What merry mischief do you remember? And… was it worth it? 🙂
© Pam Depoyan