Ah, the ruined Christmas gift. No better way to sabotage your own built-up magic spirit of the holidays than tampering with the biggest most wanted item on your list. I was about six or seven when I began to get to the bottom of this Santa break-and-enter gimmick. As each year went on, the more cognizant I became of the sneaking around my mother, grandmother, and aunt were doing during the weeks leading up. My senses became Santa sharp. I remember starting to spot cover-up Christmas things my family was doing to paint the most perfect backdrop to a wonderful holiday to come. Welcomed, only I was on to them. I became keener on hearing Christmas code conversations that filled the cookie-baking nights of my grandmother’s kitchen. I knew, but the cookies were too delicious. And, one day, which turned out to be the beginning of the end of my belief in a man called Santa, was when I found peace a la resistance. I found the Holy Grail of childhood Christmas holiday wonder. I found the notorious and infamous gift hiding place. Yup, with all those skills I had acquired, and with all the determination of a kid destined to ruin the only magical wonder he would experience in his life, I went ahead and spoiled my very own Christmas with one too many tears in the gift-wrapping.
You see, once I figured out where the gifts were being hidden, which was in the attic through a small hole in the ceiling. For a few nights in a row thereafter, I would jump up through the tiny hole using the help of my cousin’s shoulder and a weight-bearing doorknob, squeeze my seven-year-old body up in the dark abyss of the creepy attic and sit on the lip of the opening. When my eyes adjusted enough to see shadows, I began to feel around for presents. When I found one, the plan was to make a small tear in the wrapping paper. Just a teeny one, enough to reinforce your guess as to what it was. Only, we had one rule. My cousin and I decided that if we were going to do this, that it would have to be for only one special gift. “The” gift. The one we asked for the most. The one we wished for. For me, it’s the one pictured below. The 1983 Gobots Command Center. Oh boy, looking at that photo completely transports me to that Christmas. Memories rule!
Well, I found that box that contained that toy and did go through with the plan. I made the initial tear that first night in the beautifully wrapped gift with my name on it, a small one. Looked like an accidental other gift rub up against. No one would even blink at it. It was not enough, couldn’t see anything. The next night, I pulled the paper some more. Still, I could see nothing but the rip was barely noticeable. All good. Finally, on a night with only one adult present in the house, I got too carried away with the suspense and pulled a lot. Too much. Oh my God, I’m dead. I made a tear alright, a huge one. A parent noticing ripper. And, on top of that, at that very moment, at the same soul-crushing time, I confirmed I was, in fact, getting probably the most memorable gift of my childhood. Instantly, guilt warmed me over. What had I done? There were still four or five more days until Christmas. Stupid. Plus, at some point, I had to fix the “jig is up” wrapping debacle. Oh, Ash, you idiot. Not only have you ruined your surprise, but you also foiled the mystery of gift-giving. To add pepper to that, you did something not nice to something your mom, grandmother, and aunt worked really hard to purchase and to hide from me and my cousin in persevering the spirit and magic of Christmas. Shame on me, right? Trust me, I learned a very tough lesson that year. Never again will I ruin Christmas. But in the end, all was well. I did manage to fix the torn paper after the reveal and before that faithful jolly night, and in the end, the gift did still turn out to be my best-given gift as a kid. Even if it wasn’t from Santa. Wink, wink!
How about you? Ever ruined a Christmas by taking a taboo peak? Accidently blurt out a secret Santa swore you not to tell? Let me know in the comments. Remember, Christmas is something that can forever remind us that magic exists, we just have to stop being stubborn and believe!