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Friday, December 23, 2005

my worst christmas ever

It was the middle of December, 1978. I was in fourth grade. It may have been before school one morning, or at lunch, or as we were waiting for the bus to take us home, but some of my classmates started talking about what they would be getting for Christmas. Not speculating, but stating with confidence.

I had no idea what I was getting. I had made a list, but I had no guarantee that I would get what was on it. How could my classmates be so sure of what they were getting?

They explained to me that they had found where their parents hid their presents. For most, the hiding place was under the parents' bed.

I lived on a farm, and I knew there would be several opportunities when both my parents were out of the house. When the opportunity came, I went into their bedroom and peeked under the bed. Sure enough, there were the Christmas presents for me and my brother, wrapped in nothing but the manufacturer's original packaging. It was ridiculously easy. For once I knew exactly what I was going to get.

But somehow, the knowing in advance did not make for a better Christmas. Quite the opposite. It was my worst Christmas ever. All the excitement and wonder of tearing open a package and trying to guess what was inside, I had forfeit. Because I had known for several days what I was getting, I didn't even feel like the gifts were new any more. I tried to make an outward display of happiness, but inside I was numb. I hadn't anticipated this at all.

Sometimes it's better not to know.


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