By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon

Earlier today, I emerged from my home office after engaging in a zoom meeting. I exited with the breathless confidence of a woman who has completed her Christmas shopping ten days early. The “big gift” was, in fact, purchased in July. I took into account the recent supply chain issues. And for once, I planned ahead. My kids spent my meeting time engaged in various appropriate pursuits. That included playing basketball loudly right outside my office window, baiting the (loud) dogs in and out of my office until I finally broke down and locked the door. There was no sign that anything was amiss.

I dashed up to my closet to change into workout clothes. My goal was to walk the track during their swim team practice. But when I opened the door, I froze.

My closet is widely understood to be a no-fly zone. Not just because I haven’t managed to unpack since we moved last September. It currently looks as though a homeless person has set up residence. But that’s not why the kids aren’t allowed in.

During this season, my closet serves as Santa’s base camp. It hosts all the things that Santa would like to fit on his sleigh but cannot (due to stringent FAA regulations regarding the weight of the luggage on a craft.) The MOST DESIRED GIFT – a Nintendo Switch – arrived in July – and still resides in its Amazon box in the closet.  I recently moved it to the floor to make more space for sweaters. In the future, I’ll follow Carrie Bradshaw’s lead and store my sweaters in the oven. It would prevent what happened next.

In the middle of the floor, where a closed box once hid its bounty, was an open box. It revealed not only the Switch itself, but also the accessory pack, the extra controllers, and two of the games. Other presents – the Harry Potter chess set, the Wake Forest hoodie, and three new Speedo swim backpacks –  were scattered around the floor as well. Apparently someone peeked at their presents.

My heart literally hit my feet.

Someone – and I was reasonably sure which someone – saw every single thing Santa was going to bring him on Christmas morning.

My emotions vacillated between homicidal and grief-stricken. I put a lot of work into Christmas morning – way more than I probably should. Realizing the surprise was gone for at least one kid felt like a death.  I also worked really hard this year to make things extra-special in a year where I, by absolute necessity, separated from their dad. Frankly, I was pissed.

Furthermore, the guilty child who peeked at the presents is absolutely the one who cannot, for the life of him and everything holy, keep a secret. In between threats to send the Switch back to Santa, whom we both know is really Jeff Bezos, I swore the child to absolute secrecy with his siblings. I’m sure he has already told them. If he hasn’t, he’s looking for a way right now. By Christmas Eve, no one will need to shake a package. They’ll already know.

But then again, this child is my offspring. I’m a devoted reader who ALWAYS reads the last chapter of the book first. I don’t like surprises. I like knowing what to expect. My son now knows exactly what to expect. It might make these next ten days more bearable for him – and for me. And no, it doesn’t ruin the ending to read it first. It just prepares me emotionally. I wonder if this will actually help my tiny holiday tyrant be…less tyrant-y?

One can hope.

Anyway, the presents aren’t for me – they are for the kids. And even though I like the surprise factor, I guess it won’t ruin their fun on Christmas morning.

I certainly hope not.

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