Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 23, 2002 Herald
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Sneaking looks at Christmas presents


When I was young, my sister and I used to become experts at the art of unsticking tape from Christmas presents.

Unsticking tape allows the recipient to sneak peeks at the present without detection (in theory).

Unfortunately, you must also be a first-class drama student to pull this off.

Although my kids are both first class drama students, they haven't attained the true art of deception yet.

I am sure both my kids will play professionally at the Guthrie someday, and I've always said I should learn how to play the violin, to properly accompany them.

My daughter did the tape trick last weekend and then casually asked me about what was inside her present. "It seems like a package of socks," she said.

My motherly instinct kicked in and I knew instantly that she peeked.

"You peeked, didn't you?" I said.

She gave me a look of total surprise and said "Um. No. Um."

Two ums = guilty.

I laughed and said "YES YOU DID!"

So, she admitted it.

I informed her that previously viewed presents are generally taken back by the giver, who spends the money on herself (well, I didn't add that last part, but I was thinking it).

. . . And yes, I come from a long line of German families that give functional things like clothes, socks, and underwear as Christmas presents.

Our kids are too young to argue about the validity of socks as a present.

I can picture them now saying "Waaaait a minute. Aren't you supposed to provide for us anyway? Aren't socks a basic necessity?" but they haven't reached that far yet.

However, I must point out that a pack of socks has incredible value ­ before it's opened.

That's the magic of wrapping paper. You can wrap an old shoe into beautiful wrapping paper, and then watch your kids argue over whose present it is for almost three weeks. It's cheap entertainment!

The "present counting" ceremony is also something that we practice at our home, with a pile made every other day, keeping sharp tallies at who had how many presents.

Of course, this is more fun with more siblings, but my kids don't know this (being only two).

My kids are keeping track of everything.

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