By Kathy Koches
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Since my earliest days, I have loved the music, the smells, the decorations and the excitement in the air. Every year my sister and I would help Daddy take the lights and colored decorations in from the garage, lovingly unpacking each bulb and garland to be placed on the tree. After the tree was up, we would play “I’m thinking of an ornament” and try to guess which one the other person had chosen. We had candles in the shape of snowmen, Santa and reindeer, and we always set up a “woodland scene” under the tree with little animals, even placing ducks on the small round mirror which served as our “lake.” And of course we had Santa in his sleigh, with his nine reindeer. Don’t forget Rudolph, with his red nose, in the lead. I remember that we took turns setting up all the decorations, and most of the time got along just fine.
But there was one thing on which my sister and I could never agree. The box of decorations contained two identical Christmas stockings, one red and one green. Neither one had a name on it, nor were they different in any way, except color. But every single year Shirley and I would fight over who got the red one and who got the green one. I don’t remember why this was so important, and usually neither of us could remember what color we had the year before. But somehow, this “argument” became one of our Christmas traditions!
We always placed wrapped gifts under the tree, and the closer it got to Christmas, the more presents “magically” appeared. We were “on our honor” not to peek, and it was unthinkable that we would. That is until one night, when I was about 10 and Shirley was about 15. Our parents had gone to a Christmas party, and we were left home alone. There, under the tree, were these two enormous packages, one for each of us. There were lots of other presents too, but these two really had us guessing. We could not figure out what they might be! We picked them up, weighed them, shook them, but could not guess what they were. So one of us, (I’m sure it must have been my sister) suggested we take a peek. We thought about it for awhile: Did we dare do it? Would anyone find out? Could we pull it off?
Finally the temptation was too much, so we carefully lifted the tape on one end, slid the box out of the wrapping, and slowly lifted the lid. I don’t know what we were expecting, perhaps a huge stuffed animal, or a new coat – but much to our dismay we each got a new Hudson’s Bay blanket for our beds. Now these were very nice, expensive blankets, but somehow they just didn’t fulfill our expectations of opening those two huge boxes! And of course we were both feeling very guilty about opening them in the first place! We quickly replaced them in the boxes, slid the paper over them, being careful not to wrinkle or tear it, and replaced the tape.
To this day I do not know if our parents ever knew what we had done, and we both put on a pretty good show of being surprised and pleased when we opened them on Christmas morning. But we both vowed never again to spoil the surprise or peek at our presents!