Every family has holiday traditions that are unique. My family used to go for Chinese food every Thanksgiving and play Trivial Pursuit (the adults anyway) on Christmas.
Though we weren’t a rich family, I always credit my parents for doing whatever they had to do to make holidays as perfect as possible. My mom fought parents during the Cabbage Patch craze, called toy stores and had clerks acting as informants looking for me a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Leatherhead” figure, and even bought an 11 year old a set of swords from a xeroxed mail-order catalog.
She also liked to have fun with our presents. She had a couple of sneaky-snooping kids who were home alone all day during Christmas and Summer Break (both my sister and I have summer birthdays) while she and my father worked. She knew we’d snoop around for our presents…and so she set about hiding them in creative places. She somehow managed to hide two bikes, a skateboard, and a scooter in the late 80s in our mid-sized condo. I still don’t know how she did that…
To this day I can say, though my presents were always around the house…I only ever had access to one, the swords. I was there when they were delivered, and I checked them out before she put them under her bed til my birthday. My favorite hidden present is from Christmas…circa 1992.
I was a Sega player. Since my mom got me that Sega Game Gear and I traded my NES for a Genesis, I loved Sega products, games, and franchises. That year I asked for a Sega CD. My mom played it cool with me and didn’t let on that I would get it. I remember searching everywhere for that thing. We set up our tree (we were using a little 4′ one at this point), laid out the crocheted tree skirt (which was made the the GIANT 6′ tree we used to have! and is still awesome…), put presents underneath, but nothing that looked like a Sega CD to me. I dug through the house, looked in closets, under beds…nowhere to be found.
Christmas morning I awoke to find extra presents in the pile under the tree, we went through them and…still no Sega CD. Eventually my mom, registering my disappointment, said “there’s one more. Look under the tree.” I did, confused, there was clearly nothing left… She said, “No UNDER the tree!” I lifted the heavy crocheted green tree-skirt and there, with the little Christmas tree standing directly on the massive dense box, was my Sega CD.
We still laugh about how my mom was so sneaky she once hid a HUGE present under the Christmas tree and I never knew about it until Christmas morning despite all my snooping…
So Merry Christmas to all the great, sneaky, fun parents out there. The ones that give real presents like memories like that…long after present wrapped in colored paper has seen its last use.