I remember the moment.
I was young but had chores around the house; however, it was near Christmas and I wasn’t to go into the study. I knew not why but in a rare instance of obedience, remained outside the door and simply wondered what new frights awaited. After all, I enjoyed reading creepy stories, we lived in a rural area, and it stands to reason that there would be something scary in there, right?
My mother forgot that I wasn’t to go in the study and reminded me that I needed to vacuum. It was one of my regular chores but until that day, she had gotten the Hoover for me. I steeled myself, opened the door, and entered the shadowy room. Another of my chores was to open all the curtains each morning, except for the study during this time, so since I hadn’t done it, my dad hadn’t either. The study was a combination of his domain, the library, and extra storage. A set of encyclopedias, my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, and the off-limits top shelf books that belonged to my dad were on a rickety bookshelf. The Hoover, ironing board, and iron were in the closet. I slipped quietly into the deep and
I slipped quietly into the deep and approached the closet, which was slightly open. Through the crack, I could see something shiny. I slowly pushed and the door slid back to reveal a stack of beautifully wrapped gifts. Each had a tag — ‘From Santa’.
My eyes grew large as I checked tag after tag and soon I could no longer contain myself. I galloped from the room, Hoover forgotten, to find my mother. I told her of my find and concluded with a resounding cry of ‘I knew it!’
Her expression said it all. My mother was crushed.
I know that in hindsight.
At the time, it was something completely different.
I had voiced my suspicions about this red-suited individual from the time I heard about his slipping down chimneys to leave gifts at the foot of trees: we had no chimney, yet on Christmas morning there would be gifts. And in that moment of my mother’s forgetfulness, I found out the truth.
I gleefully went to school and shared my knowledge with friends, who congratulated me on my accidental detective work.
Meanwhile, my mom called my dad to let him have it: he had left the closet open. The Hoover was on the other end and if he hadn’t left that side cracked, I most likely never would have found the stash of presents.
While I don’t remember specifically, I suspect the atmosphere was a bit frosty indoors that evening.
I can recall other emotional and philosophical sparring matches with my parents. I applaud them for their resilience. After all, they survived having me as their child.
Ah, the joys of parenting.