My absolute favorite Christmas memory was a tradition my brother Chad and I had. My brother and I fought constantly, but once a year there was peace on earth as we worked together on our Christmas tradition…opening our presents early.
It started when I was seven. My brother and I really wanted the game Shark Attack, and there was a box under our tree that looked to be the size of Shark Attack. While my mom was getting ready, we opened and quickly tried to play Shark Attack. We had the game rewrapped and put under the tree before she came out of her room. With this first transgression, we were hooked.
Through the following years our tradition continued. One year, our parents gave us the early gift of walkie talkies. We quickly put these to good use for our tradition. My brother placed me at the top of the driveway, walkie talkie in hand, as lookout while he dug through the trash for receipts.
When I was nine, my parents put all of our gifts in the huge trunk of my dad’s Delta 88. Patiently, we waited all the Christmas season for them to slip up. One day they left the keys as they went out in a different car. We ran outside to see what trunkie claus had for us. I squealed with delight as my brother pulled out my brand new bicycle. I took it for a quick spin, and my brother made sure to wipe off the tires before he placed it back in the trunk.
Another year, we used my mom’s checkbook registry to find out all of our gifts. A few years later, my brother and I were delighted when my mom discovered the decorative box. She decided not to wrap our presents but place them in the decorative box. My brother and I could not have been happier because this made our job much easier.
Our tradition continued until one fateful Christmas. My brother was in his first year of college and was very busy. Determined to keep our tradition going, I opened all our gifts, and told him what he got. When Christmas morning came, my dad was videotaping as my brother opened one of his gifts. He held up a shirt and said, “Stephanie, is this the shirt you told me about.” I looked at him like I was going to kill him as my dad cut off the video camera. Dad then proceeded to give us the now famous “You Ruined Christmas” lecture. I believe this lecture was made up of parts of his Christmas sermon that year, the “I only got nuts and coconut candy when I was your age” story, and threats to never buy another gift for us again. After the lecture, dad cut the camera back on, and we faked surprise through the rest of the presents. However, we had done that for years.
One day Brandon and Collin will ask me why I never put presents under the tree until Christmas day, or why I shred all receipts for the month of December. Or why I randomly jump out during December and say, “Aha! I caught you!” I’ll just blame it all on their Uncle Chad.