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Musing: Christmas Blabbermouth
My excuse for being the Christmas blabbermouth? I was seven. A little kid with a big mouth that had a tendency to vocalize my unfiltered thoughts.
My eleven-year-old brother, Dale, knew the risks of me having too much knowledge of his doings. I was on a strict need-to-know basis.
In this case, though, he had no choice. We were going on a family Christmas shopping expedition to the department store on Main Street in downtown Gastonia.
Yes, way back in the early 1970s before malls, department stores centered even smaller towns. We ogled the Christmas displays, one complete with a train traveling around a model town. The gleaming escalators beckoned us to the second floor, even if one did try to eat me. Santa listened as we explained what good children we were, even as we argued with each other about who had been better.
Our mother conveniently announced she needed to go off in a different direction, leaving us alone with our father to shop. It’s almost as if our parents had planned things in advance.
But that gave Dale his chance. He knew exactly what to buy and, best of all, mom had no clue. A total surprise gift!
He stealthily made his purchase, and we traipsed over to the gift wrapping department. Then we rejoined our mother and headed to the parking lot, with Dale proudly carrying her present.
She had no clue what was in the box. He had done it!
As we drove out of downtown, a panicked look crossed Dale’s face. He frantically checked his pockets, searched the seat and floor, and then announced, “I’ve lost my wallet.”
I knew how important it was to him. He had been so proud of having his very own, grown-up wallet. It contained at least a dollar or two, more money than I had ever seen. I needed to help, so I suggested, “Maybe you left it on the counter when you bought mom those muffin tins.”
Yes, I ruined the surprise. Yes, we really did buy kitchen supplies for my mother as a present. Yes, we would be the primary beneficiary of such a gift. Yes, I knew the second the words were out of my mouth that I would be on the receiving end of a sibling beating as soon as he had a chance. Yes, we shared a room, so I knew that opportunity would come soon.
But that’s the way of siblings. Being four years older, he was my hero, my protector, my co-conspirator, my mentor, and my tormentor. In return, as his little brother, I was his pain in the…, er, derrière.
I know exactly what that is like because I have a little sister. After she was born, my brother and I watched her sleep and said, “She’s boring. When will she walk or talk?” Did we ever regret that.
Oh, and sis, love you and can’t wait to see you at Christmas. Just sharing a few fond memories. I’m sure you understand.
Anyway, I learned my lesson. I relearned it from my brother later that night. I would never blab again.
Just a few days later, Dale enlisted my help in a little scheme.
The growing assortment of packages under the tree tormented us. We wanted to know what we were getting without waiting for Christmas morning. If only we could take a little peek, then we would know.
His plan was simple. I would stand watch while he inspected his packages. Then he would be on guard while I rifled through my own. What could possibly go wrong?
I took my sentry post. At even the slightest hint of trouble, I sounded the alarm. Something subtle like, “Quick! They’re coming.”
When they came in the room, I would be standing at the door whistling. Dale would be sitting beside the tree looking out the window. They never suspected a thing.
Finally, after he had completed his reconnaissance, my turn came. I slithered under the tree. A shake of the first box confirmed my fears. Clothes. No interest in that.
I checked others, but my target was along the wall behind the tree. A big package with an even bigger bow. I inched my way to it, slid a finger under the edge of the paper, and carefully lifted the tape. Once I had enough gap created, I looked.
The electric car I had been begging and begging for. The right color. The right model. Everything. It was perfect.
A hissed warning told me danger approached. I put the tape back in place and crawled out from under the tree. Without time to escape, the two of us sat side by side, as pleasant as could be. When my father came in the room and raised a questioning eyebrow, we told him we were just admiring the Christmas tree. Without fighting. Really.
Yeah, we were that smooth. He might have had that U.S. Army Security Agency experience, but he’d never met anyone as talented as we were at deception.
Unfortunately, Christmas was days away. I couldn’t stand it. I visited the special package over and over, dreaming of what I would do with it once unwrapped. It was going to be so cool.
Christmas Eve finally arrived. Per family tradition, all we needed to do was sleep through the night and then open presents on Christmas morning. I was mere hours away from my precious toy.
As we prepared for bed, my father asked, “What are you boys hoping Santa brings for your stocking?”
My brother answered with the usual candies and goodies. When the attention turned to me, I expressed my biggest hope. “Please, Santa, bring some batteries for the new electric car I’m getting.”
I don’t know which one of them shot the nastier look, but I definitely knew which one would extract revenge as soon as we were tucked in bed and the lights blinked out. My only hope to avoid retribution was to stand strong, take the blame, and not mention his involvement at all.
My father sternly asked, “And how do you know you’re getting that car?”
Yes, there was that security training. I withered under interrogation. With tears streaming down my face, I pointed at my brother, and said, “He made me do it. I didn’t want to, but he said it was okay and…”
The next morning, still stinging from the well-deserved, brotherly response that came in the middle of the night, I went into the living room with the rest of the family. Dale and I dutifully acted surprised at every present. My mother opened her muffin tins and did the same. We put the batteries in my new, electric car and drove it around the house, only getting into a few shouting matches over it.
Yes, I’ll never forget that Christmas and the lessons I learned. Don’t blab your mouth. Don’t peek at your presents. Don’t rat out your brother.
And, most importantly, don’t buy kitchen stuff for your mother. Seriously. Perfume. Candy. Anything else.
Enjoyed The Story? How About A Novel?
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Gratuitous Dog Photo: Master of Disguise
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Until Next Monday
Enjoy all of the surprise gifts you give. I promise not to be a blabbermouth. Maybe.
See you next Monday.
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