I used to have a problem.
It was an insidious little thing...it only showed up once a year. It wasn't something diagnosable, no medication would fix it. I suppose therapy could have helped...but I didn't want to tell anybody the symptoms I suffered. So I kept my problem a secret and endured in silence, unable to share the pain and guilt that came from my clandestine behavior.
I was a peekaholic.
I just couldn't stand the suspense of not knowing what I was getting for Christmas. I'd shake and rattle each box, then, when no one was home, I'd find a sharp knife and carefully slit the tape. I'd take a look inside and then tape things back up so well nobody ever knew.
Or so I thought. One year I figured out a way to open my new Barry Manilow album and keep it accessible; I could slide it out and play it whenever my mother left the house. My sister and I knew all the songs by Christmas morning. I remember coming up with some lame excuse why that was...but I'm not a very good liar. Then or now. Mom got suspicious.
The following Christmas I found three piles of presents hiding in my mom's closet. None of them had nametags on them, but it was pretty easy to figure out which stack was mine. By the time I was done I not only knew what I was getting but I knew what my siblings were getting, too.
I know. I was sick.
My mother used to say I was only hurting myself by peeking. If that was the case, I was very willing to hurt myself. It was far less painful than living with all of those mysteries under the Christmas tree.
The cure to my peekaholism seems to have been, surprisingly, age. I remember some pretty significant peeking episodes when I was in my twenties, but things have settled down considerably. I spent years coming up with splendid surprises for my kids. That kept me distracted.
Yikes. What if peekaholism is hereditary and they were faking their surprise all those years?
I suppose that would serve me right.
Now that my kids are grown, I find I'm very willing to relinquish my roll in their lives as the major Christmas surpriser. I will gladly hand that off to their spouses.
And I'm no longer distracted.
And my friend just brought me a Christmas gift. It's in my purse.
Wanna know what it is?