"Mom, you are so smart."
Oh no. Compliments like this don't come freely from my children. No, I usually hear "whatever" or "that's so dumb" or my favorite "you're the worst Mom EVER!" So when I hear them praise my logic and knowledge as a Mom, I know something is up.
"And why is that, Krista. What do you know?"
Ah, yes... busted. The look on her face said it all. She wasn't expecting me to say that to her. She thought she would be coy and give me a compliment, but her sweet conscience got the best of her yet again. I could tell immediately that she had done something she probably shouldn't have done.
"Do you really want to know?" she asked sheepishly.
"Yes," I replied. "Tell me. What do you know?"
"We found our Christmas gifts.... but you were sooo smart not to label them!"
They had snooped. Their curiosity was too much for them. They had snooped while I was out of the house. And honestly, I did think I was being smart this year. I had bought things online, had them shipped to my office, and wrapped them at my office. Yes, thankfully, they were all wrapped. Then I cleverly disguised the gifts in a Sponge Bob bag and stapled it shut. And it was securely stapled. I know it took a lot of pulling and tugging to see what was inside.
Yes, I thought I was being smart, but here is where I slipped up. I just put the Sponge Bob bag in the laundry room downstairs on the floor. I didn't hide it. I didn't cover it up. Nope. It was left out in the open just BEGGING to be messed with. And so they did. They popped those staples loose and had a look inside the bag. The funny part is that after they were finished manhandling their packages, they stapled the bag back up. They had tried to cover up the snooping hoping I would never know, but Krista couldn't keep it a secret.
I was really upset with them. I shouldn't have been. I should have expected this to happen because I was an expert snooper as a child (and so was my husband, I later found out). I remember tearing off the corners of the packages because I was so darn curious. I would unwrap gifts, admire what I had found, and then wrap them back! One year, I knew Every. Single. Gift. I know my mom had to be furious with me because here I was in the exact same situation... completely furious.
So I began to explain to my children that Christmas is not about receiving... it's about giving. I want to see the look of joy on their faces when they see all of their presents on Christmas morning. That's why they are hidden. They are not placed under the tree until Christmas Eve night. That joy and happiness in their eyes when they see all of their gifts under the tree... THAT is what I look forward to every year. Giving is absolutely the BEST part and the true spirit of Christmas.
"Don't you like to be surprised? If you snoop now and everything is revealed to you, won't that ruin your Christmas morning? Isn't that robbing yourself of your own joy and excitement? Not only that... by snooping, you are stealing the joy from Mom and Dad too."
They looked down at their feet, nodded a little, and muttered they were sorry. Krista said she liked surprises and promised not to peek any more. Brandon said with true remorse, "You can take my gifts back, Mom."
I told them I would do no such thing, accepted their apology, and gave them a hug and a kiss. As they turned to walk away, I hoped that this would be the incident that cures them from snooping for their gifts, just like it did for my husband and me. Snooping only brings disappointment.
Hopefully this lesson will be the best gift they receive this Christmas.