Spoiling the Surprise?

Spoiling the Surprise?

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I had a pretty good idea where Mom and Dad hid our Christmas gifts when I was a kid, but I was not one to “sneak a peek” before Christmas morning. The element of surprise played a major part in the mystery and magic of Christmas morning.

My parents hosted house parties for the holidays. Relatives, friends, and neighbors filled our living room and spilled over into the kitchen for birthday parties, Fourth of July, and of course, Christmas Eve. Food and beverages of assorted strength abounded, but the main attraction at these gatherings was Dad’s talent at the piano. He played strictly by ear, declaring that piano music, in his opinion, resembled “fly specks on a piece of paper.”

One Christmas, Mom decided she would have the piano tuned as a Christmas gift to Dad. She took great pains to arrange for the piano tuner to come do his job and be gone before Dad arrived home from work.

That Christmas Eve, guests filled the house, and most of them knew about Dad’s “gift.” An air of anticipation permeated the room for the moment when he would sit at the piano and realize the instrument had been tuned.

A cute little Santa perched on top of a lamp in the living room. Conversation hummed, when someone commented, “Gee, that little Santa sure is adorable, sitting on that lamp like that.”

“Isn’t he, though?” Mom responded. “Even the piano tuner remarked—.”

Dad probably would not have noticed except for the immediate silence that followed.

The surprise was out!

I don’t believe, to this day, that Dad ever saw that surprise as “spoiled.” He, Mom, and our guests enjoyed piano music for the rest of the evening and far past the time we kids had been tucked into bed, our heads and hearts full of the excitement of Christmas morning only a few hours away.

My passion for keeping Christmas gifts a surprise for my own kids bordered on the neurotic as I prepared for the big day during their growing up years I would go to great lengths to hide gifts in “secret” places. It wasn’t until years later that I learned our son, who was a “gift peeper,” knew them all. I spent so much time finding reasons why the kids would not be receiving X gift, but my excuses only served to verify that the treasured item would for sure be under the tree on Christmas morning!

I’m not so adamant about keeping gifts a secret today. The practical side of me prompts me to ask the receiver to show me what they would like in a magazine. My husband and I have been known to buy each other gifts during our pre-Christmas shopping sprees, then wrap them and put them under the tree, knowing full what they are.

The greatest Christmas gift of all was never meant to be a secret. The Bible predicted the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, centuries before His birth. He prepared the hearts of man for this wondrous giving of Himself, delivered to mankind not in fancy receiving blankets in an ornate palace, but wrapped in swaddling cloths in a manger.

Whether you keep them a secret  or not, give your gifts this year with the spirit that God gave us the very first Christmas gift, His son—with love and joy in your heart.

May you all have a Merry and Richly Blessed Christmas Season!

Patti Shene About Patti Shene

Patti Shene has enjoyed writing since childhood. Patti hosts Step Into the Light, an interview format Blog Talk Radio show. Since the show launched in September, she has hosted a variety of guests who share the ways they reach out to help others overcome the dark times in their lives. Visit her website for more.


  1. Nice article, Pat. And it made me laugh because, I just finished a Christmas short-story where my male lead reminisces about his childhood Christmases and tells about one year when he and his two sisters discovered their mom’s hiding place and how it ruined Christmas morning for them. And, being children, they weren’t ver good at pretending surprise, so Mom found out, and took their gifts away from them, not letting them wear or play with them for a whole week. 🙂

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