Thursday, December 10, 2009

She does NOT like surprises!

I have two younger sisters. My youngest sister Jane does not like surprises. Every year at Christmas she turned our house upside-down finding all the presents hidden and on Christmas Day as you were about to open a present she would say things like, "you're going to really like this one!" It got to the point where before you opened anything you'd glance at Jane and she would give you a slight nod or a shake depending on whether she thought you'd like it or not.

Another of our Christmas traditions was to do a sister-sleepover on Christmas Eve and Jane would wake up hours before Erin or I and dump all the stockings out and to see what everyone got and to high-grade the candy and gifts that we all got slightly different versions of like watches or socks. In her later teen years Jane decided she was tired of always knowing what everyone got every year and she decided to shake things up and be surprised. She announced this one day at dinner to a stunned silence and so Mom went out of her way to surprise Jane that year, even going so far as to not hide a single gift at home, just in case! And wouldn't you know that was the year Jane happened to walk out of the library, which was kitty-corner to the office where my Mom worked, at the same time Mom happened to be taking Jane's gift inside her office to hide. Even when she wanted to be surprised she couldn't be. This might be genetic as apparently my Mom's brother, Cam, was always like that.

Now I'm the Mom and it's my job to do Christmas. This year, in the midst of all our holiday busyness Hugh and I are refinishing a hutch we bought off Kijiji. Cuz there's nothing like adding a bit of unnecessary stress to an already stressful season, right? Last weekend we went downstairs to prime it. (Our basement is unfinished.) Hugh went down a few minutes before me and I heard him say, "You guys get out of there! You know you're not allowed to play in there!" Which made me run down the stairs immediately because I knew the "there" Hugh was talking about was the furnace room which besides being off limits due to the potential for danger and destruction, is also where I hid the boys' Christmas presents. I could immediately tell from the looks on their faces that Tristan had no idea what was in the bags in the furnace room and Ava knew exactly what was in the bags. I took her upstairs for a little private convo where I used my best mom voice. You know the one right? It's the one guaranteed to get truthful answers because although quiet and controlled, it sounds like the wrath of God is about to fall and holds just a hint of the promise of the end of life as we know it.
"Ava what did you see in the bags?"
"What kind of toys?"
"Little People."
The Little People are just a little add-on gift in the spirit of keeping things even between all the kids. Can I just say right now that I wish kids this age understood evenness in terms of cost and not how many presents they have to open? Anyway, the point is the Little People were sitting on top of the boys' main gifts, Bounce Back Racers, which Tristan has asked for two years in a row.
"What else did you see?" I demanded.
"Ummm, ummm, ummmm," she said with quivering little lips. "I saw, um, I saw hot things and sharp things and dangerous things." And then she fell sobbing into my arms while I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that I did not have to start my Christmas shopping over. When she calmed down I said, "Ava do you know you're not allowed in the furnace room?"
"Well then why did you go in there?"
"Because I wanted to see those toys again."
"How many times have you been in that room?"
"Um, maybe about like five times?"

Sometimes you just can't fight fate. Or genetics. I sure hope Ava can keep a secret.