I was a nosy kid. Easily bored & occasionally left alone when I was old enough to be trusted on my own for short periods. Dad worked evenings & Mom the day shift a few days a week, leaving me an hour or two after school without supervision. This was when I did my explorations.
I didn't ransack the house. That would be just sloppy. I would poke around in little areas here & there, always ready to instantly cover my tracks should someone come home unexpectedly. I'd check out what was deep inside the end table cabinets (Dad's had a selection of puzzles, invisible ink game books, poker chips/cards, some coloring books filled with complex geometrical designs & possibly a Rubix Cube. Mom's had art supplies, cross stitch floss & lots of envelopes full of family photos.) I'd see what they had on their nightstands & carefully search through the encyclopedias for
But the discovery... THE great discovery. The mother of all kid discoveries was made late in the year some autumn afternoon. I noticed a new box high on a shelf up in a corner of the sewing room. So high it was nearly against the ceiling & touching two walls. When I say "new" I mean it was new to me, because I was no stranger to the room. So I found myself perched upon the only chair in the room reaching above the sewing machine to grab down this strange new box.
The first thing I noticed was that it had no flaps on top. Something that was easy to get into without bothering to seal or unseal. Within I found a jumble of jumble of mismatched items. All new & stored without any sort of order. Items that needed recipients. Yes, I had at long last discovered where Mom hid the Christmas presents! Oh it was such a thrill. To finally know before the day what I was going to receive, what toys I would soon be playing with or new books I could look forward to reading. It was all there for my perusal & I greedily took stock of everything I found. I could even go back later to check & see if anything was added. It was the jackpot! The mother load!
Oh but if only knew. That very discovery could lead me into a world of trouble. Snooping where I was not supposed to be. Finding something I was not supposed to see. If I were caught I could very well lose all that I had found. Indeed, I still kept checking back because a secret worth finding is a secret worth having. But when the day came when I was to receive my treasures it was different. On Christmas day I already knew most of what I was getting & I could easily gage what each beautifully wrapped package contained. The magic was gone. I was still happy to receive the gifts but the excitement & wonder was already spent while standing on a chair & rooting through a cardboard box in a dim sewing room weeks before.
I continued for a couple more years. Fueled by curiosity & greed I'd start peeking when the year came around to that time again. But I stopped. I felt so phony faking surprise & excitement when opening gifts. The unwrapping just became a means to an end rather than a magic unveiling. Mom eventually suspected I might be rooting around where I shouldn't be & began hiding the gifts at a friend's next door to thwart me, but by that time I had already given up. Surprises are much more fulfilling, even if you don't get what you most expect.
As an epilogue, once I reached high school years later I noticed the magic box made a return to its former resting place high in the sewing room. By then I was tall enough to reach it without a chair. Instead, I just left it alone.
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