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Sherry Hopkins column

Get the picture? … by Sherry Hopkins

Sneaky Sherry can’t leave gifts secret

As a very young girl I used to pray that I would stay the same age forever. I couldn’t imagine not being able to feel the anticipation and longing for Christmas as I did then. The days and weeks were almost unbearable to me.

Mama did all the shopping for us kids. She worked downtown and would shop on her lunch break and at times take the bus in early the closer it got to Christmas day, as the stores would be open longer hours. She never failed to excite and overwhelm us with the gifts she bought. There were those things, toys mostly from Santa and clothes and shoes from Mama and Daddy.

She hid things very well. Some in the hall closet where my Daddy kept his work clothes, some in the top of her closet in a blue and white overnight travel case that I longed for all my childhood. To me that beautiful case held the expectation of a safari in deepest darkest Africa, or a boat trip on the Nile, or at the very least to my cousin’s house across town for the night.

She hid things behind the sliding doors on her bookcase headboard and under the bed too.

My parent’s room was off limits to us children. Only when I was older and ironed pillowcases and my Daddy’s handkerchiefs was I allowed in their sanctuary. After completing my chore I would put the freshly laundered and pressed items in their respective dresser drawers.

But Christmas time was different, I had no boundaries and I became a huntress, bold in my search for treasure. I would wait until I was alone and go through every nook and cranny of their bedroom.

I looked between the mattress and box springs, in jacket pockets and in the toes of shoes. Sometimes I found things and others times I came up empty-handed. I don’t know if my Mama ever knew what I was up to but I never got caught.

If I couldn’t find anything prior to the gifts being wrapped and displayed under the tree,

I would open the presents after they were wrapped. I carried with me a “kit” in a plastic bag that consisted of Scotch Magic tape, a razor blade that I had sneaked from the medicine cabinet and bits of all the paper that Mama had used to wrap that year. I would carefully and quietly open the ends of each package to see what was inside. My compulsion was fierce as I would not only open all my gifts but everyone else’s as well. I just couldn’t stand a secret. Holding all that information inside me for weeks was almost more than I could bear at times. But I couldn’t divulge my sneakiness to anyone because both my sister and brother were big tattletales. They looked for any and every opportunity to get me in trouble as it was.

Come Christmas Eve the excitement and expectancy had plum wore me out. As we all retired for the evening I could scarcely sleep. I coveted the magical moment when I could make my way to the cold dark living room overrun with Santa’s bounty and while waiting for my eyes to adjust try to feel my way around. After I had thoroughly checked out each and every thing Santa had left for us and satisfied that my loot was indeed the best, I would quietly awaken my brother and sister boasting all along that I had been the first to see it all. Somehow in my childish little mind that made me smarter than the two of them.

My sneakiness carried over into my adult life until dear Don informed me that my snooping around and finding all the things he had to surprise me with was ruining HIS Christmas.

So I stopped it all more than twenty years ago but if I could convince Santa that I was just a little girl in an old girl’s body I would still be the first up on Christmas morning just for the bragging rights alone. You get the picture?

(Email Sherry at sherryhopkins@bellsouth.net)