Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12/24/13 Christmas Eve Gift

Tally so far:
Nick, on his way to the bathroom and back to bed
Mom (via text. It's 2013. It counts.)
And everyone who reads my Facebook feed. 

Score! I'm sure the presents will be pouring in momentarily.

Poking around the internet, it would seem that this is a strange Southern custom, but it is, indeed, a thing.

You can click here to read people's memories/variations/locations of this game.

Mammammy played this game ruthlessly with me, her only grandchild. Perhaps the vigor and outright glee with which she routinely got me each year stems from her lack of other victims. She was particularly sneaky after I turned six and she was living with us. I might be half groggily wandering into the kitchen in search of breakfast, hair askew, rubbing the crustiness from my eyes, and there she'd be, popping out from the pantry door to my right as soon as I passed the doorway, shouting, "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!!" Then she'd have to start a load of laundry for my pee'd pajamas.

No place was safe on Christmas Eve morning. 

And I was never clever, or committed, enough to set my alarm to try and beat her at her own game. She was up before dawn all year long, and the glee of her getting me was a much better payoff than turning the tables. 

That is, all but one year

I must have been twelve or thirteen that year, on the cusp of being (read: attempting to be) too cool for my own good, but not quite there yet. For some reason that Christmas Eve morning Mammammy was distracted or preoccupied, but she wasn't lying in wait for me. I mean this quite literally. By the time I was ten, I was conditioned to creep around like a hunted animal. I could've used the mirrors-around-corners trick to move around the house on Christmas Eve morning and no one would blame me. 

Right outside my door was a laundry shoot, with a little rectangular door slot  at waist level to pop dirty clothes into, and a larger door beneath to pull them out. I'd used this little space to win countless hide and seek games when I had friends over, but I was getting pretty large for that spot now. Nevertheless, after doing my morning toothbrushing etc, and not being caught, I heard my grandmother talking in the other room and realized I had the advantage. I squashed myself into the laundry door and waited. And waited. I began to think she must've gone back into her room instead of down the hall to spy on whether I was ripe for the picking. 

But no. Christmas Eve miracle. Here she came.

I could hear her right in front of the laundry door, at my door, peeking in, so I shot my hand out the small top door to poke her and shouted "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!!!"

I'm lucky it didn't kill her.

She staggered backwards, screaming, hands in the air and then clutching her chest, the stack of towels (probably a clean load from the laundry she was putting away) flying into the air.

I'll never forget the look on her face, some slow motion mixture of shock, then fear, then dawning understanding. Seeing my face grinning from ear to ear as I was peeking through that slot probably helped.

And we both laughed until we cried. 

Good times.

This morning, as Nick emerged, I shouted "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!" at him and he just looked at me puzzled and maybe slightly alarmed. 

Sorry, mammammy. I have failed you. This may be a tradition that fades into the sunset with us.

Apparently, getting misty and nostalgic is a thing I do on the blog every year. A few favorite posts from years past:

2011 Childhood Christmases Past

2012 I got even more carried away and started posting old Christmas stuff year by year in a countdown to Christmas. 
1974 and 1974
etc, just search AMOOXP top right for the rest!


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