There are two kinds of people during the holidays: Those who like to be surprised when opening Christmas presents, and those who don’t. Yes, I am talking about Present Peekers.
One of the conflicts of having children reaching adulthood is that they start to tell you things they did when they were young that you might not really want to know. Case in point: My sons told me during the Thanksgiving holiday about how they used to search the house to find their Christmas presents in advance. I don’t know that I wanted/needed to know that.
I have a co-worker who proudly tells about how she always knew what she was getting for Christmas because she was so adept at using a razor blade to slice the tape, check the gift, and re-wrap it without ever being caught. What a strange thing to brag about.
What kid would go to that effort only to satiate their curiosity, and at the same time sabotage their excitement for Christmas morning?
This former kid right here. Maybe it is genetic. When I was young, I remember scouring the house, trying to figure out where my mom had hidden things. I particularly remember one year, after some particularly fruitless searching, I stumbled upon a treasure trove of unwrapped Christmas presents in the trunk of my mom’s car.
Strangely, come Christmas morning, none of the presents we opened corresponded to what I had seen in the trunk. I was baffled. It was never spoken of. Maybe, one day, when I see my mom again, I’ll ask her about that.
I have since outgrown my desire to know in advance – I figure that the since someone is being kind enough to give me gift, I should be courteous enough to let them give it to me on their terms.
What is it about sneaking peeks that is so powerful? We know the giver wants it to be a surprise, and will sometimes go to great lengths to try and preserve that surprise, but our curiosity is simply more powerful than simple respect. (I have no evidence to back it up, but I think it correlates to those who read a book straight through vs. those who skip to the ending.)
I don’t presume to understand the psychology behind the fixation, but it probably has something to do with an inability to enjoy delayed gratification. (Uchtdorf’s marshmallows, anyone?) As I got older, and hopefully more mature, I stopped feeling compelled to know in advance, and now quite enjoy the surprise.
As adults we don’t peek as often, but there are other ways of Present Peeking. Some people just don’t like surprises. Some just have to know in advance. Some like to be in control, or have trust issues. They would rather only get cash or gift cards, pick out their own gifts, or even shop and wrap for themselves. Same syndrome, different age. To each his own.
Personally, I like being surprised. I like letting someone who cares about me (enough to give me a gift) give me a gift of their choosing. I like opening it on Christmas morning so that person can watch. I like respecting the giver enough to refrain from peeking. (But I’m still not above giving a package a quick shake…)
Are you a Present Peeker? Were you a Present Peeker? I imagine most families have one – and there is probably a tale to be told for each.
What are your anti-peeking techniques? Double-wrapping, swapping presents with the neighbors, wrong size boxes? Or do you just let them suffer the consequences of their impatience?
And if any of the FOMLs are reading, stay out of my closet.