Sneaking Down For Christmas

I am the 5th of 7 children, all born within 10 years. As one of the younger kids,  I was introduced to a number of–at times–dubious adventures by my older siblings. Not the least (and perhaps the most frightening) of which was sneaking down to the living room on Christmas Eve to feel the filled stockings once our parents had gone to bed.

I think my brother Mike started it all, though I can’t be sure. It was a rite of passage and we all participated. And we did this one at a time, in the patch dark! (We practically lived in the country and there were very few outside lights.)

When it was my turn, I slowly made my way down the totally dark front stairs, grateful that my parents’ bedroom was at the other end of the house.

Heart pounding, certain that any moment the lights would go on and I would be caught, I made my way to where I thought my stocking was on the floor in front of the fireplace and tried to make out what all those funny-shaped things were inside of it.

We had rules, you see.  We were not allowed to take anything out of a stocking, not allowed to bring a flashlight and certainly not allowed to turn on a light.

The Christmas tree was on the other side of the living room and I never bothered to crawl over there to see whether I had a new doll or bike awaiting me. That was entirely too risky, as there were couches and lamps that would gladly trip me up.

Because I was a younger child, it never dawned on me to refuse to do this. I couldn’t be called a chicken, after all.

Yet every Christmas morning, I would be surprised at what I found in my stocking. I never, ever was even close to guessing from having ‘felt up’ the stocking the night before. So the whole exercise seemed somewhat pointless.

After we were grown, we told our mother about having done this, and she said that she and our dad never had a clue that it was going on.

So I guess we were pretty good at it!


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