In our house growing up, we had some pretty strict rules regarding Christmas morning.
- We never opened gifts on Christmas Eve although we lobbied long and hard for that concession.
- Farm chores were done first before anything else.
- Breakfast always came before the tree.
- Finally when we’d choked down our breakfast as quickly as we could without being admonished for it, we were allowed to approach the tree and wait patiently as our presents were passed to us one by one.
I remember one particular Christmas on the farm near Gladstone, Manitoba (different farm than the first story). I dutifully went out to help with the milking and feeding the animals as I was the only one yet old enough to do so. I think it was probably 1957 so I would have been 7.
My brother and sister remained in their beds with strict orders not to leave them under any circumstances.
As my mother and father and I returned from the barn and entered the back porch with buckets of milk and cream, the scurrying of bare feet could be heard and my brother and sister were caught in the act of fleeing back upstairs to their beds.
Well of course, my seven year old self was filled with righteous indignation over this traitorous act and my parents made quite a fuss about it, possibly over-reacting a bit more than the crime deserved. Looking back, I’m sure, had I not been out doing my duty in the barn I would have been right in there with the guilty parties.
That year our father had worked laboriously in his secret workshop, (I’d still like to know where that was) and built a very large doll house for my sister. Being too large to wrap, it had a sheet covering it, and the evidence was there for all to see that my sister had in fact been peeking. Either my brother hadn’t gotten as far in this little espionage caper or he’d managed to cover his tracks better, as, if my memory serves my poor sister got most of the flak.
Anyway, she got many hours of enjoyment from that doll house in the ensuing years but I suspect not a lot of pleasure that day with the memory of her chastisement so fresh. With all the focus on my siblings misdemeanor I don’t even remember what I got for Christmas that year. But I did get a story to tell.