I blame my sister. She was the one who was too curious for her own good about Christmas presents. I remember once when I was about 12-years-old, she quietly motioned me to join her in the bathroom where she had meticulously and surreptitiously unwrapped one of her Christmas presents with a razor blade. Her curiosity had driven her wild. It was a jewelry box. Anticipation and excitement completely over, she carefully rewrapped it.
We were all excited as kids. I remember sorting piles of presents with my sister. "Wait, David has two more than me." "Ooh, listen to this one when you shake it?" "Look, can you read the writing through this paper?" "Oops, I accidentally ripped this one..."
This must have been the type of behavior that first caused my father to inaugurate THE CODE. For many years he did not put names on our Christmas gifts. He labeled them with codes. Until we cracked the code, we had no idea who those tantalizing boxes were intended for. His codes were always numbers. Any number 0-50 is Kathy, 51-100 is Barb, 101-150 is Brad, 151-200 is Dave, 201-250 is Mom and 250 to infinity is for the whole family. That was just one of his numerical methods to madness that kept us guessing at Christmas time.
Skip to a generation later. Four young children are stacking, shaking, and squeezing presents under our Christmas tree. Time to commence with the code. Oh sure, it started out easy enough with the every 50 numbers breakdown, but soon I was spending more and more time concocting a code each yuletide season! Last year's code was something like -- the name on the gift would have the same initials as the recipient but not necessarily in the proper order. Example: Shiny Jingle Nose would suffice for Nathan James Shurilla.
The codes seem easy. Of course they always do to the person who knows their secret.. but they never fail to stump. The best code breaker in the family has always been my oldest, Lars. Sorry Nate, Chelsea and Keaton - you know it's true. Just look at him - he's practically a secret agent now. Codes have been broken from college and Taiwan with the help of big brother. Will this year's code get cracked in China? We'll see. How can all these random names mean anything? "Heh, heh, heh!" she laughs, as she maniacally twists her mustache. "It's just too simple! Need some help? Skype Lars!"
WARNING young parents: Be careful what you start! I'm probably on my 15th annual Christmas code. And once started, don't even think for a minute about letting that tradition slip by the wayside. The offspring won't have any of that! Just try and suggest that maybe we don't need to have a code this year. "What??? We HAVE to have a code! It's tradition!" My husband just smiles, "You started it."
No, my father started it... and I still blame my sister!