I’ve only come up with the perfect Christmas present once before. It happened when I was 17 or so and living with my parents and my sisters. Each year my family exchanged Christmas gifts, but my Christmas gifts were usually less than stellar. Something about putting in effort and using my own money got in the way of getting decent Christmas presents.
Then I had an epiphany.
Each year my family did the 12 days of Christmas for another family. We would make treats or have some sort of present ready to go and each night we would sneak up on that family’s doorstep on each of the 12 nights before Christmas, set the gift on the doorstep, knock on the door and then run as hard and as fast as we could. That tradition was great for a few reasons. It taught us about the importance of giving and it gave us nightly rushes of adrenaline as we tried not to get caught.
I liked the tradition so much that I decided to do the 12 days of Christmas for my own family. It was the perfect Christmas gift idea and I knew they’d never see it coming.
I went to Walmart and picked out about $40 worth of gifts. They were just stupid gifts like a candle or a giant candy cane. Nothing fancy. I stored and wrapped the gifts in our camping trailer that nobody in my family had used in years.
The first day of the 12 days before Christmas, I told my parents I was going to the backyard to gather wood for our nightly fires. That was my job every day anyway, so they never read into my disappearance. I waited 5 to 10 minutes and then I sneaked around to the front of the yard and set the first gift on the porch, knocked on the door and then ran to the wood pile in the backyard. Once I got to the woodpile, I pretended nothing had happened. A few seconds later, I watched as one of my sisters took off running down the street thinking she was chasing whoever left the treats on the doorstep.
The second and third days were fairly similar, but I used different excuses each day as to why I wasn’t in the house. On the fourth day I began to wonder if my parents were catching on because I was never available to run after whoever was leaving the gifts on the doorstep. I got my neighbor friend to ring the doorbell that night and run, and I was ready to chase him. My family watched as I took off down the street only 40 or 50 feet behind my friend. We ran around the corner and down far enough to where my family couldn’t see us anymore and then we just hung out for a while. I went home about 10 minutes later and told my parents I couldn’t catch whoever left the gifts.
The next several nights were pretty similar to the first, second, third, and fourth nights. The 10th night presented the biggest challenge. It was a Saturday night and my dad was bound and determined to catch whoever was doing the 12 days of Christmas. He told me he was going to hide in our giant blue spruce tree in our front yard and wait until someone came to drop off the gift. He headed out to the tree at about 6:00 p.m. and there he sat until about 9:30 p.m. until he couldn’t take the cold anymore. Of course, I was inside watching TV and drinking hot chocolate as I waited for my dad to give up.
When he finally gave up, he sent me outside to fill his post. I waited out in that blue spruce tree for about 15 minutes and then I dropped the gift on the doorstep, knocked on the door, and then chased my friend, who was waiting 50 yards down the road, around the block. Halfway around the block I had my friend throw me in the snow bank so it would look like I came this close to catching the person who was doing the 12 days of Christmas.
On the final night, which was Christmas Eve night, in the middle of our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, I ran outside and knocked on the door and stood there waiting for someone to answer. My sister answered the door and said, “What are you doing?” I handed her the 12th gift and she gave me a puzzled look. We went downstairs and I explained that I was the one who had been doing the 12 days of Christmas and they all looked stunned. The first words out of my dad’s mouth were, “You had me sitting out in that damn tree for 4 hours knowing that no one was going to come while I was out there?”
With that, I realized I got my perfect Christmas gift too.
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