Prowling For Presents

present.jpgBad as I hate to admit it, I have a confession to make. I’m a snoopy person. There, my secret is out. Everyone in my family knows it. I’m not exactly proud of it, but I can’t seem to stop. I just have an insatiable curiosity. Especially when it comes to brightly wrapped gifts with my name on them.

It all started when I was big enough to read and recognize my name. The minute those wrapped gifts came out I’d wait until everyone was busy and not looking. Then, I’d sneak the gift into a safe place where I wouldn’t be disturbed. Sometimes it was the bathroom; that was a place where no one would question a locked door. I got very good at lifting up the tape without tearing or messing up the paper. I’d quickly see what was inside and put everything back exactly like I’d found it. I never got caught back then. If I had, I would’ve gotten my sneaky little fanny tanned. No, I was very careful. And I became so accomplished at the art that my little sister would beg me to do the same with hers. 

xmas-gift.jpgSomewhere along the line, I figured out that it was easier to spy at them before they’d reached the wrapped stage. Duh! I’d climb onto a chair so I could reach the top of my mom’s closet. That was generally her hiding place for the Santa stuff and presents she hadn’t had time to seal up with paper and tape. Another good spot was in her dresser drawers. No place was safe from my inquiring mind. It never occurred to me to that it was more fun to wait for the surprise. I needed instant gratification I guess. But what’s bad is that I’m still that way. I’m hopelessly beyond redemption. My husband and kids got wise to me though and either put my gifts under lock and key or they waited until the very last possible minute to buy them. Used to frustrate me to no end. 

I think being snoopy has had its advantages though. It’s come in mighty handy in writing my stories. That early training has helped me dig for those illusive facts and little hidden details that add depth. My snoopiness has worked in chipping away the ore in the mine for those sparkling golden nuggets. It’s also been helpful in finding ways to craft satisfying story endings. Searching for, digging, and unearthing the gifts that have my name on them.  

Oh, and I reckon this is a good time to confess that I always have to read the last page of a book before I buy it. For some odd reason, I have to know that everything is going to end well before I invest time in reading a story.

santas-list.jpgDon’t know if it’s true about confession being good for the soul or not, but I feel better. I imagine this pretty well seals my fate at a time when Santa’s making his list and checking it twice. I’m reasonably sure I’ll find Linda Broday on the naughty side of the ledger.

How about you? The confessional’s open. Do you have something you need to get off your chest? But are you brave enough?

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

28 thoughts on “Prowling For Presents”

  1. My bad-present persona has taken a different turn, especially after I had kids. Mine is keeping the gifts away from them, which I can’t do! I go out and hunt for the things I know they want and then I have to hide the gifts and keep ’em away from the kids until Christmas! It is darn near impossible for me to make it until Christmas day. I have been known to move Christmas up at least a week early, because that’s usually when my self-restraint breaks. Hubby threatens to wait until Christmas eve to buy gifts every year so I can’t be tempted to give in, but I secretly suspect he is as bad as me, because he usually starts giving in without a fight a good two days before Christmas.

  2. Um, I’ll confess. All those nicely wrapped presents under the tree were my downfall. I too, would sneak around, grabbing gifts with my name on them, prying the tape off every so gently and sliding the boxes out to see what I had. I was able to pull the gig off for several years, then one day, my mum snuck up on me and caught me red-handed. She made me go with her to the store to return every single item she purchased for me. I was devastated. Then one day I had an epiphany. To return the presents you had to have a receipt, right? Um, where did mom get those receipts. I sat down and thought that day through, step by step analyzing everything mum did. Then it hit me, the receipts where in a canister in the kitchen. Hello nurse. About a week later mum went out shopping and came back with a load of stuff. She sequestered herself in her room with rolls of wrapping paper and tape. I knew she had rebought presents for me, most likely not the exact same stuff she had made me return. I had to keep my excitement in check, this time I had to find the perfect moment to go through the canister to see exactly what was on the receipts. I waited oh so patiently, (not really, I bit every nail I had off while being patient) until both my parents were tucked safely into bed. I snuck downstair with a penlight, and found those receipts. I knew exactly what I was getting for Christmas.

    After that I would only unwrap packages that I had no clue what they contained, or if a receipt said something vague like shirt, jeans, etc.

    To this day, mum still doesn’t realize I know where she hid those receipts

    A side note here about my reading habbits. I always read the first chapter, get a feel for the characters, and then I immediately turn to the last 2 pages and read them. I ruined the last Harry Potter by doing that. I made a promise not to do it again. Alas, it isn’t working. I was reading a terrific mystery of some sort, and just couldn’t stand not knowing who the bad guy was, so oops I accidently turned to the last page, and there was my answer. At that point I lost interest in the book.

  3. My confession is kind of the opposite. I don’t want to know what I’m getting if there’s something with my name on it, but my husband sometimes presses the point and wants to give me hints or let me open it early.

    He bought something for me the other day and made a point of marking it out on the receipt so I couldn’t tell what it was, then he and the kids wrapped it and he had them put their names on it, so its actually from them. His gift to me this year is in the process- I sent my application and fees out last week to join RWA and then after I get my member #, the fee for joining KYRW. That’s my present this year. :o)(and years to come hehe)

    My actual confession though is that I love to play Santa. And this year I’ve gone beyond just doing it for the kids. I kept thinking that I wanted something for all of us from Santa under the tree. We all like to sing with the Playstation 2 karaoke games we have, but they just don’t make enough games for that purpose, so I thought-what would be better than The Singing Machine and a few CD+Gs to get us started?

    So I ordered the machine and 3 Country Hits karaoke cds…and I’m not even clueing my husband in, so that his suprise will be as real as the kids when they find a couple of presents under the tree addressed to all of us as a family from Santa. Plus it’s something the four of us can do together and we can always get other karaoke CDs later to add to the fun. If I pull it off this year, I might play “family” Santa from now on. LOL

  4. Hey, shame on you girls for peeking when Santa’s not looking! LOL! I’m in the same boat as you, Taryn. I don’t want to know, but my husband is a snooper like some of you gals. I can never wrap a present and put his name on it without him driving me nuts about it. And he drives me nuts giving me hints about what he’s bought me. He can never stand it and usually ends up plopping my gift into my lap way before Christmas and INSISTING I open it just to make sure it’s the right size or that it’s something I don’t hate. This is sooo disappointing. It just takes away the fun from the child that still lives somewhere deep inside me because when Chrismas rolls around I never have a present to open. This year I spared myself all that. I already asked for what I needed and got it. I’m typing on it right now. :o)

  5. My earliest rememberance of Christmas is the family dinners we had at my grandmother’s, then our house after Grandma moved out of her big house into smaller places.

    Mother came from a family of 10 siblings, my step dad one of four boys, so I had dozens of cousins, only two older than me. We ate in shifts, the kids last, of course. 🙂 And guess who got stuck with washing dishes? Sometimes it wasn’t advantageous to be one of the oldest.

    My dad was the biggest kid around. He could never wait until Christmas Day to open gifts, and he, to my mother’s despair, always bought gifts for everyone! Which meant they had “revolving charge accounts” at several stores in town.

    When I had my family we’d go to my folks’ for Christmas Eve, but Christmas morning was reserved for Santa’s visit at our own house.

  6. LOL! Exactly Devon!

    My husband is a snooper too, he wants to tell me about mine and then asks for hints about his presents!

    I’ve already wrapped his presents, but he had no clue they’re under the tree…at least I don’t think he does…he probably still thinks they’re in my closet! Haha! But, if he does find them under the tree and starts shaking them…he’s not going to be able to figure it out.

    I put his Oakland Raiders lounge pants in a shoe box. The rest were DVD movies, but I put one in a big box by itself and stuffed packing peanuts all around it. The same with others, though in one box I packed 2 or 3 gifts, wrapped separately, but surrounded by packing peanuts and styrofoam. They’re not moving around at all! haha! I think I take that back after my dad, who would pack presents within other presents and try to be tricky.

    Now if only I could figure out how to wrap presents that are “seamless” like my dad. LOL He would wrap our presents at Christmas so that the paper seams lined up perfectly and you couldn’t find where to open it. He’s good at math and is a carpenter, so I think he spent HOURS wrapping them and measuring to line up the images and lines perfectly…just amazes me, even to this day, how he managed that.

  7. Taryn, one year I got hubby the nice watch he’d been hinting at and I did the box within a box within a box thing. That’s when I found out just how unsporting he is. He actually got ticked off before he got to the last box and refused to open any more. ROFL! On the other hand, the presents he gets me usually don’t even make it to the wrapping stage. He simply drags out the store bag from where he’s hidden it and drops it into my lap, all the while grumbling something like, “Here. Might as well go ahead and give you this and avoid the embarrassment cause I know you’re not going to like it.” This is his way of transferring the blame to me, like I’m forcing him to give it to me early because I’m sooo hard to please. The funny thing is, he’s never given me anything I hate or wanted to take back. But this is his excuse because there’s no way he could be that childish. Right? Right. ;o)

  8. Terry, keeping secrets is really hard. Especially from your children. They’ve got you and your husband pegged. They know you’re gonna give in. The only question is how soon. Too funny! But I can’t believe you don’t have an inquiring mind like I do. 🙂

  9. Hi Chasity! I’m glad I have another member added to Snoopers Anonymous. 🙂 I wasn’t sure if there were others like out with burning curiosities or not. Hey, you’re even more sneaky than I am though. I never even thought to check the receipts! Boy, am I slow. That would’ve kept me from sweating so much in trying to get into the presents. I’m sure my mama kept her receipts in her purse and that was forbidden territory. Even for a dyed in the wool snooper, I never would’ve ventured there. Too funny that your mother never knew you’d found the canister! 🙂

  10. Hi Taryn! Wow, an RWA membership. That’s one of the very best gifts you could get and it’s awesome that he knew that. Many husbands wouldn’t think that would be a good gift. I think it’s neat that you love surprising your hubby and kids. Playing Santa is fun. I enjoy doing that and seeing the surprised look on their faces. I remember when my youngest daughter was a senior in high school. We bought her a red pickup (which was what she wanted; I thought it was strange) and parked it in the driveway Christmas morning. Oh, the look on her face when she unwrapped the box that held the keys. Brought tears to my eyes and lump in my throat. Ahhh, those memories.

  11. I too as a child would sneak peeks at not only my presents but my brothers! LOL I can’t stand not knowing what is wrapped! And I love to give gifts wrapped all fancy. In fact, my daughter had to call me one Christmas to say our first grandson was still playing with all the colorful curling ribbon I put on his package and hadn’t opened any other package! I love making the presents so pretty (and hard to get into) that it makes the excitement last longer.

    When the kids got older and more curious instead of names on the name tags, I’d put numbers, colors, or a letter from the alphabet. Only I knew who was what number, color, or letter. That drove them crazy trying to figure out who had what package!

  12. Devon, congratulations on a new computer!! 🙂 I don’t have to close my eyes and imagine seeing that big grin on your face. I hear it in your voice. That’s an amazing gift to give a writer. I’ll expect some great stories to come out of that gift. I know you will. 🙂

    In the meantime, don’t fuss at hubby too much for wanting to spoil your surprises. It’s the kid in him. I used to give big hints to my mama and daddy about what me and my sister had bought. I couldn’t wait for them to open their gifts.

  13. Hi Paty, welcome to our Snoopers Anonymous Club! We’re growing by leaps and bounds. Yep, we’re people who can’t bear to have secrets kept from us. But we love to do it to others. Brilliant idea of putting numbers, colors, etc on the packages instead of names. I love it! 🙂 That’s what I should do this year. Thanks for the tip. The grandkids are so bad about counting the gifts and seeing who’s getting more. Makes it really hard to keep everything even when the cost of some are more than others. I’ve threatened to just get them one gift apiece, but don’t know if I can do that.

  14. Hi Linda, I’m not a snooper LOL. I like my surprises. Although I was seriously glad one year ago to know, thanks to ultrasound, the gender of our expected first grandchild so I could shop, shop, SHOP for months beforehand.

  15. Linda, I’m married to a terrific man. And like most men, there’s an overgrown kid hiding behind those devilish grins. :o) I love the new computer. 21 inch flat screen, bay-beee!!!

    I had an experience when I was very young that taught me to never, ever to even think about snooping. It was back when we were so poor we couldn’t afford to pay attention and only got one gift from Santa. I accidentally ran across the hiding place for my present one year. Honest, it was purely accidental. They had wedged it down in the center of a fold-up rollaway bed and we kids were playing hide and seek.

    This did two things. Told me there was no Santa Claus. Until then, I still believed. Secondly, my gift wasn’t what I’d been hoping for. So, I spent the days leading up to Christmas carrying the secret that I knew what I was getting and was disappointed. And now I knew who to blame. ;o)

  16. Hi Linda!

    Love your confession. I must admit that I’m a little snoopy, too. I remember hunting for all the presents, as well as shaking them under the tree. When I grew up and had kids of my own, I remembered how I would ferret out all of mom’s hiding places, and so I used the trunk of our car to hide the presents.

    Probably my most favorite memory is staying up Christmas eve — with all the decorations around me — and wrapping presents. I love that time.

    Great post, Linda.

  17. I’m with you in the Snooper Department, Linda! I could never wait as a kid. But, Chasity, you are PURE GENIUS! Why did I never think of looking for the receipts? LOL Wonder if my kids did that. Hmmm. As an adult, I would rather wait and enjoy the gifts with everyone else, though.

    But my husband can’t wait to give the gifts! He always ends up giving them ahead of time.

    I’m okay with opening gifts ahead of Christmas. I always let my kids open one every now and then and then half on Christmas Eve. That way they could enjoy the things they got and Christmas morning wasn’t an overload.

  18. i always had a really laid back approach to keeping my own children’s presents secret. I’d say, “If you hunt you’ll find them. If you find them then no surprises Christmas morning, so you decide if you want to be surprised.”
    Mostly they just didn’t snoop…or if they did, they never admitted it and I wouldn’t have cared if they had. Fine, ruin your surprise.
    I also told them that, since the gifts I seemed to come up with were universally lame, especially as they got older. Usually accompanied by a request for the receipt so they could exchange them, the most fun they’d have was the anticipation, so they might as well not wreck it.

  19. Hi Joyce, sounds like you had a very special Christmas growing up and still do. What a large family. Yeah, I remember what it was like when it came time to eat. I hated to be last. Times have certainly changed. Now, parents put the kids first and get them out of the way. I hear you about having to wash dishes. That job always befell me and my sister. I hated to tackle that huge mountain of dishes. Ugh! I sure don’t miss that part any. 🙂

  20. Tanya, well I think you might be a semi-snooper. Just depends on the circumstances. I don’t blame you know about wanting to know the gender of the first grandbaby. That’s really special. I can well imagine it was one of the best-dressed little tykes around. 🙂

  21. Devon, you are indeed married to a keeper. Wow, a 21 inch flat screen monitor! You won’t have trouble seeing anything, girl. Or remembering who’s your Santa. Or any excuse now not to keep those stories coming. You can type up a storm. Love a man with a devilish grin! 🙂

    Kay, Cheryl, and Mary, my new sisters!! Always love what you have to say. I’ll reserve two chairs for you in my Snoopers Anonymous Club. Mary, Mary I can believe you’re one of the outsiders. You who love to have fun and are so mischievous. You’ve missed out. Kay, my kids are the shakers. They love trying to guess what’s in the boxes just short of opening them. Me, I just sneak a peek and be done with it.

  22. Estella, some people like the surprise and some are just born to ruin it. Your name definitely goes on the “nice” side of Santa’s list. Lucky for you. I guess you can expect lots of gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. 🙂

  23. Hi Linda –
    Well, I had no idea you were a snooper! What a great confession. And sorry, but I like surprises, the smaller the box the better, but this year I think I’ll be getting a new computer. No new surprises this year – I’m working on an older 15 inch screen and it’s driving me crazy- all new internet is geared for wider screens.
    My kids would always ask for an “early” present. I’d allow them one but my daughter is very traditional and wants to wait until Christmas morning for the rest,(26) while my son would enjoy having them all early (29). My husband and I would open all our gifts AFTER the little ones went to bed on Christmas Eve – it’s a special tradition with just the two of us.
    Great eye-opening post!!

  24. Charlene, I hope you don’t think any less of me now that you know. 🙂 And another recipient of a new computer. Wow! You and Devon must’ve been very good girls this year. Maybe I’ll try it and see if it works for me, except I’m gonna have to wait ’till January to start working on it. I’ve already messed up this year. Rats! Love the tradition of you and your hubby exchanging gifts after the kids went to bed. Having that alone time and enjoying each other’s company is really nice.

  25. Snooper here Yes i too was a snooper now with my children i suspect them so i told them they have a new gift wrapping tape they sell only at Christmas and if it’s tampered with it will turn Red they bought that story for a while now i just find new hiding places the truck of the car works nice. However i never read the last page of a book until it’s time or there’s no use in me reading the book to me the most exciting part is in the middle if you know the ending the middle is kind of ruined.Confession time- I told my husband after this 1 year that i had to return just about everything he got me that every year after that i just wanted money to go to the after Christmas sell truth is I just got tired of returning things he did try though. I like the exchanging gifts after the kids are in bed I guess it would make Christmas Day more enjoyable to just to watch the excitment of the children that’s the best part for me.

  26. I can’t believe no one else thought to look for receipts. I got lucky in that respect. If they would have been hidden in mum’s purse, I would have been screwed. Her purse had everything you’d ever need, including the kitchen sink, so it would have taken hours worth of work to find anything in there!

  27. Are you sure you’re not channeling my thoughts? My sister and I did the same thing when we were little! There! You have my confession! How many rosaries do I have to say? LOL

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