By Katie Choi
When I was around 15 or 16, I got the most beautiful turquoise, pea coat for Christmas. It had big buttons down the front that just made me feel so fancy. I hadn’t ever had a coat like that before. I had seen it at a little store in my hometown, and I wanted it so bad! And on Christmas day when I opened up my gift, I felt like my life was complete. I’d made it. I’d been given my greatest desire.
Another reason why this coat felt so special to me is that it was a complete surprise. You see, at the time, I was a gift snoop. I knew all the likely spots where my mom would hide presents. Under the bed, in her bedroom closet, in the spare closet. And I would look and snoop and try to figure out everything I was getting ahead of time. I would jiggle boxes and rearrange tissue paper in gift bags in presents that were under the tree just in case maybe I had missed one. I’ll go ahead and say the thing you are all may be thinking, “What a little twerp!” Trust me, I know.
At that time, we had some really good family friends who lived about two minutes away. It was on this same Christmas Day that they called to see if they could pop over for a quick visit. When they got there, their son handed me this beautifully wrapped box with a big bow on top. I had already opened up all my gifts, but from the looks of the box, a pea coat could fold up pretty nicely in there. When he handed it to me, I immediately knew what it was.
I wish that I could close this story out by saying that the gift of the surprise pea coat cured me from my snooping habits. And while my memory does fail me a bit on Christmas’s after that, I imagine I kept up with my snooping antics to some degree. But the memory of opening that pea coat has never left me. I remember feeling a lot of gratitude for my mom. She gave me something that I really wanted, and she knew me well enough to hide it at our friend’s house so I could enjoy a big surprise moment. I felt undeserving of such a wonderful gesture. Undeserving but so aware of my mom’s love for me.
While I won’t ever be able to justify that bad snooping behavior, these days I can appreciate the joy in an unexpected gift. It was the ‘magic’ of Christmas time that everyone always talks about. The memory has served as a gift that has kept on giving to me through the years. For that, I am grateful.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.