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I was at working in my second grade classroom this afternoon, and while the children were having a writing test, the main teacher corrected class papers and I got a pencil and wrote a memory I am going to share with you. I intended for it to be an example of the narrative-personal style we were testing them on.

The Year I Spoiled My Christmas

It was the Christmas of my ninth year, and my Grandmother’s Christmas box to our family had arrived. My mother has all three of us excitedly gathered around her as she pulled out presents for my little sister, and little brother, and then mine. Grandma always gave me a wonderful, carefully selected book and, being an avid reader even at nine years old, I could hardly wait to see what she had chosen for me.

I examined my gift. It was wrapped in simple sheets of ordinary white tissue paper, and tied with a single strip of red ribbon. I liked how heavy it felt in my hands. A good thick book! Boy, it was going to be hard to wait for two whole weeks until Christmas! I visited the tree, and my gift often. My siblings and I liked to stand there and count the gifts from the relatives that had our names on them. I liked to pick up Grandma’s mysterious gift. I tried to press the thin tissue paper down on the part I thought was probably the title, in case I could make out any information. No yield. Sigh. After I tried all surfaces of the book to no avail, I came up with what I thought was a clever strategy – worrying the tape holding the ends together until, perchance, it would give way, by accident, of course. I ignored any thought that this was not a good idea. It was MY present, after all. If I knew what it was I could enjoy the title and think about it happily.

Finally, my way won. I was able to carefully slide the book enough outside of the paper to see the title. Yes. A good book! I knew I would like it, but after I closed the gift back up, something had changed. The shiny unknown glow of that present was gone. My grandmother would not have liked me peeking, and I knew my Mom would not. That special Christmas was so spoiled for me that I still remember it vividly, even after a whole lot of years.

On my way home from school, I pondered the little story I had written to share with the class, and then I realized the wider aspect of human nature here. We all want to know our future, to know ahead what is coming, to be prepared, and not to have to wait. But part of all of our lives that is good and wonderful is that very mystery…the future. If we really knew everything about what is in store for us, what people want to surprise us with, and what God has for us, the excitement and anticipation would be very gone from our lives. Just ask this very experienced second-grader.

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