I know that one of the strongest temptations there is, is to snoop around to find out what Santa has hidden away in the closet, under the bed, up in the attic behind that old trunk, etc. Seems like the more we want that certain something, the more desperately we need to confirm that Santa has delivered the goods. I know that this temptation is not restricted to children. I know a lot of adults that are thought to be well adjusted, well balanced, reasonably intelligent, and fully responsible and well grounded grownups, taking care of their families, their careers, and all the aspects of their lives. To the world they appear to have it all under control. But once a year that deep dark secret rears it's ugly head and feelings of uncertainty, self doubt and insecurity come to the surface. THE SNOOPER returns Have I been good this year...Did I drop sufficient hints...will the stores sell out before Santa gets me one...and so on and so forth. The mind can be relentless, dredging up doubts and tormenting us with one scenario after another where we don't get that special gift that we need so badly. Here's my story and it is what cured me forever from snooping at Christmas time. Of all the lessons I've learned in my time, none stand out any better than this one. I'll always remember the feeling and I will never, EVER snoop again.....Well, not unless it is just absolutely necessary, that is. I was eleven years old. My science teacher that year had led us through some simple but interesting experiments in class and I was completely enthralled with the subject. I had done everything but come out and tell my parents point blank that I wanted a chemistry set for Christmas. The first time I saw the Christmas movie about the kid that wanted the BB gun I thought of how badly I'd wanted that chemistry set. It was the Webster's very definition of the word "obsession" My mother never worked outside the home so I knew I was gonna have to be pretty stealthy in my attempts to snoop. Dad worked a rotating shift so it was going to be easy to get around him but Mom was always home so I needed a plan. She came into my room one day about 4 days before Christmas and told me she had to go to the store. Dad was at work and she was expecting a call from him so she told me to stay in the house and listen for the phone. Eurika!! I was running out of time and this might be my last opportunity to check in their bedroom. I'd already covered the rest of the house and was in a bit of a panic because I hadn't found my chemistry set anywhere. What had I done wrong, were they having trouble finding it? Did they decide that I wasn't old enough? AAARRRGGGHHHH! As soon as Mom cleared the driveway I ran in to the master bedroom and looked in her closet. Too much chaos in there to make heads or tails of anything and I didn't dare touch anything for fear I couldn't get it back in there the was it was. I hit Dad's closet next. Not in there for sure. I dropped to the floor and looked under the bed. There were several shopping bags under there and the second one I pulled out held my dream. I took it out of the bag and held it out so I could see what all was in it. ZOWIE!! it was the DELUXE set. Had everything I wanted and more. Even a small microscope. I wanted to open the box but it was sealed so I just put it back in the bag and slid it back under the bed where I'd found it. Now my dad is the worlds trickiest trick wrapper. You NEVER knew what a package from him might contain. If it looked like a shoe box it could well be a new wallet or a bicyle, or even a train set. There were no rules for him and his imagination was infinite and creative. Christmas morning rolled around and when breakfast was over we all went into the living room and gathered 'round the tree. Our little family Christmas was always special. We made our ornaments out of colored foil and tinsel and mom would pop up a lot of popcorn and we'd string it up and make a rope to spiral up the tree (We quit doing that when Mom saw a cockroach on the tree one time. Mom didn't much dig cockroaches) We all wrapped our presents with brightly colored wax paper and instead of name tags we would write the persons name with white glue and then sprinkle different colored glitter on it. I te'yall that Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell couldn't have conspired to come up with a better Christmas than the ones I had as a kid. So now I'm down to the last present under the tree. Dad had intentionally put it way in the back so's it'd be the last thing I could get my greedy little mitts on. It was a box that had held a small radio originally. Not nearly the correct size for even the smallest chemistry set. I was about to freak out. What happened? Did they somehow find out that I snooped and decided not to let me have it? My agony was complete. I picked it up and gave it a shake and tried to smile at my parents and feign excitement but I didn't feel excited at all. My world was about to end. As I tore away the paper and saw the radio box I began to recover and gather some small hope that this was one of his famous trick wraps. I opened the box and removed some wadded up news paper and pulled out a small piece of wood with a picture of my chemistry set taped to it. As vividly as I remember the powerful assault of guilt, remorse, relief and a feeling of smallness and dishonesty, all together I just can not find the words to adequately describe it. I tried to act surprised. I whooped and hollered and jumped for joy. I don't know to this day if they bought it or not. I don't know if they ever found out what I did. But every year at Christmas time, even now, I think back about that and feel awful. I cheated my parents. I cheated them out of my honest reaction of excitement and surprise. The very thing they wanted was my reaction to their fine gift. What they got was a halfhearted effort from a selfish twerp that didn't deserve such a fine gift. I cheated myself. I cheated myself out of the thrill of the surprise. The very best part of receiving a great gift is the slam you get from the shock and delight. I ruined all that by snooping and learning ahead of time what I was getting. It put a hole in my Christmas that year but I DID learn my lesson. By now my eye lashes have all grown back, the scars on my arms and face have mostly disappeared and the chemistry set and all the experiments, successful and failure alike, are relegated to the distant past. I had a lot of fun with it and didn't burn the house down or blow up the dog. But the true value I got from that gift was not about chemistry at all. I learned that snooping at Christmas is the wrong thing to do. Just wait and what ever it turns out to be doesn't matter. What matters is the love you share with your family and friends as you celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. God bless every one. Have a Merry Christmas!!