When I was little, Christmas Day usually involved opening presents with my parents and brother at home, before making the long journey to my grandparents’ house. And by long journey, I mean two streets over from my house.
Every year, my family followed roughly the same routine. My cousin Lauren and I were elected to pass out everyone’s gifts like little
servants elves, and then we all opened them at the same time. After presents, we’d eat a tasty lunch of warm ham, soft rolls, and Grandma’s baked “cheese and macaroni” (as she calls it.)
As respectable as lunch was, my true interest lied with the desserts. Each Christmas, Grandma’s laundry room would turn into a veritable museum of sweets, with her washer and dryer serving as a display table of brownies and candies and pies. (Oh, my!)
It was every kid’s dream.
Unfortunately, the adults limited us poor, inferior children to two desserts apiece. As an adult, I now understand why people might want to avoid herds of sugar-crazed, chocolate-covered children climbing the walls and swinging from the ceiling fans; as a little kid, a limit of two desserts was akin to cruel and unusual punishment.
And I was not going to stand for that kind of treatment any longer.
One year, after lunch, Lauren and I headed to one of the extra bedrooms to play. Once we were alone, we paced the floors, thinking. We wanted more dessert. We needed more dessert. We just weren’t sure how to get our hands on it.
We brainstormed our options.
And then inspiration struck.
Lauren and I both had play strollers for our baby dolls, and we worked quickly to buckle our babies into their seats, even lovingly placing blankets over their laps. Then, we casually sauntered into the living room, meeting the glances of our family members as they paused in their conversations to admire us. We smiled sweetly, fully playing up the part of two cute little girls with their dolls.
“Just on a walk with our dollies!” we sang, oh-so-innocently.
We continued to stroll through the kitchen until we arrived safely, and unquestioned, in the laundry room. Like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, we frantically grabbed at fudge and cookies and candy, stuffing them in the strollers, under baby dolls, probably even in our pockets – anywhere that they wouldn’t be seen.
Then, just as nonchalantly as before, we wandered back through the living room, forcing ourselves to walk slowly. We smiled pleasantly, but not too excitedly, so as to not arouse suspicion. Soon, we were back in the bedroom. Our plan had worked. We were alone with the desserts.
And we scarfed it down like deranged animals. Or just deranged human children.
Not satisfied by the first round (or pound) of chocolate, we repeated this process a few times. Each time, our “casual” behavior grew more and more erratic.
“Just on a walk with our dollies!” we screeched, our eyes wide-open and unblinking from a sugar rush. If an adult looked at us oddly, we grinned in a psychotic manner and gestured clumsily at our dolls. Nothing to see here, folks. Just some children taking their dolls on a walk!
It wasn’t until our fourth or fifth trip through the living room that our parents finally narrowed their eyes at us. “What are you girls up to?” they asked, their voices full of suspicion. “You’re not going in there to get sweets, are you?”
“Noooo!” we replied in fake, squeaky voices, because kids are terrible liars. With demented smiles still plastered on our faces, we made panicky U-turns with our strollers and veered back to the bedroom. Obviously, the grown-ups were on to us. Even in our chocolate-induced delirium, we knew better than to press our luck.
For our parents’ sakes, I’d like to say they figured us out and prevented us from doing this at future holiday gatherings. But that’d be a lie. We repeated this devious and greedy plot for a few years without ever being caught in the act.
Unfortunately, our grandparents did figure out our secret when they eventually rearranged the furniture in that bedroom and discovered a massive pile of empty candy wrappers under the bed. Basically, we were clever enough to secretly steal large amounts of food, but not smart enough to get rid of the evidence.