December 13, 2012

Publisher's Notebook: Quest to find Christmas presents

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Recently we’ve noticed our grandkids will slip off from the rest of the family when they are visiting and become amazingly quiet. It is then that we know they are undertaking a stealth mission to find their Christmas presents.

Searching out Christmas presents is a time-honored tradition for any young child, just like dropping and breaking the expensive vase on the table or making stick figures on the walls with a permanent magic marker. Kids can’t resist the temptation when they know there are presents in the house.

But let’s face it: Parents and grandparents usually don’t do a very good job of hiding presents. It’s too much trouble. We’re too tired from work and all that Christmas shopping. In our case, they simply were placed in a back bedroom closet, easy pickings for an inquisitive child.

I am certain that my grandkids, as highly intelligent as they are, have taken a complete inventory of everything in our house. They’ve put everything in four critical categories: movable and immovable, edible and non edible. I know that because I watch as they go on reconnaissance missions as soon as their little feet come in the door.

The first thing they search out is food. They open up the kitchen cabinets, drawers and the refrigerator to make sure their favorite snacks are in plentiful supply.

I’ve seen them pull up a chair or a stool to climb up on the kitchen counter so they could reach high up in the cabinets, which amazed and scared me because they were just learning to walk. My grandkids are highly athletic as well. Now, they just tell Papaw and Nana to get their snacks for them.

With the food needs assured, the grandkids then begin scouring the premises in search of fun, which can mean anything from making a playhouse out of an old box, watching videos on the iPad or playing hide and seek with Papaw. Where do they want to hide? Right in closet with all the Christmas presents. No, the grandparents aren’t highly intelligent.

The fun takes different forms each visit and usually involves a mess to clean up afterwards.

With such advanced grandchildren, it was inevitable they would find the Christmas presents. Can’t leave them in the car because they play in there as well.

Kids today have it much easier than we did in many aspects, including the relative ease of finding presents. It seemed much harder when I was growing up. It wasn’t possible to hide presents in our closet because, with eight in the family, the closets were filled to the brim with clothes or canned goods.

My parents also had many more places on the homestead to hide stuff, including a barn or smokehouse. I couldn’t even begin to explain to my grandkids the many uses and purposes of a smokehouse. Or an outhouse. We had one of those of as well at many of the places where I grew up.

When we lived at Mt. Victory on KY 192 between London and Somerset in 1968 when I was six, the outhouse was just past the smokehouse, which made it very convenient for us to search out our Christmas presents.

We’d use the pretext of needing to use the bathroom so we could make a detour to the smokehouse and look for our goodies. My parents never saw so many gastrointestinal issues with their children as they did that Christmas.

But to those who grew up in more-modern surroundings and aren’t familiar with an outhouse, it features certain drawbacks. Many drawbacks. Basically it was just a poorly-built shed over a hole in the ground that served as a bathroom.

An outhouse was a difficult place to do business, especially in the dead of winter. Winters seemed so much colder back then, by the way. We’d have to sit on a cold, splintery piece of wood while the bitter wind blew through the cracks, literally.

We’d scamper back to the house with our four cheeks red from the cold, but not before stopping for a quick reconnaissance mission in the smokehouse.

We were successful in finding our presents that Christmas, but I can’t say we were highly intelligent.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
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