Reliving your childhood memories – many of us do it don’t we? Whether it’s learning how to ride a bike, swimming in a stream or at this time of the year (22 December), looking in your parents’ cupboards and wardrobes in the hope of finding one or two parcels with your name on. Of course the fun is completely lost if you find them and you are even more disappointed if you find them not only unwrapped but laid bare, out of their plastic carrier bags, completely exposed to prying eyes.
In the same way that eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves, children who seek and find their Christmas presents have no surprises in their sack!
No, it is the hunt of the quarry that primes the senses and peaks the curiosity.
So it was with great diligence I not only push the bags of carefully chosen gifts to the very back of the cupboard, conceal them with an assortment of shoe-filled bags and hang various coats in front of them; but I also push two very heavy boxes of books in front of the firmly closed cupboard door. So by the time they have pushed open the bedroom door (this too is now permanently closed so the noise of it dragging across the carpet is my first alarm bell that sounds, warning me a son is snooping around) and started to shift the very heavy wedged in boxes from the front of the cupboard door, I can easily leap into action, bound up the stairs and cut them off at the pass, preventing them from reaching the inner sanctum of my wardrobe and thus the treasure trove of Christmas presents.
I patted myself on the back, there have been no conspiratorial whisperings between my sons (one of the few times they actually co-operate rather than try to annihilate one another!) and no sudden changes of mind as to what they put in their letter to Father Christmas that has long since been sent up the chimney!
But wait, the lack of surreptitious sneaking and furtive festive foraging seems somewhat absent from my sons’ daily routine. No more the ‘wait until mum takes the rubbish out/brushes her teeth/talks on the phone/etc’; no more saying goodnight early and angelically agreeing to wash the dirty bits and brush teeth without supervision so they have autonomy upstairs affording them plenty of time to rummage in the one remaining wardrobe whose doors have become suspiciously difficult to shut fully.
No, there is definitely something afoot that makes me wonder if they have passed this rather congenial phase of childhood adventure, that delightful derring-do of devious digging around in search of the booty. I recall my searching and exploration continued well into my late childhood years, but then today’s children are so much more mature than those of us from the sweet 60’s and 70’s.
But my inquisitive mind was soon put out of its misery with a single shot and the ardour of my once perfectly primed deflection that has been an annual pre-requisite to deviate my sons away from all hiding places was punctured, deflated and floored with a somewhat perfunctory piece of detective work that would have been nothing less than science fiction in my day.
No more rifling through long heavy winter coats that hide all manner of objects in their hanging folds, or poking around on top shelves amongst the dust covered shoe boxes and photo albums.
No, those dark recesses of my parents’ wardrobes have been usurped by an electronic interloper; with just a press of a button the cupboard door is flung open, the long overcoats thrown to one side and the contents of bags and boxes unceremoniously exposed in excruciating cruelty as the eBay buying history is seen in minute detail.
Call me old fashioned but now that sense of danger as you try to sneak into your parents’ room undetected has been stripped bare, haven’t we lost an element of the Christmas magic?
Next year I won’t just barricade the cupboard door from snooping sons, I will also have to conceal the presents from wandering fingers and eyes!