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Christmas was coming up fast in our house in the late 60’s. With five sneaky kids underfoot I’m sure my mother and father were at their wits end trying to find hiding places for all the goodies. 

This was the year of the flocked tree and the colored light wheel spinning round-n-round casting four beautiful colors upon our tree. If I remember correctly, the colors were green, red, blue, and gold – or rather a sickly orangey-yellow. Oh well, we all thought the color-wheeled tree was gorgeous! 

Presents were bought and hidden away, but not as well as they should have been. Actually, if my mother and father had been smarter they would have been stashed at  someone else’s house – preferably far far away and someone we didn’t know. 

There were four of us, Naomi, Debbie, Lindy, and Chip. The fifth one, Tish, was way to young to partake in this adventure, and couldn’t be trusted to not tattle. I don’t know how we did it, but we found those presents hidden away in the attic that had access only from Chips room. I was the good child- the middle child – and was probably just a bystander, but I am sure the others will beg to differ. 

My mother worked night duty (11pm-7am) as an RN at that time and always locked herself away from all the noise and chaos in Chip’s room during daylight hours to sleep, so we didn’t have the time to pilfer too much in those presents. One day while we were all at school she decided she better get those hidden gifts wrapped and under the tree while we were not underfoot. 

Evidently she didn’t notice we had discovered the loot or she didn’t mention it. She probably didn’t notice,  being sleep deprived after working her night time shift at the hospital and taking care of the house, a husband, and five nosey kids in her spare time. 

When we got in from school and saw all those presents wrapped under our colored-wheeled tree our eyes lit up and we saw our chance to explore. We knew there was a tape recorder for Chip in that pile somewhere! 

Late at night after Mother had left for work and Daddy and Tish were sound asleep, we three girls (I’m not sure if Chip was involved in this scheme or not) would sneak across the hall from our room and carefully peel the tape off the ends of the presents until we found that tape recorder. Of course we found a lot of other should-be surprises while investigating. Then we would play with that recorder and record our voices while trying to be quiet as mice. What a chance we were taking! 

That was the year I discovered I was getting a chain belt for Christmas. Remember those belts with all the little medallions hooked together and you wore it slung way down on your hips – of which I had none of at that time of my life. Everyone who was important in my class had one and now I would too. What a fashion statement we made. 


Christmas morning we had very few surprises but we could act the part with the best of them! 


About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

13 responses »

  1. Elle, this post brought back so many memories of that time. Loved it. :O)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I carefully unwrapped and rewrapped my gifts one year when I was about 8. Christmas was so depressing that year – no surprises, no anticipation. I never did it again and to this day I won’t even shake! I’m such a wuss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are wrong about one thing. I do remember playing with that reel-to-reel recorder. I was not a tattle tale. I just told that story last week. 😋

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother always hid our gifts at my aunt’s house and I wasn’t brave enough to break and enter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mother should have known better. I always threatened my kids I would take stuff back if they peaked. I’m sure they did anyway though I want to think I was better at hiding stuff than my parents were! Have a Happy New Year Kate! ~Elle

      Liked by 1 person


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