Johnny was restless all night. It was Christmas Eve and his parents had their house decorated since Thanksgiving. They had the entire inside and outside traced with lights. On the front lawn were glowing reindeer, blinking gnomes hid inside every brush, they even set up a projector screen to remind the neighborhood about some of the best ever Christmas movies (with no sound just for nostalgia) reflected on the garage doors. To say they loved the Christmas Season was an understatement!

Johnny laid in bed too excited to go to sleep. Every few seconds his forehead lit up with a red glow, then blue and then a green. The more the lights from the outside of the house filled his room through his window, the more they magically got into his heart. Every flashing light made his heart beat faster.

His eyes never moved though. They remained transfixed on the wall. He was staring at the clock!

It was 11:55pm, and in his family they had a tradition that always let them open at least ONE gift at 12 midnight!

“But it has never worked in the 12 years I’ve been walking this planet!” Johnny would explain the same sentiment every year to his friends at school.

By the time his family would open one, the excitement takes over them, then 30 minutes later there are Christmas wrapping paper all over the the downstairs living room, in the kitchen and in the dogs’ cage. It usually looks like a tornado touched down in their house. And like being awakened from a spell, the family would look around whispering ‘What happened here?‘ Every year Johnny responds by slowly nodding his head surveying the damage and reflecting on their work saying ‘Christmas Spirit happened.’

Hey Johnny, you asleep?” Johnny’s little brother, 6 year old Bradley, asked him from the shadows of the room.

Without removing his gaze Johnny replied in a very matter of fact tone like a general speaking to his troops, “Just get ready to move…it’s almost time. Follow my lead.” Johnny squinted his eyes. It helped him focus more deeply.

It was 11:59pm and Johnny had positioned himself on top of his bed in his pretend racing blocks; his superman sheets taking the brunt of his imagination.

“Reaaaaddddy……steaaaaddddy…….NOW!” Johnny shot out of his room rumbling down the hallway with his younger brother in tow. They must pass their first obstacle. Daddy! Daddy usually cuts them off and pushes them out of the way so he can get downstairs first. One year Daddy stacked a pile of laundry, to the height of and in front of their bedroom door so as they opened the door the dirty laundry would fall on them and their screaming would wake him up. The first one downstairs can open their gift first!

But this year Johnny was ready! Earlier in the summer he found out what he called “some good intel about dad!”

“What?” little Brad asked. Not knowing he’s entering into the mind of a war room general.

“Dad’s deathly afraid of snakes!” He found this out because this summer he got a pet snake (non-poisonous of course…that was a dad negotiation thing). So all summer long Johnny used his chore money to stockpile about 30 fake snakes with different colors and different sizes.

What Bradley didn’t know (because the general couldn’t leave it up to a rookie to do) was that after dad went to sleep, Johnny went into the stealth part of his mission. He hung fake snakes from the top of his dad’s bedroom door frame. He rolled out the aquarium his pet snake was in and place it in the middle of the hallway facing dad’s bedroom. He placed snakes all over the floor in between the aquarium and the bedroom and had some snakes hanging down from the aquarium like they were escaping.

Johnny knew daddy was tired because he purposefully tired him out with all day horsing around. Good plan. He knew dad would need an alarm clock to get him up.

Johnny even dropped a seed into dad’s mind asking him, “Would you mind if I got more snakes to keep company with the one I have?

Absolutely NOT!” dad quickly replied.

Fear-activation complete, Johnny said to himself.

So as Johnny and Bradley were screaming down the hallway they heard other screams. They ran pass dad’s room giggling uncontrollably but Johnny took the time to look in dad’s direction, slow down and wink then continued and screamed back “they’re all fake!

After all the commotion, Dad walked through the kitchen door and since Johnny was the first one down, he got to open one of his gifts first. Of course he picked the one that looked like it would be the game system he was eyeing and dropped numerous hints about. He grabbed the gift ripped open the package but there was nothing inside except an old dictionary. He grabbed more gifts with his name on it but every gift had no toys inside. There was one more but at least this one had weight to it. Johnny ripped it open and a jack-in-the-box shot out (frightened him half to death) with rocks on the inside.

Dad is now rolling on the floor laughing. “Got ya!

Not funny…ok you got me! Where are my gifts!” turning his head towards Bradley, Johnny whispered, “This is why we have to plan every year.

“You’ll get your real gifts after you clean up those snakes from in front of my room!”

“By the way Dad why did you walk through the kitchen this morning?” Johnny said with a smirk on his face.

“I decided to climb out my bedroom window to catch some fresh air!” Dad squinted back.

You can see their mental wheels turning.

The planning begins from first day of January, but for now they will enjoy the season and their Christmas Spirit!




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