Christmas Creeper

As a child, you could guarantee that I would accomplish any task that someone in authority told me I couldn’t. Any issued challenge aroused in me a curiously dialed up my ingenuity, creativity, and raw determination well beyond my years. While my life contains many of these examples, one of my favorites came from Christmas day in 1992.

The house lay in a deep, comforting silence, punctuated only by the occasional creak of ancient timber settling into its bones. My father, tall and imposing even when relaxed, surveyed his latest creation with a paternal pride that seemed to fill the room.

“I think this should keep our little escape artist at bay,” he said, his voice a low rumble of satisfaction.

My mother, her brown hair catching the dim light as she turned, chuckled softly. “You’ve outdone yourself. Not even Houdini could get through this one.”

“Let’s hope so.” Dad glanced at the clock, “We better hit the hay before our boy decides it’s showtime.”

“Agreed,” Mom said, flicking off the last light, and their footsteps retreated down the hall.

Meanwhile, I nestled beneath a comforter in the next room, decidedly not asleep. My large blue eyes, mirroring the wintry sky outside, were open and alert. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth, an expression that harbored both mischief and certainty. 

It was five o’clock, just before dawn’s first blush. The perfect time. With care that belied my nine years, I rolled onto my side and eyed the nightstand. I eased out of bed, and the mattress springs releasing a faint sigh under my weight. The carpet felt comforting against my feet as I crouched, careful not to make a sound.

My clothes, chosen with practicality, lay in wait like a soldier’s uniform before battle. Jeans and a comfortable button-up formed a neat pile. I slipped into them with the ease of a shadow sliding across a wall. My every move deliberate and silent as I threaded my belt through the loops, the metal buckle whispering as it closed.

In the quiet of my room, My thoughts danced with anticipation. I imagined the expressions that would soon play across my parents’ faces. A grin, unrestrained and full of youthful triumph, spread across my caramel skin. Today, I would be the master of my destiny. The trap, whatever ingenious contraption my dad had devised, wouldn’t stand a chance.

I knew the game well. Every Christmas morning was a chess match between me and Dad. And this year, I felt certain, was my turn to say ‘checkmate.’ With a final glance around my room, I readied myself for the challenge that awaited on the other side of the door.

The room lay still, the only sound being my breathing — steady and hushed as a secret whispered between conspirators. My eyes, wide and blue as the winter sky just before dawn, scanned the darkened space around him. The nightstand, a sentinel of oak, or something like that,  offered up its gifts for my quest. Fingers brushed against the cold steel of the scissors, and I secured them at my waist with the solemnity of a knight arming for battle.

“Gotcha,” I murmured to myself, the words barely escaping his lips. I could outsmart Dad’s traps. I had to.

My hand swept beneath the bed, searching, until it encountered the straight edge of a ruler. A spark of inspiration ignited in my mind, and I wielded it with the care one might afford a delicate instrument, or perhaps, in my imagination, a sword from tales of old.

“Every knight needs a sword,” I whispered, a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth.

Approaching the door, I tested it gently, easing it open just enough to spy the string; it barely appeared, nearly invisible in the dim light, a filament of spider silk laid by an inventive spider — Dad, the trapweaver. My small hands, nimble and deft, reached through the crack, and my fingertips danced along the string until the ruler could grasp it.

“Come on,” I urged silently, coaxing the string closer, closer.

A snip and the wire severed, the sound muted, lost to the thick silence of the house. The bells, once a clinking herald of intrusion, now dangled impotent from the doorknob as I gently lifted them free with the ruler.

“Sorry, Dad,” I thought, a surge of pride inflating my chest. “This time I’m one step ahead.”

My heartbeat quickened as I clutched the bells, the cool metal whispering secrets of victory. I eased out of my room, the door yielding without protest. My eyes sparkled in the dim pre-dawn light, a mischievous glint mirroring the thrill of my scheme.

“Now for the payback,” I murmured, my voice not louder than a breath. The next door beckoned, an unwitting participant in my counterplot. With careful movements, I wound the string around the doorknob, each wrap a silent pledge of retribution. The bells dangled, poised for chaos. “At least I won’t have to wait for everyone else to get up.”

Time trudged by, each minute stretching longer than the last. I nestled atop my stocking, a sentinel awaiting the dawn, peanuts cradled in my palm. My mind raced with scenarios, anticipation simmering beneath my calm exterior.

Then it struck—the chime of reckoning. CLANG! CLANG!

“What?” Mom’s voice pierced the quiet house, confusion lacing her tone. I remained still, a smirk playing on my lips. I heard the shuffle of feet, and the creak of floorboards as my father hustled into the living room.

“Joyce, was that—Cree!” Dad’s voice cut through the air, sharp with realization.

There sat me, serenity embodied amidst the morning uproar, casually nibbling on peanuts. My blue eyes met my father’s, a silent taunt in the exchange. Victory tasted sweet, and it wasn’t just the nuts.

In the stillness that followed the commotion, a small voice pierced the silence.

“Did Santa take Cree?” Kadi’s question floated from her room, tinged with sleep and worry.

Mom exchanged a look with Dad, her eyes wide with dawning comprehension. The noise-triggering trap, meant to be a playful deterrent, had backfired spectacularly.

“Nothing’s wrong, sweetie,” Mom called back reassuringly. “It was just a little prank your brother set up.”

Dad crouched beside me, his furrowed brows softening as he took in the sight of his son. My blond hair glinted in the faint light filtering through the window, my expression a blend of satisfaction and innocence.

“Looks like you got us good, huh?” Dad said, mustering a chuckle despite the early hour.

I shrugged, a small smile tugging at my lips. I knew my parents might rethink their tactics next year. No more noise-triggering traps that could startle and wake the whole household—especially not ones a clever nine-year-old could turn against them.

“Next time, we’ll stick to something simpler,” Dad whispered, ruffling my hair.

“Like a note on the door saying ‘Do Not Disturb Until Christmas Morning,'” I suggested, the idea blossoming in my mind.

“Exactly,” Dad agreed, smiling. “Let’s make sure everyone gets a good night’s rest on Christmas Eve.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.