I think it was my dad, who when I was growing up, instigated a Christmas present treasure hunt for some lucky person in the family on Christmas morning.  Often these presents were the odd-sized ones like bicycles or skis, or the really special ones, like something small and sparkly for mom, or something that had to be “given” on a piece of paper, like skiing lessons.  It was a group effort to help decipher the series of clues, occasionally written in rhyme, sometimes drawn as a diagram, sending the hunter up and downstairs, and even outside.  My grown siblings and I have a lot of funny shared memories of these treasure hunts, even if we can’t remember the presents of particular years anymore.

On Christmas morning, 2009, Santa took a page from my dad’s book.  Most of the presents were found where the kids would expect–under the tree, or in stockings, or clustered around the fireplace and on the nearby coffee table.  But one present was nowhere to be seen.  It was only after the unwrapping session ended that a small, folded piece of paper was brought to the attention of our 6-(almost 7!)-year-old.  The note had gotten lost among all of the other toys found in his stocking–the parachute men, the biting sharks puppets, the gyroscopes, and the Hotwheels.

Here is what it said:


Santa is sending you on a treasure hunt to find your present.  Follow the clues…

First Clue:

Check on the Fire.”

From the woodstove, a clue led him to the jingle bells on the piano.  From the bells, he was led to his coat pocket, and instructed by the next note to put on coat and boots to keep him warm while looking for the treasure.  The whole gang got into the act, and even grandpa, in his enthusiasm, had to be coached not to give too much “help.”

clue #2

grandpa helps read the clue

The last clue indicated that he should look outside and “Go up in the air.”  Hmmmm…

thinking it over...

To the tree! To the tree!

Up the ladder...

found it!

he can't stop smiling!

drumroll please!

How did Santa know?!

That night when I was putting L to bed, he said to me “Mom, I just really like Christmas.”

I asked “What do you like best about it?”

“I like the presents and the mysteries…”

and here I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but he explained that he liked the mysteries of not knowing what presents you might get, and having to figure things out– like putting Legos or other toys together–or going on a treasure hunt to find a present.  Then he asked what had become of his letter to Santa that listed his present requests (it might as well have been an epic, but we explained that S.C. might only deliver on 1 request, maybe 2) and he couldn’t remember writing a bow and arrow set on the list.  But he was sure he had thought of it, and somehow Santa just knew what he wanted.  That Santa, so smart and unpredictable!

I’m with my thoughtful son, I like the presents and mysteries of Christmas best too.


I’m almost done writing about Christmas here, but will save one last post for another kind of mystery, then I promise I will catch up to the new year!