When I was in first grade, the teacher got everyone in the class a thoughtful gift, which we opened in class the last day before Christmas break. I didn’t tear into the wrapping quite as voraciously as some students did. The first one to pull the gift free from its packaging, held it up and triumphantly showed it off.
It was a drink cup with a Santa Claus drawn on it and our faces placed on the Santa. The Santas and the Merry Christmas message were under the plastic, which was pretty innovative for the late ’70’s. Our faces were cut out of the class picture by hand and glued on. It must have taken a lot of time. Miss Dobes, as she was named then, remains one of my all time favorite teachers.
Back to the unwrapping. I don’t know why, but I was so very disappointed that the surprise had been ruined by the quick opener kid, so much so, that I lambasted him for it. I think I was near tears. I sure laid a guilt trip on that kid. Other kids and the teacher backed me up, perhaps just because I had felt so strongly about it and they empathized with me. He didn’t really do anything wrong, though.
I’m still not really sure why it bothered me that much, but I don’t like having a surprise ruined to this day. I guess I’m still a kid at heart. I’ve known people who will tell you not to worry about telling them all about a movie, even if they plan to see it. They don’t care if they know what’s going to happen. I can’t understand that. I think most of us are more like me that day in first grade. That’s why we say, “Spoiler alert!” in conversation or on social media.
What is it about surprises? Partly, it’s the inner child thing. We like to be delighted, or to have a moment of excitement, something beyond the normal everyday goings on.
I think it’s also a very genuine experience to be surprised in a good way. There’s no time to build it up, or knock it down. There’s no pretense, no spin, no analysis. You just live the moment. You feel it. You savor it, and remember it with a smile.