That hardly seems fair!

I have this Christmas tradition of hiding gifts for my kids and leaving them a series of cryptic clues as a treasure hunt. On Christmas day when the rest of the western world is celebrating instant gratification by ripping open thinly wrapped gifts … my kids are deciphering clues. It may sound like a cruel trick, but they seem to enjoy it.

The intention was never to cause angst or withhold the fun. In fact, the intention is always to draw out the fun into a longer time span. We tend to be modest on the quantity of gifts we exchange. That fact is driven home each year by the many facebook posts of Christmas trees protruding from gift mountains. But, I digress. Our practice of modest gift exchange is rooted deeply in our family's experiences. I've written enough on that subject in the past.

Each year I have to raise the bar a little higher. My kids and their spouses are all smarter than me, so it has become somewhat of a personal challenge as well. It takes me, on average, eight times as long to make a treasure hunt as it does for them to accomplish it. This year it took them a bit over an hour to find their presents. You can do the math on the preparation time.

This year's hunt included a field trip off the homestead. That was a first. This year we had a couple of relatives along for the ride which was also a first. They readily engaged in the hunt, but they may think we are all crazy by now. Verum, notum est.

The part about the Christmas treasure hunt that brings the most pleasure to me is seeing the kids pooling their cooperative knowledge and wit. It is an exercise that builds the family bond in a fun, low stress way. It also breaks up the predictability of Christmas morning.

So, I have included a picture of their first clue for your pleasure here. You may enjoy it, or you may think I'm a borderline Grinch. The best case scenario is, you may get some fresh ideas for your own family. Who knows, you may have some latent crazy in your system that just needed an outlet.

In all, I am wishing each of you a Merry Christmas. Yes, I know it's the day after, but it should linger if it is real in your heart.