A Christmas Tale

Published December 21, 2017

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a column. It’s not for lack of topics as my two beautiful boys keep me on my toes. I keep promising myself that I will get back in the groove of weekly (or at least monthly columns)… not only to preserve the crazy moments with my boys, but because I get so much feedback from readers who enjoy them.

So this week, I’m writing another Hoffman Christmas story. If any of you kept up with these articles over the years, you know that Samuel and I battled it out each Christmas to see if he could find his gifts before Christmas and how clever I could be at hiding them. He was this little ball of mischief from the time he could move, rolling to the Christmas tree and pulling bows off packages before he could even walk. He’s been a sneaky elf his entire life, and the Samuel stories quickly turned into one of our fondest Christmas memories and traditions.

This year was completely different. His best friend Sara became the object of his Christmas mischief. The two of them were absolutely adorable together… stealing each other’s phones for clues, rummaging through cars for hidden gifts, torturous tickle fights for confessions. Every time she came to the house, I hugged her and whispered, “I’m so glad he’s your problem now.” We three joked about the new tradition, and I happily left gifts on closet shelves and wasn’t worried.

Then one day I hear “MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM from the top of stairway.” This wasn’t his usual bellow; I knew something was up. My radar kicked in and instead of yelling back, I peeked around the corner so I could see his face and learn what was behind the shrill. [If you also remember, Samuel’s face gives him away every time. I needed to see that face, not just hear what he had to say.]

He was beat red and grinning ear-to-ear. I knew as sure as Santa lives at the North Pole that my little mischievous elf was back. He started laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face. He could only muster enough breath to spit out, “I don’t even have to try!”

Samuel held his iPhone to the sky like Simba in The Lion King as he proudly displayed to the onlookers below and hit “Play” on his voicemail, “Hi. This is Marcus with Verizon. I’m calling to let you know your new iPhone X has arrived and is ready for pick up. Please call us at your earliest convenience to pick it up.” He was laughing and in hysterics. I was dumbfounded… Verizon knew it was a gift… they had a note on the account to call me… his number wasn’t associated with any of it… that kid had out-smarted me again without even trying.

Also of note in this story… the phone call came from an employee named “Marcus,” which also happens to be the name of Samuel’s big brother. It’s not a common name, so adding that to the story just makes it all the richer.

Did this upset me? Was Christmas ruined? Absolutely not! In fact, it was just the opposite. Over the years, Samuel probably can’t name two or three gifts he’s received… but he can recount every holiday season that he tried to outsmart me in our Christmas game (and often did). The real meaning of the holidays is the memories we make with each other. Our gifts come and go… and are forgotten… but our memories live on.

I’d like to take this moment on behalf of myself and the wonderful gang that bring

The Shore Update to you every week to wish you all a holiday full of wonderful memories.

Until next time (hoping it won’t be so long),
Cheri Hoffman