It was Christmas Eve, 1987. Sandra and I, along with our three children, Alex, Allison and Eric, had been in our new home, on Mill Farm Road a little more than a year. Superficially, everything seemed normal. Out back, the live Christmas tree from our 1985 Christmas, was doing nicely. There was light snow on the ground. Inside, Sandra, with some intermittent help from other family members, had covered our Christmas tree with her collection of ornaments.
As in years past, Sandra had baked dozens of Christmas cookies in the shapes of reindeer, Christmas wreaths, Santas, candy canes and such, all carefully decorated as usual. Christmas music was playing on the audio system. A plate of cookies for Santa rested on the hearth by the fireplace.
The kids, understandably were excited about the gifts they knew would be under the tree the next morning, as well as the imminent arrival of grandparents bearing more gifts on Christmas day. After dinner we loaded everyone into our mini-van and went off to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at First Presbyterian Church. Then it was back home and time to start thinking about baths and bedtime for the kids. Little did they know that a plot had already been hatched, that they’d still talk about 30 years later.
As any parent knows, there are certain ages that children go through when the gifts they want do not come pre-assembled. In December 1987, our children were ages 12, 9 and 5. We had been assembling forts and play kitchens and Star Wars toys and bicycles and Big Wheels and various electric gadgets to put under the tree at Christmas for 8 or 9 years. Since the man of the house was particularly inept at anything mechanical and did not like reading instructions (who really needs them?) the assembling process often went on late into the night.
In counterpoint to the adjusted bedtime for the adults of our family, the children typically arose on Christmas morning at abnormally early hours. In 1986 Sandra and I had awaken long before dawn to an inexplicable and continuous roaring sound. On investigation this proved to be the sound of Eric riding his new Big Wheel in circles on the concrete basement floor well before 6AM. Coffee always proved helpful, but Sandra and I realized more sleep would have been much better.
We had had enough. It was about time we got some sleep before such a busy day. The children were quite aware of our attitude about the pre-dawn party that historically ensued when they discovered their unwrapped Santa-gifts under the tree (Santa never wrapped for our household). We insisted that they should stay in bed until 9, but they thought surprisingly little of that idea. Led by their older brother (the future lawyer) negotiations began, resulting in a pre-bedtime agreement that they would stay quietly in their bedrooms until at least 7:30 on Christmas morning. Promises and threats having been made, one by one, the kids went off to bed, reassured, no doubt, by the seeming normalcy of the evening.
Eventually satisfied that the kids were asleep we hauled out the Santa gifts and arranged them around the tree. And we waited. We had some eggnog and ate Santa’s cookies. We wanted to be certain that all three were deeply asleep. And then we went into action.
Quietly, carefully we crept into each of their bedrooms and set each of their clocks back 1 hour. Downstairs we repeated the process. Within twenty minutes, every clock outside the master bedroom had been set back. Shortly after midnight we climbed into bed, daring to be hopeful.
I remember it was light outside when I woke up on Christmas morning in 1987. I checked my watch. Eight o’clock. Eight o’clock! I listened. No sound. Nothing. “What time is it?”, Sandra asked softly.
We found them, sitting in Allison’s bed, watching the clock, which said 7:05 AM. We could hardly keep from smiling. We thanked them for letting us sleep in and asked them to reset the clocks that had evidently slowed down overnight. “Your tricked us!”
“Yes. And it’s about time!”
Jeff and Sandra Nickloy have been members of FPC Noblesville for 40 years. They met in 1971 while Jeff was studying law at Duke University. After completing his service as a Navy JAG officer Jeff and Sandra moved to Noblesville, where they raised their 3 children, who now live in Noblesville and Westfield, along with 6 grandchildren and a wide assortment of pets. Jeff is the senior partner of Nickloy & Higdon, a local general practice law firm where he works “almost full time”. Jeff and Sandra enjoy time with family and friends, volunteer work, traveling and spending time in Sandy’s home state of South Carolina.