X Marks The Spot

In a previous article, I’d written about my Christmas traditions, and how they’d changed as my life had changed. Here is one tradition that got lost over the years, but I’m hoping to revive it soon.

When I was a kid, my parents started a fun Christmas tradition. At least, that’s how I remember it. My mother wrote down creative and clever clues on pieces of paper, and hid them all over the house. I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes on my Christmas scavenger hunt, which extended the holiday that much longer. Mom said later she started that tradition because she didn’t have enough wrapping paper for my new bicycle. From then on, she saved my largest present for the hunt.

Fast forward to my college years, and I started this fun tradition with my roommates. We only exchanged one present, but we made everyone work for it. Sometimes we’d get the neighbors involved, hiding clues in other apartments, or even the laundry room. It became a holiday competition, all in good fun of course. Each Christmas we’d challenge ourselves to create the perfect scavenger hunt. After we’d unwrapped our gifts and feasted on Christmas cookies and hot chocolate, we’d vote for the best hunt that day.

When I became a mom, I couldn’t wait to pass my beloved tradition on to Nathan. I’d rock my baby in my arms, with visions of future scavenger hunts dancing in my head. We’d have so much fun! Alas, it was not to be. You see, I’d given birth to a logical child. 

“Oh, Mom! That’s so ridiculous. Why do we have to wander all over the house and the backyard, just to find a Christmas present? This really is the most inefficient use of our time! You could have wrapped my present in less time than it took you to make up these clues and hide them all over the place! And while we’re on the subject of clues…”

I don’t think Nathan speaks for the entire human population. Most of us love games and puzzles and searching for clues. How else can we justify the purchase of mystery novels, the watching of suspenseful shows and movies, the listening to true crime podcasts, and the exploring of escape rooms? Humans love a good mystery, and many of us fancy ourselves amateur sleuths. At least in our minds.

According to the site Epic Reads, the mystery and thriller genre is the second most popular book genre in the publishing world. The definition of a mystery is far more reaching than just the detective novels that started it. Through the years, it’s evolved to include subgenres, such as true crime, scientific mysteries, and even cozy mysteries (my writing genre). 

The elements of a mystery are often similar (the crime, the clues, the quest for the truth). It’s more about the journey of getting there! A great mystery has the sleuth riding shotgun along with the main character, as they work to put every element of the puzzle together. 

I’ve got one child married and one with a pretty serious girlfriend. Now, more than ever, I feel close to the next stage of my life…grandchildren. Oh yes, I realize grandkids are still way down the road, if at all! But they’re closer than they were a year ago. It’s not quite time to dust off my thinking cap and planning creative clues and hiding places…just yet. But I might, purely for research, take a look on Pinterest and see what’s going on in the world of scavenger hunts.

Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1985 and lives in Grand Cane, Louisiana. She also writes books, which are for sale at www.jannfranklin.com. You can reach her at jann@jannfranklin.com