Chastity Stanek didn't peek. Honest. But between a hint from a source she refused to name, and the pile of newspaper in the middle of the driveway, she figured it out.
Stanek, 18, is the proud new owner of a 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity, which her parents bought a week ago for $50 and spent days fixing up and painting for its Christmas Eve unveiling.
She even got to unwrap it.
Her father Larry Stanek spent Tuesday morning covering the car with "a whole sackful" of newspapers.
Not to mention the wrapping-paper Christmas tree shapes and bows he added for a decorative touch.
And spray painted on the newspaper along one side of the car, in blue and black, were the words "Merry Christmas, Chastity, Love, Mom + Dad."
"This is the first and last time," he said with a laugh. "It's too much work."
Larry Stanek said the idea to buy the car came a week ago.
His daughter, a recent Winona Senior High School graduate, "kept saying, 'In order for me to go to college, I'm going to need some wheels.'"
Paging through the classifieds section, he saw the car.
After picking it up, he and his wife, Karen, spent the next few days replacing parts, painting and cleaning - doing the work at a local car wash to keep the present a surprise.
When they brought it home, "We kept moving it from one side of the street to another up there (up the street)," Larry Stanek said.
Now, he said, "It looks like it got right off the lot."
Chastity, however, would have to wait to see for herself.
Though she knew the car was coming, she hadn't actually seen it Christmas Eve morning - and wouldn't until the evening unveiling.
And she was wisely willing to wait to take her new car for a spin.
"A while - 'til I get some money … some insurance," she said.
Tuesday morning, her father was just admiring a job well done. Putting a final bow on the newspaper-covered vehicle, Larry Stanek smiled.
"It looks too good to take the paper off, actually," he said.
Contact Kirsten Singleton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 453-3511.