I love the holiday season. I love big meals with friends and family, cozy get togethers with loved ones, buying, wrapping, and giving presents, the twinkling lights all around town, and joy that seems to accompany everyone during this time. The warmth of the season seems to offset the cold outside.
Today I started thinking about some of my favorite holiday memories, like Christmas with my dad’s side of the family. We took our present opening seriously, and made sure to savor the moment rather than opening all at the same time in a frenzy of ripping paper. We went from youngest to oldest, opening presents one at a time, so we all got to share in each other’s delight, not just our own.
But because everything on my dad’s side has to be a challenge, opening presents turned into a game. You had to guess what was in the present before you opened it, and we were pretty hard core. We disguised things to make it harder to guess, like the time my mom made a blanket for my grandparents and disguised it with heavy, noisy cans of beans. We took it so seriously, that we got outrageously analytical and specific, as in “Well, it’s too light to be a pair of pants, so I’m going to guess t-shirt. Either Bengals or Xavier.”
It was so intense, and there were so many presents, that we had to open our gifts over the course of 2 afternoons, all the while munching on holiday cookies and candy. My grandpa even numbered each present, and kept a corresponding list so he could remember what was in each box. You would pick up your next gift, tell him the number, then ask if it was okay to open it (he liked to save the most exciting things for the end). If you got the green light, you’d ask if you could shake it (like I said, we took our guessing seriously), and he would give you a yes, no, or “only a little.”
My grandpa was so organized, that only one year did presents get mixed up, and we relive that moment every Christmas. I was very young- 3 maybe 4- and I opened a pair of khaki pants meant for my uncle. I was traumatized. How were these pants ever supposed to fit me? I politely thanked my grandparents, and everyone had a good laugh. When my uncle opened my little red dress later, I was quite relieved.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May your family’s quirky holiday traditions continue :)