I wrote last week about the tradition of Christmas Eve Gift and Christmas Gift in our family and how that was always my Mamma Williams “thing”–getting us kids especially and not letting us outsmart her.
Then tonight I got a comment on that blog from Sherry that has the same custom: ”My mother always does the “Christmas Eve Gift” greeting on the 24th. She is 90 years old and my siblings and I remember that from our childhood. Mother says she got it from her grandmother. You’re the only other ones I’ve ever known that have even heard of it!”
Since I hadn’t done any investigation of it, I Googled “Christmas Eve Gift” and immediately came up with other blogs where people told about their family tradition of Christmas Eve Gift. For some it is was only Christmas Eve. For others, Christmas Day only. Some were like us and did it both days (and, yes, we are likely to say Christmas Eve Eve Gift sometimes too). Susan Buce writes about “Playing the Christmas Eve Gift Game” and her story sounds very much like our family custom. Her family came from Oklahoma.
In her article she said it sometimes too 20 years to get a spouse into the game. Year after year Mark has asked me to “explain” it to him again, though there is no good explanation for why we do it, but he got into the spirit early on. The Susan Buce article questions whether the new technology can count in Christmas Gift. We always claim it can’t, but we all pounce on it anyway. I Facebooked as many in my family as I could last week and Mark sent out a Christmas email minutes after midnight and said his timestamp on the email proved he beat us all even if we said it to him in person before we saw the email.
Susan Buce asked for others that had the same custom and received over 140 emails with similar customs. I didn’t read through them all, but there are fascinating emails about how the custom possibly developed in the South. Often, the slaves or servants would say it and would be rewarded with a day off or a coin.
Lots of people commented about how they had let the custom die out and wondered if they could revive it. I’m glad ours didn’t die with Mamma or with Daddy. It’s the kind of thing we could have easily forgotten about. I don’t even know how we remember it every year (honestly, I think it is Mark that reminds me of it most years now), but we all make our attempts. Of course, since we do it on both days, it helps the “losers” on Christmas Eve remember and develop their strategy for Christmas Day.
My Googling (isn’t Google a wonderful wonderful thing?) also found me this fabulous John Henry Faulk story. It, too, has a little bit of the Christmas Gift in it. Read it. Shed a few tears.
The story reminds me of the stockings that were always important in our family. Growing up they usually had an orange and some nuts and maybe a new toothbrush. Presents were rarely in the stockings, but the stockings were important just the same. This season on the TV show “The Middle,” the Patricia Heaton character preached to her children about the importance of the orange in the stocking as a reminder of the Depression and other poor times when that was a wonderful gift and an appreciated gift. My sister and I laughed about it because the orange has always been a part of our stockings, though we usually pulled them out, put them back in the fruit bowl where they had been through the week, and went on about our business. This year my sister went all out with the stockings and we had great new electric toothbrushes that we all had great fun with— massaging our faces and seeing how long we could stand to have it on our nose or ear before the tickle became too much to bear. We also had an orange and gum. I don’t believe there were any nuts this year — other than the ones sitting in the living room holding their toothbrushes to their noses.