Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Gifts

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

There aren't any unusual gift-giving traditions in our family - at least, not that we are aware are particularly unusual. We give presents to immediate family only (including grandparents), and as children would also receive presents from aunts and uncles. The odd small present might go under the tree in advance, and on Christmas Eve Father Christmas would top up the pile, ready for the grand opening ceremony on Christmas morning.

One thing that we do, that I now realise not all families do, is open each present individually. If you'd just opened a present, it was your turn to go to the tree to pick out a present for someone else to open. Everyone would then witness the opening of that present, and once the ooohs and aaahs were done and the paper neatly folded away that person would head to the tree to pick out the next one (for someone else obviously, it's poor form to select another of your own presents!) I'm not sure if this is just how our family does things, or if it's an English thing, or if it's because our family is pretty small. In my partner's whanau* the present opening is a chaotic free-for-all with paper flying everywhere!

Upon further investigation it turns out my Dad's family had a slight variant on this. Everyone would have purchased their presents for the other family members, wrapped them individually, and kept them in their bedrooms. Instead of bringing them out to go under the tree, each person would hand over the labels to the presents into a hat (except it wasn't literally a hat, it was a saucepan). Rather than individually picking presents from under the tree, the labels would then been drawn one by one out of the "hat", thereby revealing there was a present "from Kid to Dad", whereupon Kid would race off to their room and collect said present to be ceremonially handed over to Dad. If you'd purchased more than one present for someone, there would be multiple labels, so you'd never be quite sure if there were more presents for you still to be drawn out of the "hat" or not.

There weren't many individual presents that stood out in our minds, but my Mum remembered a sewing basket that she was once given, and a prized "99" white yoyo. I can also confirm that Santa still brings me a Terry's Chocolate Orange every year - thanks, Santa-Mum!

Once my Mum cottoned on to the fact that Nana was the one who would buy presents and hide them, rather than Father Christmas swanning in at the last minute, she wouldn't rest until she had located the hiding place and picked open the paper to see what everyone was getting. This is a family tradition of sorts as my brother inherited this particular trait, but I think other families may also recognise this gene!

* whanau - Maori for family - encompassing the (very) extended family and anyone else you'd choose to be family


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