Saturday, December 25, 2010

...the gift.

The real title of this blog should be something like..."Family Traditions and my big mouth" but that seemed really long so I went with "the gift" instead.

Now most of you that follow my blog also see my photos on Facebook and saw the picture last year of "The Gift" this is the present that C could open the Christmas after his 18th birthday. Today was the day. After waiting every Christmas for as far back as he could remember, today he got to open this gift. The end of a family tradition. Next year the gift won't be re-wrapped and placed under the tree as the first gift, it won't be there as the last gift. It won't be there at all. Which then got me thinking about other family traditions...

The Clifton side of the family has a long standing Christmas Day tradition. The White Elephant gift exchange. Each member brings a gift, a really horrid cheesy gift and we draw numbers and exchange and steal them and exchange and steal and so on until the end. It's fun, it's rowdy, it's Christmas. Now the rule is, you have to pay to play. Kids, adults, grandparents, family, friends, first timers or every Christmas you're there, you bring a gift to get a gift. And this is where two traditions collide...

When Brent first got out of the Navy we went back to New Mexico to live for a couple of years. C was 3 at the time and we weren't sure if he would want to play during the gift exchange. Three year olds aren't so keen on getting their presents taken from them, you see. So we bought a cheesy gift, wrapped it up and tossed in the bag to take to my brother and sister's house just in case. Turned out C didn't want to play the exchange game so the gift stayed in the bag. Thinking ahead I tossed it away with our Christmas supplies to bring the next year. Well the next year Brent's folks decided to come up from Alamogordo on Christmas Day so we only spent part of the day Christmas with my side of the family and didn't do the gift exchange. The present stayed under the tree.

As we were finishing up with the gifts C said that there was still one there and whose was it? I said it was his, because it was, and he then asked if he could open it. Well I have been known to pop off sometimes and this is one of those times...I told him not until he was 18. No big deal right? He was 4 at the time so what were the odds that this would come back to bite me? Ah...but C was not your typical 4 year old. With a mind like a steel trap the next Christmas came around and as we were unpacking the decorations, out comes the gift and he says, "That's mine but I can't open it until I am 18."

So every year we would re-wrap the gift, I am a little distracted by shiny things and so a new coat of paper would freshen up the gift. Every year it would go back under the tree, first gift under, last gift out. And the legend around it grew as well as the size of the gift. That's a lot of wrapping paper.

A couple years ago Brent and I started to get a little worried, we knew what the gift was but in C's mind it had reached epic proportions. This was THE GIFT he could open at 18, this was going to be great. Now we had a couple of choices, we could come clean right then and there and tell him what it was, we could change what was in THE GIFT or we could let it play out and hope for the best. We decided that in our family the funny really is the thing so we would do that latter. But we did do some well placed hints to try and lessen C's expectations.

So today was the day...C opened all of the other presents and THE GIFT was the last present under the tree. With its new wrapping and for the first year ever, ribbons.

Now the momentous task of unwrapping THE GIFT, each layer of paper was undone separately. 1,2,3,4...11,12,13,14,15...a pile of paper to the side of him...

Finally! C got to hold in his hand THE GIFT! The one he has waited every Christmas to open! And it was...

Yes, that's a roll of Christmas themed toilet paper. And yes, C is smiling. The funny is the thing in this family and really, that is THE GIFT we have given to him, this year and every year. I hope your holiday has been filled with smiles and laughter and love. Ours has. (Even if C might want to know what the exchange time limit is on new parents right about now)

Merry Christmas!

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