Christmas is far and away my favorite holiday.
I’ve often worried I would fall in love with someone who had strong family Christmas traditions and our dueling alliances would tear us apart. I will give my partner any other holiday, ANY holiday he wants, as long as he gives me Christmas.
My family does Christmas right.
There’s the neighbor gifts–salsa. We all have our jobs, I write the labels because mah handwriting is da bomb, yo, also because I’m terrible with a blender. There’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the novel we read every year growing up. There’s the Disney Christmas Album and a box full of handmade ornaments, and a yearly Nativity pageant where I am always, always the angel and plan to be such until my own daughter rips the role from my hands.
And then there’s Christmas Eve.
Long ago when my four siblings and I were but young children, curly of hair, extreme of height, Christmas Eve meant the Nativity and Christmas morning meant presents. These were the days of Barbies and video games and sleepless, giddy nights. These were also the days when the cheap gifts we bought our siblings got lost in the fray of Barbies and video games and sleepless, giddy nights.
Enter Christmas Eve.
One year it was decided us children would exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve, allowing us to fully enjoy our simple sibling gifts for one night, and then on Christmas Day we would have our parent gifts.
This solution worked like a charm.
Suddenly sibling gifts were a thing.
A very, very important thing.
Back in the early, early days, sibling gifts consisted of our parents handing us $6 as we entered the Dollar Store, $1 per person per gift. We would walk through the aisles, looking for the best crappy soap possible, furiously hiding our baskets from snooping siblings, and furiously trying to track down what our snooping siblings were getting us.
When money grew a bit more sophisticated, it was all of us at Target, trying hard not to/to run into each other in the aisles.
We would obsess over the gifts we got each other. “Just read the first three letters on the receipt,” we would say. ”What are the first three letters? That’s all I need to know.” We would shake hidden gifts and give hints and then, once we all went shopping together, we would all wrap our presents together.
This is my favorite part of all of Christmas.
My siblings and I gather in one big room and wrap our gifts to each other.
It’s exactly the sort of madness you would hope it would be. We furtively show each other our grand surprises. ”Ooooh Jessie,” we say, “you’re going to love this!” and Jessica, who has her back turned NO PEEKING groans in anticipation.
We build forts to wrap presents underneath. We use love seats as dividers, employ the honor system, and loudly speculate as we wrap a gift. ”Hear that?” we say, “That’s your gift Joel,” and then Joel will be off predicting based on the first three letters of the receipt.
A lot of things have changed since the Dollar Store days, but this Christmas Eve gift giving and wrapping has (mostly) stayed with us. When Jeff flies in from Austin he brings a bag of unwrapped gifts. When I return from California my sibling presents are bare, ready for wrapping day. Ready for this, my favorite family tradition.
And then, one day, without warning, we grew up.
We added people to the familia.
Hi Lindsey! Yo Andrew! Hello my little nephew/Pride Of The Family Denning!
And suddenly the task seemed bigger. The gift giving for each, individual person more unlikely.
Last year we tried to end the sibling gift tradition, or I should say a majority tried to end the tradition, and a vocal minority (me) (I’m always the family’s vocal minority) opposed the motion. Drawing a single sibling name for a single sibling Christmas gift was heartbreaking and painful and every draw I cried out, “I can’t do this! I feel terrible!”
So our tradition continued another year.
Just one year, it appears.
For recently it was casually mentioned we would draw names and buy one sibling a gift this Christmas.
One sibling gift!
What about all of the other people I love who share my family ties!
How will we wrap nine presents in the same room if we are only wrapping one!
It doesn’t make any sense!
And so here is my plea.
My siblings read my blog. So do you, great people of the world. And I am imploring both my siblings and you to make this madness stop.
Comment on this post. Use that emotion stored in your heart of hearts and convince my siblings they are wrong.
LET’S SAVE DENNING SIBLING CHRISTMAS GIFTS.
Together we can do it.