Sunday, December 9, 2007


Traditions are a funny thing. Sometimes you'll hear of someone's favorite tradition and you think "Oh how wonderful! We should start doing that!". And then other times, you'll hear something and say "Oh. Now that's just weird". lol I remember when Nicholas, my oldest son, went to spend Christmas with his father and his step-mother at his step-mother's parents' home. Nick was probably 10 years old at the time. He was appalled that they opened all their presents on Christmas Eve! That was one of their traditions, but that just wasn't how things were done, as far as Nick was concerned. He was downright upset about it, too. You see, our tradition was that the kids got to open one present on Christmas Eve. That was it. One present. And they, the children, got to pick the present. If they picked socks and underwear, well that was just funny. (Yes, people. Single income households with 4 young children sometimes do buy socks and underwear for their children as a gift at Christmas time. When money's tight, everything counts as a gift! lol). If they picked the toy of their dreams, that was funny, too. That was our tradition and I know it's one that is shared by many. Traditions bring you comfort and joy and a sense of belonging to something, don't you think?
Well, a few years ago, when the kids got older, there was a lot of "pilfering" going on with the packages under the tree. When Mom and Dad weren't home, the kids were sneakily opening their presents and then sealing them back up before anyone caught them. But, like most kids, something gave the game away. Somehow, we found out what they were doing. I don't even remember how we found out now, but find out we did. And that's when it came to me. I remembered something that my mom did to my sister and me a couple of times back in the day (and for the very same reason, too!). She "numbered" the presents instead of putting name tags on them. Yeah, numbered them. And she's the only one who had the list of what number went to which person (we all said extra prayers for her well-being during those holidays...whatever would we do if that list became lost or stolen or - gasp - if she was hurt in a car wreck and got amnesia and forgot where she'd stashed The List?).

So I implemented the Numbered Gifts Tradition in our home, too. Oh the groans, the moans, the cries of outrage! I was the cruelest, meanest, most awful-est Mom in the whole wide world! I was taking all the fun out of Christmas! (My children can be sooooo melodramatic when they try. Wonder where they get that from?). Sure, sure. I knew how they felt. After all, my mean ol' mother had done the same thing to me. But this time, I was the do-er, not the do-ee. Much better point of view, let me tell you! And I reveled in the madness. All the packages survived the season unscathed and ready to open at the accepted time (Christmas morning). The gifts were truly a surprise, like they were intended to be. Nobody knew ahead of time what all they'd gotten. It was great. I loved it. They loved it. All was well.

Until the next year. When I put the first wrapped presents under the tree and the kids saw numbers instead of names, they were back to feeling outraged. How could I do that to them? They'd learned their lesson last year and promised not to peak and pilfer! Promise, promise, promise! Cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye-Promise! Ha. Ha. Ha. Like I'd fall for that. No, no, my little darlings. Mom has found the fool-proof method to keep little prying hands and eyes away from the gifts and I'm not about to give it up now. And so goes the birth of The Numbered Gifts Tradition in our household.
Well, a couple of years ago, Christmas time rolls around and it's time to start wrapping new gifts. I realized then that there were only 2 kids left in the house, Kaleb and Jacob. Surely it was time to go back to name labels instead of numbers. One night, we were discussing Christmas lists and I said something about not doing the numbers that year and the boys had a fit. Not do numbered gifts? What was I thinking? Mom! It's tradition! So here I sit. Caught in my own net. I continue to number the gifts, which means I have to keep a list of what's what and which number goes to which person. And I have to keep that list in a place where no one else can find it, but where I can remember where I put it! And as I get older, that last part just keeps getting harder and harder! (Oh and how do you do a mysterious enough list of numbered presents with just 2 kids in the household? You number some of your husband's gifts, too, just to keep the formula a little more complicated!).

So what's some of your holiday traditions? I'd love to hear about them!

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  1. I loved hearing of your traditions. And if there were more than 2 kids in my house, I would probably adopt that one.

    We always opened our gifts from our aunts and uncles on Christmas Eve. My family is Italian. We do the Feast of the Seven Fish. And my dad's whole side used to get together. But now there's just too many. But, my immediate family gets together and still the kids open their gifts from my brother and sister. And vice versa.

    I have posted quite a few traditions on my blog. Too many to mention here. Feel free to go back and look.


  2. What a great idea!

    When our kids were little, we let them open one gift on Christmas Eve...after we got home. On Christmas Eve we always went to church, then out to dinner, then rode around looking at Christmas lights. Once home, we listened to Christmas music, drank hot chocolate and opened the one gift.

    Christmas hugs!

  3. Well, Thank God my little sweetys didn't sneak lol. Im joking Im sure they did, but they did it while they were hide in the closet and under beds.
    On Christmas Eve. when they small I always got them a pair of chistmas pjs and gown for April. I would be books and vidios. On Christmas eve. night they opened those..ran and put their new sleep wear on and then we would watch the vidios and read books until sleepy time.

  4. Numbering gifts? What a perfect idea! With my four this would save me a lot of headaches :o)! They shake, beg, compare, beg more!
    We started a tradition of having our own family Christmas/present opening including Chinese food, eaten on the floor when Amanda was small and Chinese food was her favorite. We usually did this two days before Christmas because we were away on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The floor thing started because the first year we did it we had just moved into our home and hadn't moved all our furniture in so we sat in the floor and it stuck. BUT Amanda got sick on Chinese food and has sworn to never have it again so our tradition has changed... that and the grandmother of Matt that we spent the holiday with has passed away so we are home on Christmas. I am resolved this year to have Christmas on Christmas! At our own home! and start a new tradition of some kind... Not sure what it will be but I hope it's good. :o)!
    I love waiting for Christmas, the anticipation is so much fun!

  5. You see being that I am so forgetful these days I had forgot to post my family traditions. I must get on it soon. My mom didn't have that number option with there only being me. It drove her nuts that I could pick up a gift and tell her what it was so after a while she started adding things like rocks to the packages. In my 8th grade year she got me a leather jacket that was packed in a box with two cinder blocks. No joke. Sure fooled me. LOL

  6. Sooo cool. I only have three (soon to be four) and I want to do numbered gifts!

    How cute is that!

  7. Great idea Kari! There are so many traditions. We have a Christmas tree lot for the holidays and going to get our tree was a really big deal for the kids. As they got older some of them worked on the lot too. But this might be the last year for selling trees. The guys mostly sell them wholesale anymore. For three generations, families would come downtown and make a day of it to pick out their tree. Miss those days. Oh, I haven't been around for three generations, LOL.

  8. You could leave the trusted list with a trusted neighbor. :)
    Being an engineer, I thought, you could develop a complicated formula (maybe using each boy's birthday). Then just plug 1, 2, 3, 4 into the formula. And on Christmas day, you could print out a spreadhseet with the "answers." When one boy or husband pulls up a box that says 247639272, you go down the list and say the recipient's name. So even if they came acros the spreadsheet, they still wouldn't know what it is. If you don't have a spreadsheet program, you could always use Google Docs for free.
    My sister and I were snoopers back then, as well. We, too, opened the gifts and taped them back together.
    Our family tradition, in my home, is to buy a secial ornament for the tree each year for each member of the family. This year I got a Star Wars ornament (as usual), my wife got a Hallmark See 'N Say (actually works), oldest daughter got an ornament of Mr Potato head giving his nose to a snowman w/o a nose, and the youngest got a Merry-go-round pony ornament that said "Baby's 2nd Christmas"

  9. Another thing...
    In the past, we usually packed up on Christmas day and went to the n-laws for several days. This year, we're going up the weekend before Xmas and coming back Xmas Eve to be home after Xmas. we haven't tried that before. It wil lbe interesting to see how it goes or how it feels.
    We also used to wrap presents from Mom and Dad and unpackage and build everything from Santa. This was a tradition from my wife's family. As Chirstmases (?) started to get a little tight, we wrap Santa gifts in "special" paper and leave one very special gift unwrapped for when they wake up Xmas morning. This was a tradition from my family. It's worked out well and stuck on the last few years. We are a young family. We're still working on traditions.

  10. We spend Christmas eve, all day, with the family...everyone at our house, mainly because we have the most room! After dinner, we head out to see the lights. Our entire neighborhood buys luminaries from the Boy Scouts and all of the homes light them down the sidewalks and driveways just at dark on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This has been going on for over 20 years and people come from all over to enjoy it. The cars start driving by at dark and are on the streets until after 11. There are hundreds of visitors driving by with their headlights off. They go by so slowly to see the luminaries, the outdoor decorations and lights and to try and peek inside all of the living rooms!

  11. Oh Kari, you get me tickled everytime!! ;) I caught myself picturing all the presents under the tree from when I was a kid. I could see my family numbering mine and my brothers gifts...LOL That would've been a hoot. ;)

    I hope my two don't become snoopers. I never was nor ever have been a snooper. I love the suprise of opening a gift. It's the best thing ever.

    As a kid (before marriage) we always opened our presents on Christmas Eve night. Because ol' Santa was so gracious to my brothers and I that all the gifts under the tree had to be opened then. So that Santa could leave all his presents for me and my brothers. BUT, my dad always was the grench and wouldn't open his from anyone and waited til Christmas morning...LOL Since I've been married, those traditions have changed...

    It now goes like this...

    Christmas eve night we open presents my Chad's family. Christmas morning Santa presents are seen and played with for a bit and then we load up and go to Houston to see my family for Christmas lunch and ALL there presents. Every once in a blue moon they put a kink in it and have us over Christmas Eve

  12. Oh, the other tradition from my family is that all Santa presents are left under the tree UNwrapped. My husbands was wrapped santa presents. So we had a tiff when it was our sons first Christmas, but the woman always wins and gets her way... ;) I think my tradition drives Chad crazy sometimes...LOL But HELLO, that's just the way it's suppose to me. :) :)

  13. When we were little we opened one gift of our choosing...Mama always wrapped the least of what we had in a really big package and for some reason we always forgot and went for that big box...she was trying to teach us about judging a book by it's cover...

  14. That's funny. One year my parents switched names on Christmas gifts just to make it interesting when my little sisters opened their gift. They were perplexed to open a gift intended for my brother.

  15. Having only one kiddo I just had to worry about the smarty pants noticing when Santa used the same paper mommy did. We used to do all the family gifts Christmas Eve(Polish tradition) and Santa would be in the morning. As Crystal got older we changed it to just one or two gifts Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas Day. Hey mom and dad want some fun on Christmas too! hehe

  16. I just thought I would pop in to say...I have two children and when the pilfering started, that is when I started to buy two different types of Christmas paper...only I knew who's gifts were wrapped in which paper.

    Waving to your wee Santa!

    Thanks again for your sweet email!

  17. Cute story, Kari! I don't have any exciting traditions to share with you since I don't have kids. My mom used to hide all the presents, like most parents do & I remember stumbling onto some bags in the closet a few times. I liked being surprised though..we would shake them under the tree, that's about it.

    Merry Christmas!


  18. My mother should've taken a clue from your book. I was a notorious gift peeker and I still am! Don't leave a wrapped package around with my name on it! I'm worse than a kid ever thought of being.

  19. This post really made me smile because like you, I always allowed my kids to open up ONE present on Christmas Eve....the rest could only be opened on Christmas morning:-) I never had to resort to the numbered presents but now you have me wondering if my boys use to sneak a peak at their presents when I wasn't home! lol I'll have to ask them!!! xoxo

  20. Love your traditions and the number tags. When I was a child we went to midnight mass and afterwards we went home to a big breakfast and got to open 1 of our gifts. It was so nice.We went to bed in the wee hours of the morning after laughing and eating and playing with our gift. Yes it was always a toy as I parents choose the gift we opened. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Mary

  21. Hi Kari, In our family we have always opened our presents on Christmas Eve after a family meal and Church, this is Polish tradition. So this happens near midnight! As children we would go to bed so excited with our toy or book under the quilt. On Christmas Day we have the huge turkey-and-everything-else-you-can-possibly-eat lunch and all are welcome! Then an afternoon nap is in order :) As kids we were all guilty of peeking under the wrapping!! It was great to read your family's traditions:) Jen and Jacqui

  22. I would need something that didn't require much thought early in the morning. Kids won't wait for that pot of coffee to get my brain cranking.
    You are precious!

  23. I love hearing your traditions Kari! We have a rob your neighbor game we play each year. I'm sure I would hear about it if we decided not to do that anymore. They enjoy those little inexpensive gifts as much as the big ones...well almost!

    Have you ever done a gift scavenger hunt? That's interesting...I've been the hunter and the hider on that one!


  24. Oh, that is such a cute story!!! What a great tradition too! Our kids open one present on Christmas Eve and it's always pajamas. :0)

  25. What, to busy to blog? Out buying my Christmas present? I notice you are not in here entertaining me with your insanity, so that must be it. Hop to little girl, time's awastin'
    love ya
    Aunt Sandi

  26. so you wanna come to Houston on the 27th and go to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with me??? :) :)

  27. As you can see I am here, the little santa clause mouse was hard to make it click, LOL
    I let my daughter open one present before Christmas, too.

  28. Oh very funny Kari! I can just imagine the outrage the first time you did that!

  29. We always open our gifts right after midnight (very early Christmas morning LOL). When the kids were younger, we were always so excited to see their faces when they opened gifts, that we would yell HO HO HO right after midnight to wake them up.

    We also started assigning different reindeer names to the the kids so that they wouldn't know which gifts were theirs. Because we only have two kids, they may have had several reindeer names assigned to them.

  30. Kari,
    Just came over from Linda's to avoid more holiday tasks. This made me laugh. My boys would open games, tapes etc and rewrap the empty containers ever so neatly. I tried various hiding places until I found the between the mattress and box spring hiding place for small, flat objects. Last year i even wrapped empty boxes and put games in old covers only to find out that now that they don't live here anymore they no longer care to snoop. Made me kind of sad, really.

    Time to go make the donuts, yeah really, they threaten to boycott me as a mother if I don't do it!!

    Merry, merry.


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