Christmas traditions, Christmas Gift, family history, genealogy, Ancestors, biscuits and gravy, sliced oranges, traditions
Me beneath our Christmas tree

It happens every year and most years I lose. Maybe this year will be different, but somehow I doubt it.

Each year seems to be about the same. We pull up to my parent’s home, quickly jump out of the car and make our way up the walk. My heart is pounding and I am ready. Has my mother been watching out the window? Is she perched at the door, her hand on the knob, ready to jerk it open and beat me at the game? If it is anything like past years, she is waiting, but I always think maybe this year will be different and I will be able to yell it out first.

And then it happens, with one swift motion, my mother yanks open the door while yelling “Christmas Gift.” Once again, she’s won. That too seems to be tradition.

I had to smile when I did a Google search to see if I could find anything about the origins of this tradition. The point is to yell Christmas gift first and the idea is you then get a gift from the other person. My family has done it as long as I can remember and my mother told me hers did it when she was growing up. But Googling it, I discovered our family isn’t alone, in fact I found a discussion about that exact tradition here:  Christmas Eve Gift  and an article about it here:  Dealing With a Peculiar Family Tradition (see article #8).  I learned we certainly aren’t the only ones that have that tradition and I discovered that by far the majority had southern roots which made perfect sense since both of my parents have a set of southern grandparents. It makes me wonder about some of our other traditions.

Many traditions morph and evolve over the years as families join and times change, but thankfully many traditions are preserved and passed down, generation after generation.  Sometimes the reason for the tradition may change or is lost, but even still, those traditions can provide continuity and stability to the many generations who share it. So while my mom may seem to win “Christmas Gift” most every year, in reality, continuing and participating in that family tradition makes us all winners.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

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12 thoughts on “Maybe This Year I Will Win

  1. Southern, eh? Now I wonder why I have never heard of this. Do you have to arrive prepared to hand the gift over on the spot or do you have some time to regroup?

  2. I noticed that quite a few of those who commented that they had the tradition were AL and GA…..on the other hand maybe your folks regarded it like the Elf on the Shelf and decided they didn't need one more thing to do.

  3. I read about this tradition somewhere, maybe in a novel — I can't remember — but this is the first time a real person has written about it. What a fun tradition. Not that I don't want you to win, but your mother continuing to win means she's in good health. Merry Christmas to you, Michelle.

  4. I love that this tradition is much more wide spread than I ever anticipated. I grew up in Arkansas, and I remember from the time I was little, my aunts and grandmother engaged in seeing who would be first to say 'Christmas Eve gift'. I didn't know there was a 'Christmas gift' tradition. While we didn't give small gifts when the expression was exchanged, it might explain another tradition we had: that of being allowed to open one gift on Christmas eve night.

  5. First, am from Central Texas and the family's been here since the 1880's. I am a very early "Baby Boomer".

    As a young child I have a distinct memory of us walking thru the door of my Grandparent’s house in the days before Christmas and each time Mother loudly announcing our arrival by hollerin’ “Christmas Gift” immediately upon entering. This would be before the days of locked doors and the need for family to formally enter the home. I believe I was aware of the custom back then but it seems to have fallen out of usage with the death of the “Grands”.

    ‘Tis sad, as it seems a part of my heritage that’s been lost to time. Perhaps, with my grand-children, I can rekindle the tradition as an acclamation of their heritage.

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