Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday - Past Presents!

When did you open Christmas presents when you were growing up? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? If you traveled, did your parents take the gifts, or did you open them early or late? Did your parents have Santa leave presents? Were they wrapped or unwrapped? Did you have stockings? What was generally in those? Were gifts simple and practical or more extravagant? Did you give presents to your parents and siblings? Were they homemade or purchased? If purchased, did you pay with your own money or did your parents pay? What are memories of special gifts you received? Did you ever peek and find out what your gifts were ahead of time? Did presents gradually appear under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas and were you allowed to touch/shake them?

Until I was ten or eleven years old, we always went to the grandparents' houses for Christmas. There certainly wasn't room in the car for a family of six plus luggage plus gifts, so Christmas at our house might be on the December 23rd. Or December 27! My folks didn't make a big deal out of Santa Claus. My mom didn't want us to be confused about whether Jesus was real. Which is really funny, because her dad always "went to the office" and while he was gone Santa arrived at her house in full costume. After Santa left, her dad would come back home and she would run to him and say "Oh Daddy, you missed him again!" She was apparently clueless as a child, but I don't think it caused a spiritual crisis!

All the gifts were always wrapped; in fact, they weren't even assembled.  I remember unwrapping my little metal refrigerator (with the food painted on the inside of the door!) and it was just flat in the box and my dad put it together later in the day!  A few of the gift tags might say "From Santa" but even before I went to school I could tell that was my daddy's distinctive printing! LOL And I have a vivid memory of this: When I was about to start kindergarten, my mom called me into the kitchen where she was washing dishes. She paused in her washing and said, "You do know there's no Santa Claus, don't you?" It's a good thing I wasn't heavily invested in him or I would have been crushed. Couldn't she have let me down a little easier?! In later years, she said she didn't want me to be the only kindergartener who still believed in Santa. Instead, I was probably the only one who didn't.

My brother, who was eleven years older than I, got married when I was ten, so we started staying home at least every other year as they alternated with my then-SIL's folks. It was nice to finally have it at home. But if I can't have it on Christmas Day, I'd rather have it late than early. One year since I've been married, my brother and his wife came a few days before Christmas, since it was her folks' turn to have them on Christmas Day. That same year, my in-laws had to go take care of my man's grandmother so that her caregivers could have the holiday off. (She had private care in her home for Alzheimer's.) I think we opened gifts at my folks on the 22nd and my in-laws on the 23rd or something like that. I remember seeing stores advertising last-minute sales on Christmas Eve, and it was so depressing to already be done with Christmas when the rest of the world hadn't even started!

I never had a stocking until after I was married and I made stockings for my man and myself. They weren't anything fancy, just the red velvety material and a fuzzy white "cuff" at the top.

In spite of all my trauma of no stockings and no Santa, I still have always liked Christmas! LOL I do remember as a child feeling a little restless after the gifts were open - a letdown from all the anticipation.

I still enjoy the anticipation as much as, if not more than, the actual event!

Although it may sound like it, my mom wasn't a Grinch! There are several sweet memories that stand out. One that I've shared before is my huge box vs. lots of gifts dilemma, and how she gave me both. Another year, she switched two presents. We were never allowed to touch or shake the gifts that were under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas, but we could crawl around and look to see who the gifts were for. (That was always a big deal to come home from school and see if there were any new gifts under the tree!) One year as I was looking at the gifts, I could see through the thin wrapping paper that it said Holly Hobbie, the doll that I had been wanting. I was crushed to have my surprise ruined. I didn't say anything, but my mom could tell from my face what had happened. When we were opening gifts, I opened that one, but instead of a doll it was a shoe box with a picture of Holly Hobbie glued where it had been on the real box. My mom had rewrapped the doll and put it in the back at the last, and fixed a "decoy" and put it in the spot the doll had originally been. It was fun to have a little bit of the surprise back!

One thing I always appreciated about my folks was how they handled the equality of gifts. We didn't necessarily get the same number of gifts, and we had no idea how much they spent on each of us, but it never occurred to us to think one got more or less than the others. The year my sister got her contacts, that was a bigger year for her, but another year, someone else might get a bigger gift. I knew someone who used to keep track to the penny how much she spent on her two boys, and one might get an envelope with 3.47 cents in it if his gifts cost that much less than his brother. Even as a teenager I thought that was a bit unusual, not to mention a whole lot of work!

Okay, I always write way too much! Share your memories and link up here! And please be patient with me - tomorrow is my last day that the kids have finals, and I might not be at my computer much!


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Diana Ferguson said...

No do not write too much! Have a great Friday.

Barbara H. said...

We had similar experiences with see-through wrapping paper, except my mom didn't know. It's neat that your mom incorporated some surprise to make up for it!

I made stockings for my husband and I too, with white fuzzy stuff at the top, only the rest of the stocking is plaid rather than velvet.

Kathy said...

Aw, I feel bad that your mom told you there was no Santa in kindergarten! My daughter was one of the oldest ones in school to believe--until she was in 4th grade! I was about that same age when I figured it out, too--when I got up on Christmas morning and Santa hadn't come yet! I went back to bed, and soon I heard my parents scurrying around in the living room--and then I knew!

Anonymous said...

Putting money in an envelope to make sure gift amounts are even is a little over the top. I never even wondered if my presents cost more or less than anyone else's.

Tina said...

Sorry I'm late. I had planned to do this yesterday but took my MIL shopping and we "shopped til I dropped!" My sister wanted to make sure I participated also to see if our memories were the same (for the most part, they were!)

bekahcubed said...

I love the story about the Holly Hobbie doll. My sister always tries to make her gifts really secretive--so she's always coming up with genius ways of either disguising gifts so they look like something else or disguising the recipient so we never know which gift belongs to which person until she reveals the secret code!

bp said...

That's funny you recognized your Dad's handwriting.

I missed linking up on Friday (without a computer!) but I'm going to answer the questions today cause I have so many Christmas memories!