Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve Gift


The holidays are all about traditions, aren’t they?  Things you do without even thinking about it because they are just part of who you are, and things that make you smile year after year.  I like those sorts of things.

One of the things for me is Christmas Eve Gift.  I still remember every year my mom would come into my room, flip on the light, and offer that greeting.  “Christmas Eve Gift!”, she’d say with her beaming smile.  I  never did know what it meant, exactly.  Something about getting an extra present if you were the first one to say it, though there were never any extra gifts exchanged because of it.  (Though we did always get to open one present on Christmas Eve, but at night, not in the morning.)  Mostly, it was just the proper way to greet someone on December 24th. 

When I got older, I’d still say it as a greeting, though I have to say that Brian and Billy are not really all that big on goofy things like that, and neither of them have really picked up the habit.  If they’re going to adopt a tradition, they want to know the details.  So, I checked the ever-popular Wiki

"Christmas Gift" is an expression traced back as early as 1844 in the southern United States. It is derived from the tradition of saying "Christmas Gift!" among typically poor African American and Anglo farming families in rural areas, when people would wake on Christmas morning and rush to say "Christmas Gift" before anyone else. The person being told "Christmas Gift!" is expected to present the person saying it to them with a present. In addition, while "Merry Christmas" is the common and current seasonal salutation, "Christmas Gift" was an equivalent expression used in the rural south and also in southern Pennsylvania, Ohio Valley, West Virginia, and later in northeastern Texas as a simple greeting and recognizing the birth of Christ as a gift.

"Christmas Eve Gift" is another variation. The Dictionary of American Regional English traces the first written uses of "Christmas Eve Gift" back to 1954. The tradition is similar to the "Christmas Gift" tradition, but occurs on Christmas Eve. The person being told "Christmas Eve Gift!" is expected to present the person saying it to them with a small present, traditionally candy or nuts. It is a tradition that is carried out in fun, with no real expectation of the treat to appear. It often became a family tradition to try to be the first in the family to "get" the other members by uttering the phrase. it was a way to create fun when often in reality there were few Christmas treats.

So I guess it really is just something fun to say/do with your loved ones on the holiday; nothing wrong with that.  And, in looking around again today, I found this post, from a lady who apparently also grew up with Christmas Eve Gift without knowing entirely why—though it seems her family is much more competitive about it than ours ever was. 

In another vein, though, I always try to give myself a Christmas Eve gift of sorts: sitting in a darkened room, listening to Christmas carols and looking at the lights on the tree.  I am almost always the last person up, so the house is nice and quiet and it’s very relaxing.  In many ways, it’s like the calm before the storm, but I try not to think about it that way.  I’m not sure I’ll quite get the full effect this year as I probably will have to turn in before Billy tonight.  Our family gathering will be a bit earlier than usual tomorrow (trying to plan around the forecasted winter weather, though they still can’t make up their minds exactly what it’s going to do), so I’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn to get the turkey in the roaster.  Definitely going to cut into the late night tree gazing, though I don’t think I can give it up entirely, even if it means a really long day tomorrow.  Really, who would want to give this up?

Christmas Eve Gift

So, Christmas Eve Gift to all of you, and Merry Christmas.  My wish for you is for peace and happiness, and that all of your wishes come true.