Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Annual Christmas Question

My friends, this month has kicked my ass. New car payment, frustrations in several directions, the time-sink that is hockey, a nameless funk that has nothing to do with the Easy Reader song -- none of these, or even all combined, is a decent excuse for being defeated by December. All I know is today I mentioned to the kids that it's a German tradition for the Christmas tree to be decorated on December 24, by the parents, without the kids watching, for unveiling at present-opening time, and it's a tradition that the way things are going around here, just might be the way it is for Christmas 2007. (Fortunately, they were utterly charmed by the idea.)

In any case, I offer up my annual Christmas question for all who happen upon this blog, whether you comment often or never: Do you ever open just one present?


  1. I would be all over that German tradition (did you invent it yourself or is it real?) if only we weren't going to be getting home from my sister's around 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and having to pull Santa duty. The tree is not up yet. Not even close.

  2. My mom said that's the way it was in their Irish/German family: All the presents PLUS the tree put out by the parents after they went to bed Xmas eve. Which makes me tired even thinkin' about it!

    The Boy is lobbying for the one gift thing, but I'm sticking with the Elf Balls, I think.

  3. The German tradition at our house is that we don't have room for trees that cats are going to eat anyway.

    I do open just one present. That was always my family's "thing" when I was growing up. On Christmas Eve, we opened ONE gift from my parents, and the rest were to be opened on Christmas Day morning. We learned quite early that choosing the biggest gift on Christmas Eve didn't always mean we were choosing the most awesome gift.

  4. portia1:15 PM

    I don't do the One Present thing, nor am I going to decorate the tree, finish wrapping, set out presents, prep the fireplace and coffeemaker and donuts for the next morning. No. The tree will already be decorated.

    But Santa does always leave candycanes on the tree.

  5. When I was a kid, we opened one present on Christmas Eve and the rest in the morning. It was fun to focus on one. It was exciting the way gambling is exciting. Would you pick a good one? Would you regret your choice?
    With my kids, we go to Grandma's house on Christmas Eve, and they open tons of presents. Then in the morning, it's just our family — opening tons of presents. I like it. Presents are fun.

  6. We open all of our presents on Christmas Eve. I'm told its Dutch tradition, but haven't found a source for that.

  7. Open one present? Never! All presents are opened Christmas morning, no sooner. Santa's presents are never wrapped.

  8. Anonymous11:35 AM

    My grandparents (not German) also decorated the tree after the kids had gone to bed. It was placed in the center of the living room floor, hidden behind sliding doors which were opened to great fanfare. I think the tradition had much to do with safety. There were often lit candles on the tree and, even if there were not, there was fear of fire. The tree was only kept in the house for a few days.

    Now, I put the tree up earlier just because I love sitting by it while I write my Christmas letters.
    I've made my own tradition about trees and presents and food, many of them in compromise with family members I've inherited through marriage. This is sooo much better, I think, than having to do everything the way my parents expected it to be done.

    As far as present opening, we like to open family presents on Christmas Eve because it's much more intimate in the evening darkness with lots of candles and a fire in the fireplace.
    Christmas Day, for me, is for Santa and for church (sometimes) and for visiting. It's a day to include and show love to others not in the immediate family.
    I like it this way.

    In other words, make your own traditions and allow your kids to be part of the process.

  9. MustangSally1:38 PM

    We generally open all gifts to each other on Christmas Eve. Then only the presents Santa brings (and the stockings, of course!) Christmas morning.

  10. Sharikov4:15 PM

    I won't comment, since you haven't responded to my email. So there.

  11. Anonymous3:33 AM

    Tovarisch !
    A very Happy Christmas and a great New Year to you and your family up there in the Frozen North from me down here in the Blazing South.

  12. Anna Phor9:03 PM

    ooh, I've never opened a present early. Santa doesn't come until late on Christmas Eve in these parts, so there wouldn't be any presents to open before Christmas morning, anyway.

  13. Santa comes Christmas morning, but all other presents are opened Christmas Eve after the lutefisk dinner. I'd trade the lutefisk part for any German or Dutch tradition, but alas, I am stuck with my Norwegianity.

  14. NEVER!!! Waiting is hard, but always worth it.

    My mom's family did that Christmas Eve tradition too; I think it's old fashioned, not just German.

    We put our tree up a couple of weeks early and open all presents on Christmas morning. Stockings from Santa first, then breakfast, then family gift exchange. Christmas Eve is for church, then sitting around the tree eating cookies and drinking eggnog while listening to a good Christmas story.

    (Paul's family does everything but stockings on Christmas Eve, but I won for our family tradition.)