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Christmas Gift!! (Gotcha!)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on December 25, 2011


Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.
Christina Rossetti

The “Christmas Gift” Tradition

I thought our family was the only family that did this….have you ever heard of the “Christmas Gift” tradition? The idea is to say, “Christmas Eve Gift,” and “Christmas gift” (on the appropriate days) to everyone in your family before they say it to you. No one I’ve asked outside my family has ever heard of it.

I’m thrilled to say, I’ve finally learned that we’re not alone! Check it out HERE–stories from lots of other families who have the same tradition! Some families apparently expect some type of gift (a small gift, like a candy or a nut) from others when they say it…we don’t. We just try to “get” the others in our family before they “get” us. It’s a neat way to remind each other that Jesus is the real gift of Christmas. We do the same thing on New Year’s Eve and New Years, too (we try to say “New Year’s Eve Gift”/”New Year’s Gift!” to each other before others say it to us.)

No one seems to know for sure where the tradition comes from. Some say it comes from Scotland (my family is Scottish)…others say it is a southern thing, originating from slaves…and others say it is an Okie thing (my mom was an “Okie”.) All I know is that I grew up with this tradition, and as weird as it may be to some of you, we think it’s really is fun! In fact, I need to get on the phone, call my brothers, and see if I can “get” them…<GRIN>

So, from my family to yours…

…Christmas Gift! Merry Christmas! May Jesus, our wonderful gift, bless you and yours today and always!

I found this public domain quote about it from the Ancestry site (link) as well… taken from Christmas Gift by Ferrol James, 1989, Dell Publishing:

“Christmas morning did not begin at daybreak but at least two hours before. It began with the thump and patter of the newly awakened feet of children….Finally a permissive mother would light a lamp and all Christmas would break loose. When some bolder child approached his bed to see if he was awake, Mr. Pharoah would leap up and startle the scout into immediate paralysis. “Christmas gift!” he would shout.
Then it rang all over the house. “Christmas gift!”

You said it first and you said it fast. You said it to anyone and everyone upon first sight that day. It was the salutation of the season used on that particular morning. It was an achievement to catch a sister, a cousin, an aunt or uncle unawares with the cry. “Christmas gift!”

…It was said that whoever beat another person to saying it was supposed to receive a present from that individual. When I said it to Simon or Coot or Clarence or any of Jesse Lee’s children, however, I was always answered with “Hand it here!” My sister Janice had a sharp ear and had early noted the disregard for terminal consonant or sibilant in the speech of the help. She consequently cut a fraction of a second from her time. “Chrimma giff!” she would yell, jumping from behind a door. It was hard to get Christmas gift on Sister Janice. It was impossible on Daddy. He beat everyone to it, his parents, his siblings, and certainly his children. He surprised, he startled, he anticipated everyone. It was a point of honor with him. He carried the custom into his eighties. He was even known to hide behind the smoke house and leap out at arriving grandchildren. “Christmas gift!” It is the cry of the Bear Cat. Of the Bareheaded Man. It brings Baby Jesus and Santa Claus together. It wraps them in red tissue paper adorned with a sprig of mistletoe or holly; it is a harmonious package. It really means “I love you,” and on that one morning each year it can be shouted exultantly to the heavens. Christmas gift! “Christmas gift! Everybody!”

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

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