Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar of Memories & Smile for the Camera - Gifts

for December 10

   Christmas 1963

What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give?
Well, when I think about this I honestly can't name a favourite gift that I received. It is not that I haven't received many great gifts because I have. My mother kept a note pad listing the Christmas gifts she was going to purchase. Even if you read the list before Christmas, you wouldn't know what you were going to receive because it was written in shorthand. 

Janet - Christmas 1973

One gift that I received a few days before Christmas 2000 did not come wrapped in paper to be  placed under the Christmas tree, nor did it come by parcel post. It came from a stranger via email. It was the helpful piece of information that took me back another generation in my Iles family. I wrote about it in A Gift of Genealogy.

My favourite gift that I gave was in Christmas 2000. I made three copies of a brief family history. I gave a copy to my sister and my brother. The book was printed on my computer printer and put into a binder. Our parents were the focus of the book. I talked about them, their families and traced only their direct lines as I knew it at that time. A couple of years ago, I did an updated version for four of my nephews.

One year, around 1993, my mother and I gave each other the same sweater. When we exchanged the gifts, only the two of us were there. She opened hers up first. At first, she thought something had happened to the gift tags. Then, I opened mine. We had a good laugh about how we both had chosen the same gift for the other. Has that every happened to you? Sometimes without consulting the other, we would both chose to wear this same sweater and the same coloured slacks to an event. 

When I was younger, our family custom was one person to act as "Santa". This was usually my dad. He would dig under the tree to pass a gift to each person as it came their turn. Only one person opened a gift at a time. Everyone would ooh and ah! It didn't matter whether it was a pair of socks or a new toy or book. The giver would be thanked if they were present. My dad's big gift for my mom would always be given last. Often, it would placed somewhere other than under the tree. Someone would grab a camera to capture mom's expression when she opened her gift. 

After all the gifts were opened, each person was assigned a spot to display their gifts. A list was made of what a person received. This helped when you did your thank you letters. 

After my brother got married, we adopted his wife's family's tradition of passing out the gifts to each person at the start. Still, only one person could open a gift at a time. If it was your turn and your pile was getting a little short, you might pass until it came your turn again.

I enjoy taking my time to open the gifts and to see what each person received. I do not like to be rushed.

updated from 2007
© 2009 Janet Iles


  1. Your gift opening traditions sound like ours. We still do the one person at a time thing and take our time, often stopping to eat Christmas treats in between gifts or take pictures, and we also write down our lists so that we'll be sure to remember for writing thank-you notes.

  2. Thanks for the Smiles!

    Bill ;-)

    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"


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