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Christmas Gift--A Family Tradition

Updated on December 15, 2014

A Tradition Enduring for Over a Century

When thinking over our family traditions, several possibilities came to mind, beginning with Thanksgiving and going all the way up to New Year's Day. I had much to choose from . . .

Would it be Thanksgiving when the family gathered for a feast of succulent Thanksgiving turkey, Grandma's dressing, homemade cranberry sauce, and . . . potato salad! Yes! Grandma's tradition was potato salad, not mashed potatoes and gravy? I never realized that most people did not have potato salad for the holidays until I was married and my husband asked, "where is the mashed potatoes and gravy?"

Or would the winning topic be about Christmas family traditions of watching "It's a Wonderful Life", "White Christmas", or "A Charlie Brown Christmas?" Or maybe the wonderful Christmas music that fills our house during the Christmas season while baking the century old family cookie recipe?

But how could I forget the special New Year's Day traditional family meal which is always black-eyed peas and ham accompanied by Grandma's skillet cornbread?

Rolling over all these time-honored possibilities in my mind, I finally landed on the family tradition instituted by my Grandpa. It is the Christmas Gift legacy that Grandpa's family taught to him and he then passed on to us. In our family, it is still practiced today by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren whom Grandpa never even met.

Image courtesy of Idea go at

How Do You Play "Christmas Gift?"

Your first encounter with any family member or friend on Christmas Day begins Grandpa’s game. On sight, you quickly say “Christmas Gift” giving them no time to say it to you first. Then that would mean they had to give you a present instead of you giving them one. For Grandpa, speaking “Christmas Gift” was rooted more in a type of survival than in the “just for fun” way our family plays the game today. Since Grandpa lived through the days of The Great Depression, getting first claim with the words “Christmas Gift” was the only way to receive a Christmas gift. I can tell you from experience that no one was ever as quick to hit you with “Christmas Gift” on Christmas morning as my grandpa was. In fact, I do not remember ever getting him first, but luckily for me, at this point I still got a present anyway. In my lifetime, it is just more of a game rather than the only way to secure a real Christmas present.

Grandpa was most always serious and hard-to-connect with emotionally. But one of the very few times I remember him being happy was when he got you on Christmas morning with, "Christmas Gift!" Grandpa died when he was only 59 but would have turned 100 on his August birthday this year 2013.

The Christmas Movie--Holiday Affair - Starring Robert Mitchum & Janet Leigh

I was watching the 1949 Christmas movie, "Holiday Affair" with my husband a few nights ago. I noticed that the family was playing "Christmas Gift" in one scene on Christmas morning. This was the first time I had seen others playing Grandpa's traditional game.

A Classic Christmas Movie

It Happened on 5th Avenue
It Happened on 5th Avenue

This is a great traditional Christmas movie portraying an old-fashioned Christmas with a few unexpected twists. A fun movie for the entire family to watch together.


"Christmas Eve Gift" is also a game we play!

We just say "Christmas Eve Gift" instead. This way we have two chances each year to get others first.

A Game of Christmas Gift - Or Christmas Eve Gift

Have you ever heard about the game of "Christmas Gift" before?

See results

Stories Behind Many Christmas Traditions

For example, a Christmas tree is evergreen to represent the everlasting love of God.

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (Stories Behind Books)
Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (Stories Behind Books)

Where did many of the family Christmas traditions come from? Find answers here.


The Tradition Continues

And is Enhanced with Technology!

Throughout the years, I passed the fun on to my family beginning with my husband and then to our children. For our family, there is something magical with this greeting rooted in tradition that is way more than a full century old. My husband often gets me first as does my oldest son. It is all great connecting fun. Also we have added a new dimension to a very old Christmas tradition with phone calls. There was a point that I did not dare answer the phone of Christmas morning by saying anything other than “Christmas Gift” or my sister on the other end would get me first.

And now with the availability of texting, my sister and my children often get me by text before I am even awake yet! Our wonderful family game has advanced forward with greater accessibility through modern technology! Wonder what Grandpa would think of that?

Gifts are Only a Symbol of Something Greater

Christmas gifts are always fun to get. However, the true meaning of Christmas is far more important than any material gift anyone could ever purchase, wrap up, and give. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the wonderful, matchless gift He gave to us all. Giving each other gifts is only a symbol of the greatest, most loving story ever told. Giving gifts is a way of sharing that divine love.

Jesus Christ is the Greatest Gift Ever Given & the Reason for the Christmas Season.

The Real Christmas Story - The Meaning Behind Gift Giving

The Christmas Story
The Christmas Story

The Biblical Christmas story unfolds with relevant & historical artwork.

God Gave Us Christmas (God Gave Us Series)
God Gave Us Christmas (God Gave Us Series)

This is a book I bought for my granddaughter. It's an easy-to-understand, thought provoking story that is cute & entertaining too.


Do you have fun family traditions that began decades ago? - Share Your Memories Here . . .

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    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      5 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Oh, I wish I did. What a great family tradition!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great family tradition.


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