Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fosket Family Christmas Tradition

Gift giving is a big part of the Christmas celebration, especially for a family with five children.  When we were growing up, Mom did lots of shopping, but she really hated to wrap gifts.  She certainly couldn't have the presents gift wrapped, neither did she want to wrap them herself.

So she figured out a system that worked for us.

When the time came to wrap the gifts that she had stashed in the back of the closet, Mom would pile them on the bed and go to work.  Each gift would have its own box, whether it was the original box or a shirt box from the department store or an old shoe box that the gift would fit into.  She would assign a number to each gift and write that number on the box.  There was no logic to her numbering system.  It might be the year the recipient was born or our telephone number or the number of her favorite baseball player.  Whatever came to her mind, she wrote it down.

She prepared a master list with a column for each person in the family, and she would write the assigned gift number in the appropriate column.  Then she would bring her pile of gifts into the living room where wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors and tape littered the floor.  We kids would wrap each gift carefully, making it as beautiful as possible, because there was always a possibility that the gift was our own!  We'd transfer the number from the box onto the wrapping paper.  Then we'd pile the gifts under the tree.

We had little interest in shaking the gifts, as we didn't know which were ours.

On Christmas morning we were reminded that there were, indeed,  some flaws in this system.  We always had to wait for Mom to remember where she had hidden her master list.  Once she found it, Tim and Ted, the youngest, would pull out the gifts and call out the numbers -- if they could find them.  Sometimes no number at all had been written on the gift.  And sometimes the numbers we'd transferred to the outside of the box were just plain wrong.  In that case a boy would open a girl's nightgown or a girl would get a toy car.

One year in particular stands out in my mind.  Back in the 50s you could get a big box of potato chips with three bags of chips inside.  The perfect size for Christmas gifts, Mom decided.  We ate bags and bags of potato chips that year and Mom saved all the boxes.  When she went Christmas shopping, she didn't buy anything that wouldn't fit into a potato chip box!  Imagine Dad's surprise when one of the gifts he opened actually turned out to be potato chips!

These days Mom wraps the gifts herself, but when the family gathers for Christmas, she digs around for her master list and keeps it close at hand as the youngest members of the family call out numbers.  We all groan, but we love it!  It's just how we do it at the Fosket house.

Photo by alancleaver_2000

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