Flashback Friday: Christmas presents

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

I think I am going to answer today’s prompt in list form again.

When did you open Christmas presents when you were growing up? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

We were allowed to open one present of our choosing Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas Day.

If you traveled, did your parents take the gifts, or did you open them early or late?

I honestly don’t remember. I’m guessing we probably opened them before or after and maybe took just a few with us, but I am not sure.

Did your parents have Santa leave presents? Were they wrapped or unwrapped?

Yes: they were assembled and unwrapped under the tree Christmas morning, so they were the first things we saw.

Did you have stockings? What was generally in those?

Yes. I remember there was always an orange in the toe of the stocking and I remember more fruit and nuts in stockings as well. There must’ve been little toys or candy as well, but I can’t remember for sure.

Were gifts simple and practical or more extravagant?

Gifts were fairly simple when I was young and got more extravagant as the kids grew and started leaving home and the money situation loosened up a bit.

Did you give presents to your parents and siblings? Were they homemade or purchased? If purchased, did you pay with your own money or did your parents pay?

I don’t remember giving gifts to parents much unless we made some in school or Sunday School. I don’t think I started giving gifts on my own until I was a teen-ager. There was a mix of hand-made or purchased. I used my own money.

What are memories of special gifts you received?

I should remember…but the only specific gifts I can remember getting were Barbies and paint-by-number sets, which was fine because I liked both  then.

Oh — and one year when fishnet stockings were “in,” the package I chose to open Christmas Eve was some of those stockings from an aunt and uncle who had daughters my age. My dad didn’t like them and was upset, kind of putting a damper on the evening. Now as an adult I can see why — those things look like…the kind of attire I don’t want to be seen in!

Did you ever peek and find out what your gifts were ahead of time?

Once while my brother and I were playing near the tree I noticed I could sort of see through the light-colored wrapping paper, so later when no one was around I looked a little more closely and made out what my presents were. I was delighted — until Christmas morning when most of the surprise was gone. I learned my lesson!

Did presents gradually appear under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas and were you allowed to touch/shake them?

Yes, they did appear gradually. I think we were allowed to pick them up and even shake them as long as we didn’t get too wild about it.

Since I’ve been married, we haven’t continued the opening of one present on Christmas Eve — I am not sure why. We started visiting my family in TX or my husband’s in ID the first few Christmases, but the weather was always unpredictable, particularly going to ID, and eventually we wanted to “do Christmas” our own way, including and emphasizing the Nativity story, which neither of our families did. So we started staying home at Christmas and doing our traveling over summers most of the time. We chose not to incorporate Santa into our children’s Christmas — I just felt like it was dishonest, for one thing, and why give him credit for gifts that I wanted my children to know came from us because we loved them? But we did watch Rudolph on TV and referred to Santa as any other imaginary storybook character. Typically we do not go anywhere on Christmas Day — maybe partly because we haven’t lived near family for most of our married lives, but also because we felt it wasn’t quite fair to the kids to get all sorts of new stuff and then make them leave it behind while we visited elsewhere. Plus, it’s usually so hectic in the weeks leading to Christmas, between mailing cards and shopping and going to programs and recitals and all, that it was nice just to close the doors and relax and make it a family day. We do have stockings and fill them with candy and little things (easier to do when they were younger!) We’ve encouraged our kids to give as well, supplementing their allowances (kind of like a Christmas bonus 🙂 ) and taking them shopping for other members of the family until they got old enough to handle it on their own. Something we’ve done some years is to choose some special ministry or some special need someone we knew had and give to that at Christmas time.

One special and extravagant gift my kids received was during the time they were very much into “Little People” — the old fashioned small ones. I had suggested to my mom that perhaps one of the “sets” — there was a “main street,” a farm, a garage, and I can’t remember what all else — might make a good group gift for them. Instead she sent them one set each, and bought a bunch of extra Little People which my sister wrapped individually! My husband said we almost needed an extra room just for the Little People. But they played with those quite a lot, and they’re in a box in the attic now, toys that I could not bring myself to get rid of.

Thanks for spurring the trip down Christmas memory lane, Linda!

6 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Christmas presents

  1. I always tried to find out what I was getting and our presents were always unwrapped and under the tree from Santa. The night before we always got to open one package and it was always a new set of PJ’s. Thanks for sharing all this. 🙂 Brings back fond memories. 🙂

  2. Enjoyed the memories. I left a comment on another blogger’s post telling about my friend who, along with her twin when they were teens, unwrapped all of their gifts when their folks were gone and rewrapped them. They had a blast. . .until Christmas morning. She says it was the worst Christmas ever!

  3. My children had the little people sets..I have the farm now that a friend gave me when Wonder Boy was small.
    You’ll be dragging those out when you have grandchildren.
    Money was scarce when I was growing up so we were told that Santa had to be paid for the gifts he brought which is a good way to explain why some children received more than others.
    Its interesting reading about the traditions of other people.
    Mama Bear

  4. I find it fascinating that your gifts were unwrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. Ours were ALWAYS wrapped–and we opened ours Christmas Eve. I’ve known that others generally celebrate on Christmas Day itself, but I’d never heard of gifts being placed under the tree unwrapped!

    • Only the ones from “Santa” were unwrapped and placed under the tree the night before — maybe because some of them were assembled Christmas Eve, I don’t know. Everything else was wrapped and accumulated under the tree over the weeks leading up to Christmas.

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